There are more options in video players than ever. Audio tracks, subtitle tracks, audio description, closed captioning, oh my! It’s hard to tell which subtitle track to use with so many options. But that’s where we come in. We want to make sure that video is accessible to viewers all around the world. More options means that watching media in different languages is available more and more on popular streaming platforms. Some platforms like Netflix have gotten attention for their search by language feature. This feature allows users to filter by original language, audio language, or subtitle language. After settling in to explore a title in another language, it’s time to figure out which set of subtitles to use. That’s what we are here to help you feel confident choosing subtitles.
Let’s take an example like Netflix’s Squid Game, which has two different English subtitle tracks: English subtitles and English CC. Where do these tracks come from and what are they used for? Answers to these questions and more below!
What are subtitles?
Subtitles are specifically meant to represent the speech in the video. Subtitlers assume that the audience can hear the audio and so the final product doesn’t include other sounds or identifying information like which character is saying which line. And for translated subtitles, they are meant to preserve that speech across language barriers and make content enjoyable for local audiences.
What are closed captions (CC)?
Closed captions (CC) have more information to help viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy the video. For example, speaker tags can help identify which person is speaking. This is especially helpful if characters move off-screen, have their mouth covered, or are speaking back and forth rapidly. Closed captions also include sound descriptions for plot-important noises. Viewers sometimes need to know when someone knocks on a door, if a car pulls up, or if a floorboard creaks. Whatever audio information the audience needs to appreciate the tension, humor, or drama of a piece of content is supposed to be included in closed captions. And if you are wondering why they are closed captions, here is a comparison between open and closed captions.
What are the differences between English subtitles and English CC?
English subtitles will be more accurate to the original language subtitles. They are a translation of the original language subtitles.
English CC is often created by transcribing what is said in the English dubbed version. Dubbing is often used in video localization. There are different ways for audiences to enjoy media in other languages, and dubbing can help if no subtitle track is available.
When would you see both English and English CC?
It is more likely to see both options on videos that have been dubbed in English. The English subtitles are usually translated from the original audio. But the English Closed Captions are transcribed from the dubbed English audio. Video production is complicated, especially when releasing video on a streaming platform with a global reach. So it makes sense to give audiences as many options as possible for accessibility.
When is it best to use English subtitles?
For content creators, if you are planning to release your content to a global audience then subtitles would be a great choice. Subtitles efficiently and accurately translate the speech in a video for audiences abroad.
For viewers, English subtitles are more accurate to the original audio track. For language learners trying to grasp both the written and spoken form of a language, using this subtitle track is best. If staying faithful to the original language is the priority, the translated subtitle track makes sense to use.
When is it best to use English CC subtitles?
For creators, using English CC subtitles is best if your video is dubbed in English. That way, the viewers aren’t getting two different inputs that don’t match. English CC is also best for creating any publicly available video to comply with disability protection regulations. If the video is intended for public use, it’s respectful to make sure that that video is accessible to people with disabilities.
For viewers, English CC subtitles match the dubbed English audio. Following along with the dubbed version is smoother for some viewers.
Is it possible to use both English and English CC?
The short answer is yes. Most video platforms allow multiple subtitle or caption files for one video. There are a lot of options for video creators. And when there are a lot of options, it’s important to reconnect with the value to the audience for each option.
It’s a good starting point to create closed captions in the original language first. Putting accessibility at the forefront of video production is essential to making sure that the final product doesn’t discriminate against people with disabilities. Regardless of how wide your release is, there are people who are deaf and hard of hearing everywhere in the world so CC is essential. And if you make dubs in multiple languages, they should have CC files to match them.
For creators who plan to release their content on a global scale, translated subtitles are important for attracting audiences across language barriers. It’s less complicated, cheaper, and faster than creating dubs with CC.
Mostly, these decisions depend on the final audience that the creator wants to attract. Subtitles, closed captions, and dubbing are all invitations for audiences to join in enjoyment. Captions and subtitles are an often overlooked but essential part of video production. But keeping creators who keep themselves informed and prepared are more likely to catch someone’s attention!
Not sure where to start with subtitling? Check out AOD!
We have our own in-house team of professional translators doing work in 50+ languages. Amara On Demand gives people more options for their subtitles, including film quality subtitles, burn-in captions, and more customization on demand!
Ready to start subtitling? Try the Amara platform!
The Amara editor and subtitling platform offers a diverse range of subtitling solutions. Whether there are a few videos or an entire library, there are tools ready to use at any scale! Our award-winning editor has an original language reference panel handy for translators, waveform for our paid teams, and a free option for people who are just starting out in the subtitling world!
And our paid team plans allow ordering from our machine-generated captioning service which can give translators a head-start with a written reference. It’s an all-in-one subtitling solution with a great team of people behind it!