Translation Panacea


Subtitles means the text lines appearing usually at the bottom of the screen, reproducing the dialogues and / or other sounds in the film. Subtitles can be in the language same as the video language (monolingual) or in some other language (bilingual).

Where is subtitling used?
Subtitling can be done for any audio visual content.  One can see subtitles or ‘closed captions’ in the videos:

  1. Meant for variety of audience – from different regions, speaking different languages.
  2. Made in two languages, for example, video narration is in English and the interview response is in native language.
  3. Those may be watched at noisy places – commuters watching entertainment videos during train or bus journey, householders watching TV content in a drawing room of their home, where other activities and distractions may be present, the film needs monolingual subtitles.
  4. Made in a single language but now need to be taken to other language speakers.
  5. Stressing a point where listening to audio content will be repeated with reading it on screen
  6. Made in language with heavy local accent. Monolingual subtitles make its comprehension easier for the viewers who are not very familiar with the accent.
  7. Films made in one country shown world over need subtitling in all those languages of viewers.
  8. Are watched by viewers with hearing challenges.

It is clear that the objective of adding subtitles to improve its reach, comprehension and impact. Though it may sound very simple as ‘writing what is said on screen’, in reality it is a very skillful and creative work.

The first and foremost point about use of language in any audio-visual is that its role is only supportive and visuals are prominent. There are sounds, visuals, music and words. Subtitles deal only with words, which are supportive to the film.  It is very important to choose what will go in subtitles and what will not.

The second point is subtitles are obstructions in viewing the film.  They occupy space on the screen and the viewer must watch and read at the same time.  It has a bearing on language and presentation of subtitles.

These two points make translation of subtitles very interesting. There are a number of norms and guidelines for subtitles.  Some of them are for the content, and some for the presentation.

Subtitles for entertainment content
The purpose of this subtitle is to let the viewer enjoy the visuals fully.  Here subtitlers need to check if certain characters are speaking in any specific way, or if the words used have any connotation and such other specific points. It’s fun and responsibility!

Subtitles for cartoon films
Cartoon films have vibrant colours, sharp, impactful noises, loud background music and speedy visuals. The characters have peculiar voices, styles of speaking and specific personalities.  The viewers’ reading speed is slow and there is difficulty in watching and reading simultaneously.  This makes subtitling of cartoons a very responsible assignment.  The choice of words, length of a subtitle, duration matter a lot in subtitling a cartoon film.

Subtitles for commercial organisation
The purpose of audio visuals of any company is to sell, inform, engage.  Subtitles are made to reach wider customer base and also to stress important points the AV might be making.

Subtitles can come very handy if a company is planning to have its marketing AV content in various languages. As compared to dubbing, it is economical on time and cost. The subtitled AVs can engage viewers from different target markets. It is especially significant when it is observed that only 25% of internet users search contents in English, rest of the World uses internet and prefers to watch AV content in their own languages.

In India, the figures are more favourable to Indian languages,  With the penetration of internet to smallest villages and affordable smartphones, this proportion is more and more favouring Indian language consumption. For certain languages like Bangla, Tamil, Hindi, Gujrati, content is viewed in these languages even outside India.

For certain sectors like agriculture, parenting, healthcare, career guidance one’s mothertongue is preferred than English. For these sectors especially, having the content in various langugages fetches far better results.

 Success of subtitles depend on two things- one, the quality of translation, that is the language and two, the appearance of subtitles, that is the technical side.

TranslationPanacea can help with excellent meaningful subtitles, keeping in mind the probable viewer profile. We adhere to international norms of subtitling as to placing, font, time coding and other details. It adds to the viewer experience and speaks about the company’s professional attitude.

We have given subtitle service to healthcare, tourism, agriculture and agri business as well as for corporate communications.  A number of our subtitled feature films are running on leading streaming platforms.  We have a trained team of subtitlers in various languages who enjoy their work!

If you have the AV content ready and if you are poised to enter a new geography, click here to contact us.

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