Captions and Subtitles for Video Production

By: April Baity

Video production is an ever-evolving medium that is becoming increasingly popular for businesses, organizations, and individuals. With the rise of online video streaming, it is important for video production teams to ensure their videos are properly subtitled to maximize viewership and engagement. Without subtitles, important information and messages can be lost, leaving potential viewers frustrated and uninterested. Can you imagine trying to decipher Brad Pitt’s dialogue in the movie “Snatch”? Have you tried to watch the Korean series “Squid Games” with English dubbing? It is extremely challenging and dubbing becomes a distraction. It reduces enjoyment (and therefore value) of the content. Netflix and Amazon Prime have added captions/subtitling to nearly all their content because of these trends, and to maximize enjoyment (and therefore value.)

By providing captions and subtitles in multiple languages, content creators can expand their viewership to a wider audience, resulting in increased engagement and visibility.

Subtitles improve SEO for videos because they provide an additional way for search engines to find and index your content. Search engines use text to determine what your video is about, so having subtitles and attaching a transcript gives search engines more ways to understand your video’s content. This can lead to more clicks, views, and shares, which can in turn help boost your SEO. One study showed that videos accompanied by a transcript had a 15% boost in viewership. Facebook videos with subtitles had a whopping 135% increase in organic search over those that did not. Captioning and subtitles are a must!

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating subtitles:

  1. Make sure they are accurate. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to take the time to proofread your subtitles or have a professional provider (such as Speechpad) do it for you. A single typo can change the meaning of what’s being said, so it’s crucial to get it right.
  2. Captions should be readable and understandable. Captions that are too short, with too little text, are difficult to read and comprehend. Captions that display a continuous line of unbroken text lose the speaker’s thought process and meaning can become confused.
  3. Use proper grammar and punctuation. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to use proper grammar and punctuation in your subtitles. This will make them easier to read and understand.
  4. Use easy-to-read fonts. If you are using a captioning format that permits customization, a legible font should be your top priority. Avoid fancy, decorative fonts, and stick to simple, sans-serif fonts that are easy to read. Be aware that not all streaming platforms accept a captioning format that allows for you to customize your captions and instead provides these features in the media player for the viewer to decide what works best for them.
  5. Make them visible. Your subtitles should be easy to see, so be sure to use a high-contrast color that will stand out against the background.
  6. Place them properly. The placement of your subtitles is also important. They should never cover up important visual information, and they should be far enough away from the edge of the frame so that they’re not cut off when the video is cropped for different aspect ratios. Creating accurate subtitles may take a little extra time, but it’s worth it to ensure that your video is accessible to everyone.

In summary, if your video production content is valuable you should use captions and subtitles to maximize your viewers’ enjoyment, and your content’s reach. Many audiences stand to benefit from your decision to caption your content, such as people who are:

  • hard of hearing or deaf.
  • learning a new language.
  • in a noisy environment.
  • diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • watching videos on a smartphone or tablet.
  • in a library or other quiet environment.
  • watching videos in a foreign language.
  • watching videos on a plane or in a car.
  • affected by a cognitive disability.
  • watching videos in a classroom setting.