Subtitling For Video Media Localization

If you’re interested in reaching out to a worldwide audience with regard to your videos, media localization is absolutely your best bet. Adding subtitles is an important step in this process and there are all sorts of tricks to make your subtitles stand out without distracting your viewers from the main content. There are a few points to keep in mind when you go about including subtitles and we’re going to break them all down for you so you can start subtitling your videos like a pro. 


First and foremost, you’re going to want to fully transcribe your entire video from start to finish. This includes using dashes to differentiate between more than one onscreen speaker or leading a person’s name if they are speaking off-screen. If your subtitles don’t make these distinctions, following along at home can become difficult. When you have a complete transcript to work with, making these adjustments is much easier in the long run. 


Translating your original transcript into your new language(s) is the next big step you should take and this translation will often need to be adjusted. Some languages are more (or less) wordy than others and may include different dialects that you need to consider. This being the case, properly editing your translation to make it easier for your target audience to follow or understand is important and should be a priority.



While this is step related to the steps involved in translating your transcription, it’s worth pointing out if only to highlight some important considerations. Synchronization is best accomplished by breaking your full, translated audio clip into distinct sections of no more than a paragraph at a time. To make things easier, we suggest breaking your full clip into bite-sized bits and assigning time stamps to each so you can more easily sync your subtitles to the correct scene in your video. 

Rule of Thirds

While this isn’t something that must be followed, it is generally considered to be a best practice within the industry. Keeping your subtitles contained to the bottom third of the screen helps viewers focus on the action at hand instead of struggling to view your video behind the subtitles. Another point that ties in with this one is to try to ensure that any important elements in your video take place above this imaginary subtitle line so as to make your subtitles less distracting and your content more noticeable to your audience. 

Going Forward

So there you have it! If you follow these steps you can avoid most issues that arise when adding subtitles to video media for the purposes of localization. There are some point that relate to video content that are also worth keeping in mind, such as avoiding any elements in your video that relate to a specific language, such as signs or posters. While these language-specific elements are unavoidable in a lot of situations, they can break immersion if they are used too frequently and can also cause issues with regard to having to add additional subtitles to translate them, assuming they happen to be important.


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