Vows, Subtitles, and John Oh
Earlier this year, we added English subtitles to our short film Vows. In this vlog post, I invited John Oh to chat about why subtitles are important and his process of creating subtitles.
Video Guide to Subtitling Vows
Hi, my name is John Oh, I created the subtitles for Kim’s video “Vows”.
Kim asked me to talk about the production process of the subtitles for Vows and why it’s a good idea to include subtitles in video media.
Why You Should Add Subtitles to Your Film
Lets start with the “why” – in short: it’s to allow people to still enjoy your work, even if they can’t hear it or understand it.
Specifically this means:
* People with hearing impairment (deafness for instance)
* People who may not speak your language well enough to be able to keep up with the story
* Or speak your language at all – having a subtitle file can allow third parties to translate your subtitles into any other language, letting your film reach a wider audience.
It can also be very useful for people who are watching your media in public, or in places where they can’t have sound enabled on their device. Subtitles mean that they can still follow the story, even when they have no option to listen to its audio.
How to Add Subtitles to Your Film
Moving on to “how”
There are many good tools for subtitling available online to help you create text versions of your film’s dialog, music, and sound effects. From the simple and free, to highly powerful tools that may require payment. There is going to be a tool to suit your budget and needs.
To be clear, I am not sponsored by any of the companies, or products that I might mention in here. These are simply my opinions based on my personal experiences creating and editing subtitles
Most video editing suits, including Adobe Premiere, which I use, support the import of files that contain text and instructions that tell the editor, or the video player how, where, and when to display subtitles.
These subtitle files can even be created by hand in a text editor, but there are many ways to create them.
Save time with technology, use Trint
To save time, I use an online AI powered service called Trint. To use it, you render the finished voice track from your film to a sound file, then upload the file to Trint, which then automatically detects the words being spoken, and converts them to text.
You can then choose the most appropriate format to output the words from Trint to use in your project. For Vows, I exported the text in finished subtitle format that includes timing data, so that Kim’s editing software would insert the right words into the film at the right moment.
Trint, despite its power however, isn’t perfect, so subtitle files will always need to be reviewed and edited when they are created this way. Despite these inaccuracies (Trint can be over 95% accurate in my experience), automatic conversion systems like Trint reduce the workload of subtitling hugely – especially in films with lots of dialog.
Once I had the subtitle file I opened it in a free, opensource program called Aegisub. Aegisub provides an interface that lets you step through the original audio, and the subtitle text at the same time to edit and correct any errors.
You can also use it to create subtitle files from scratch. It is a powerful tool that, despite looking a little intimidating, will allow you to make accurate subtitles for you project.
Final subtitling steps
The last step in the process, now that you have accurate subtitles is to choose how they are to be delivered. Subtitles can be “burned in” to a film – meaning that they become a permanent part of the film and are always visible, or they can be delivered as a “sidecar” file that the video player can then display when appropriate, or requested.
Youtube for instance allows publishers to provide their own subtitle file for each film, which can then be switched on and off in the Youtube interface by the viewer.
Subtitling is not a difficult process, but it may be one that feels daunting if you aren’t familiar with how it is done. There are lots of good videos on Youtube and helpful web pages that give detailed instructions on how to create subtitles and I encourage anyone producing video content to consider adding it them to their films.
At the end of the day, providing subtitles is relatively easy, and relatively affordable (in both time and money), it’s not a huge burden in the scope of most film projects. And in doing so you are allowing your project to reach a wider audience – especially people who have traditionally been excluded from fully enjoying video content due to disability, or lack of education.
Subtitling your work helps fight casual discrimination and in my opinion makes us better, more professional film makers.