What is Subtitling?

Subtitles are text cards that are superimposed over the program video and timed to be synchronized with program content. Globally, the terms “subtitle” and “caption” are used interchangeably to refer to subtitles, but in the US “captions” is understood to specifically indicate Closed Captions.

Subtitles may be used to transcribe spoken dialogue for native speakers or to translate both dialogue and visible on-screen text such as road signs or location-card graphics for audiences who are not fluent in the program source language.

Modern home video formats such as DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming services (VOD/EST/OTT) often allow the user to select between multiple subtitle or dubbed audio tracks in various languages.


What are the Different kinds of subtitles?

Subtitling for Content Localization
A typical subtitle presentation uses one or two lines of text placed at the bottom of the screen, though top-positioning may be used to avoid having subtitles overlap on-screen text such as opening credits. Subtitles generally start at the same time as audio but continue to display for a short time after speech has ended to allow more time to read the text; subtitles may also be truncated or rephrased when there is rapid dialogue as written text is processed and comprehended more slowly than speech.


Subtitling for Access Services
Subtitles for the deaf/hard-of-hearing (SDH) are typically used to make program audio accessible to deaf/hard-of-hearing viewers and include transcriptions of spoken dialogue as well as speaker IDs and sound effect descriptions, and may also be positioned on-screen to follow speaker positioning. SDH may be included as open captions on broadcast transmissions or optional subtitle tracks on DVD, Blu-ray, or online presentations (Video on Demand).


Closed captioning – a US-specific format of subtitles for the hard of hearing
Closed captions are a specialized form of subtitles historically transmitted as binary code hidden in the blanking lines of a standard definition NTSC broadcast video signal (on Line 21) and displayed using a specialized decoder – they were termed “closed” because they did not appear in the media until decoded. Closed captions are now regularly included for HD broadcast, DVD, and online presentations (Video on Demand). Unlike typical subtitle presentation, CC can use three lines of text.


SDI Expertise

SDI Media delivers over 200,000 hours of subtitling in more than 80 languages annually for broadcast, theatrical, home entertainment, streamingand VOD platforms.

To ensure optimal quality, each language specialist undergoes intensive training before becoming an SDI-vetted subtitler and is tested across many categories including time cueing, positioning, content verification and grammar. In addition, our team of in-house editors and client managers ensure subtitle files are delivered correctly, and per client specifications.

All of SDI Media’s language specialists are trained on our proprietary subtitling software, Global Titling System (GTS). GTS has been developed by our in-house R&D team and is the world’s most robust subtitling system, with a fully profiled array of inputs, outputs, and workflows to match any language in every distribution window from Digital Cinema to Mobile platforms. Through our experienced team of professionals, and the use of our customizable subtitling software, SDI Media offers clients a complete solution for all subtitling project workflows.