The universal benefits of subtitling your video are that it is a cheaper process and it takes less time than high quality dubbing. But there are additional benefits. In fact, there are good reasons to subtitle your video even in its original spoken language, along with new ones. Let’s look at the issues.
1. For any audience – international or at home – subtitling is an excellent choice to ensure the clarity of specialized terminology used in your video. In addition, note-taking and remembering are easier when specialized words and proper nouns are visible on-screen.
2. Subtitles eliminate the comprehension problems that occur with fluctuations in your video’s soundtrack volume, background noise or music, and speakers’ voice levels and accents.
3. There are tens of millions of deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals around the world, and that’s a big market share that you are more likely to win over if your video has subtitles. In fact, without subtitles, this is a market you can be pretty sure you won’t reach at all.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is improved by subtitles. Google search results, for instance, will include customized subtitled text (not the auto-captioning services available on some sites).
5. Statistically speaking, many more people watch subtitled videos to completion, as compared with those that don’t have subtitles. While the reasons are uncertain, it may have something to do with the engagement and ease of following a video in which all dialog is written out on-screen.
6. Whether people are at libraries, cafes, work, or home with others around, many prefer to watch videos without the sound off. Clearly this is much more fruitful and rewarding if there are subtitles.
7. For foreign markets, translated subtitling for videos in English is preferred over dubbing in most countries (an exception is children’s programming, which is usually dubbed). Among other reasons, many people around the globe who understand English want to hear the original dialog in films from the US and other English-speaking nations.
8. When a video or film is viewed in a country where it was not created, subtitles are less intrusive than dubbing to the original’s subtleties and mood.
9. Subtitles are also less likely to create the cultural gaffs possible with dubbing, such as inappropriate voices, emotions, attitudes, or pronunciation. For the most part, they can remain neutral.
Once you have created foreign subtitles for one language it is easier to do so for more languages. This is because you have already identified the text you need to translate and the timing for the subtitles within the video. Then, depending on your reason for subtitling, you can choose “open subtitles” that are programmed right into the picture, or subtitles that are superimposed onto the picture by the end user’s viewing equipment. As part of your subtitling team, your language service provider will assign tech specialists who can help you decide exactly what choices to make for an excellent final video product that expands your global reach.