Why The Need For Both Subtitles AND Closed Captioning?

What Is Closed Captioning? talks about the difference between closed captioning and subtitling by explaining that closed captioning is meant for a non-hearing audience while subtitling assumes that the audience can hear but doesn’t understand the language being spoken.

This means that subtitles include just what speakers say, while closed captioning also includes non-verbal information, such as sounds effects and speaker IDs.

While this covers the basics, the difference between subtitles and closed captioning is actually quite complex. Here are answers to some common questions to help you better understand why we need both subtitles and closed captioning.

Note: Sometimes if closed captioning is not technically available for some reason, you might encounter subtitling written for the deaf and hard of hearing; this is called SDH subtitling, and it includes all sound effects and identifies each speaker.

Is CC Just Subtitles With More Details?

Maybe another way to look at this is that subtitles would be closed captions except for all the details that get left out. In general, the reading rate is significantly slower in subtitles than in captioning. This is in compensation for the work the viewer is doing in listening and reading in two different languages, and in attending to the audio in order to figure who is saying what and in what context.

What’s the Difference Between Making a DVD With Subtitles Versus With Closed Captioning?

Do you know the saying that the great thing about standards is that there are so many of them? Well, that’s subtitling.

Each authoring system has a slightly different way of dealing with subtitling, and you can expect to spend some time working on your subtitle file formatting.

Best practices for subtitle file formatting:

  • Always start with a clean subtitle transcript with immaculate spelling, punctuation, thoughtful phrasing, and accurate spotting.
  • 5 frames blank between each subtitle is customary to make sure that one title is removed before the next is displayed.
  • Try to import your subtitles into your authoring system as formatted text before you move to using graphics and slides.

In comparison, captioning is generally more complex information. Captioning files are encoded, so the text is not handled as graphics, it is compiled and encoded and decoded at the machine level. There are also more aspects to include in captions, including left/right/centre positioning. In addition, the conventional file formats for closed captioning mean that once you choose the one you prefer from a relatively short list, you should not have to do much more debugging.

How To Know Whether To Use CC or Subtitles

Consider your audience. If you expect them to all be hearing viewers watching in optimal conditions, you can go with subtitles. Our recommendation would be to caption your film in the language it is voiced in, either using broadcast standards or SDH standards, and then to add subtitles for additional languages you might want to target. The captions will be clear and easy to read for those who choose them, and you won’t risk excluding the viewers who don’t get enough detail from subtitles alone.


February’s Recipe: Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce

Photo by Sifu Renka by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo by Sifu Renka

We love Bob Blumer! We worked on his show Glutton For Punishment for 5 seasons, and we’re now at work on his new show, World’s Weirdest Restaurants. This recipe is featured in his cookbook, Glutton For Pleasure (which is a great read).

I learned about Chimichurri from Carolyn’s husband, Rob, and it is one of the very best things! Great on anything, not just steaks. Well, maybe not on fruit pie.

This Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce recipe is super easy to make and really delicious — lots of parsley, lemon and garlic. Find the recipe on Foodnetwork.com.