Five tips to keep in mind before launching a video project
Sound off, subtitles on
These days, when it comes to publishing content on social media, adding subtitles to videos is just no longer up for discussion. You really do reach far more users with subtitled videos than without them. Most platforms use an autoplay function as default. While users scroll through their news feeds, videos play automatically – but without sound. The muted setting has to be actively turned off, which inevitably means the video has already caught the attention of the user (or not) by the time they can consider whether to watch with or without sound. If no subtitles pop up when the video autoplays, the user will like just quickly scroll past, and we’ve lost our chance to catch their interest. Subtitling – even in the original language – is no longer just an option.
It’s about more than just about reaching an audience who doesn’t speak the original language or for people who are hearing impaired. Subtitles also help us connect with mobile users who watch videos almost exclusively without sound, either by default or because they have purposely turned off the sound to watch in the office or in public.
Edit your transcripts
User-generated content, webinars, interviews and vox pops deliver authentic opinions from someone just sharing their unscripted thoughts in front of the camera. Minor grammatical and syntactic mistakes make these clips less stiff and lend them a certain charm. But recreating these mistakes word for word in the transcript – and subsequently in the subtitles that are translated into various other languages – detracts from the overall value of the video content. In corporate videos, the focus needs to be on the content, and subtitles that include uncorrected mistakes could confuse viewers.
A study conducted by Macquarie University in Australia found that literal subtitles that reflect the fill words, syntax and semantic mistakes of spoken language are 52% more likely to be skipped and are difficult for the mind to process.
As we established above, people tend to watch videos with the sound off, but subtitles also come in handy when a speaker is difficult to understand. Subtitles help viewers keep up better, so the transcript and subtitles should be edited in way that makes them easy to read and understand. Word-for-word subtitles are more likely to distract the watcher from the video itself.
So it’s best to plan in the necessary time and resources for editing.
Follow broadcast rules for subtitles
As the amount of video content increases, so does the willingness of non-experts to experiment with film. When subtitling, however, it makes sense to stick with the common standards set by the broadcasting world and to collaborate with professionals. Good subtitles are not a luxury afterthought; they are a crucial aspect of effectively reaching your target groups. Subtitles are momentary interpreters in text form, which means you shouldn’t agonize over finding the most elegant wording. The goal is to capture the meat of the message and make sure the subtitles are easy to read quickly.
Subtitles are an art form, and they are crafted by a strict set of rules. How long can you make a subtitle before it becomes unreadable against moving images? Where should it be displayed on the image? How are subtitles segmented? In answering such questions, it is important to consider the viewers’ ability to recognize the content and cognitively process it.
Plan for the big picture
If you plan to make your video content available in multiple countries, you should keep localization in mind when creating your videos. You need to start thinking about subtitles while you’re still in the brainstorming phase – well before filming. Text, fast transitions and quickly spoken content are critical factors that could increase the difficulty of subtitling and impact the way they appear in the target language.
There are some cases where subtitling just isn’t possible, or where a voiceover is not ideal. These could be animated explainer videos or presentations, screen captures or videos with a lot of text. In these formats, the viewers must follow the action on the screen, and their eyes cannot concentrate on the subtitles at the same time. These types of content must be localized in the original format, which could blow the planned budget.
Avoid the deadline crunch
Don’t forget localization when you’re setting the go-live date. Translation, editing and subtitling as well as the recording of voiceovers all take time, and these processes needs to be integrated into the schedule from the get-go.
There’s good reason for the growing affinity for videos in the corporate world. Videos connect with viewers directly and communicate content quicker in an easily accessible way. It’s worth investing just as much time and thought into translation and subtitling as you do into the rest of the video production. Your video deserves to be seen and understood by your target audience. Well-crafted subtitles are a powerful tool to increase the bandwidth of your videos.
Our audio-visual team looks forward to accompanying you through these five steps – just send us a message!