Common Challenges Faced When Captioning and Subtitling

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Subtitling for a global audience can be a daunting task. It is very common that the nuances of the local language are missed out completely. Especially so if the content is being translated into a number of different languages.


Subtitling Company Videos

In film production, particularly where the film is marketed to a number of countries, language service providers have to be adept at subtitling even when the language is not technical. Subtitles have to capture the emotions, the humour and the tone of the dialogue. In the same way a corporate video made for internal communication spanning many countries and languages has to have intelligently translated subtitles and captions. After all, they must provide their multilingual employers with accurate communication.


Cultural References

Subtitling and captioning is also challenging because the meaning can be missed out completely unless cultural references and idiomatic turn of phrase have been captured by the translator. Any translation service that has the knowledge of the local flavour and regional references will be able to meet this challenge head on. Take Spanish, for instance, which is spoken in a number of countries just as English. Each region has added a native slant to the language. Unless the translator understands the usage of the language and the culture in all the various regions, subtitling and captioning may not be as smooth.


Technical Limitations and Accuracy in Subtitling

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced when subtitling or captioning is the length and the duration of the subtitles. Not only do subtitles and captions capture the essence. They must be short enough to be understood at a glance. Suppose you are making a business presentation to an audience in a local language. You have to fit your subtitles and captions into the space available on the screen (usually 2 lines of 37-40 characters). They must also fit within a limited span of time so that viewers can read and understand them easily. The number of characters used must not only fit the screen. They must be clearly seen and understood in order for the presentation to be successful. This could mean using correct typography and shorter easier words, without taking away the accuracy or the message.


Software vs Human Subtitling

Machine Translation software is being widely used among translators. But when it comes to subtitles and captions, a literal translation might not work all that well. It could confuse the viewer especially if a word is used to mean a number of things. Literal translations never work out well. They will disrupt the natural flow of the language rendering it artificial and uninteresting. It will be difficult to keep the attention of the audience if the language fails to convey the meaning properly. Your business presentations and video material will fail to make a lasting impression unless the subtitles and captions can engage the audiences. If a business is to capture the attention of the native audience, then they need to hire professional translators. It is because the staff that creates subtitles in-house might not have the necessary training to make effective multilingual captions and subtitles.

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