Subtitling services: company vs software – which should you choose?

Published on June 14th, 2017


If you’re in need of subtitling services for your video content, the first question you’ll probably be asking is: do I need to call in an agency or can I do this with software? The truth is any subtitling company you work with will use software to get the job done so it’s really a question of whether you can take this on for yourself.

So, in this article, we’ll be looking at what it takes to create subtitles and the key things you’ll need to consider when choosing between the subtitling services agency and software approaches.

How are subtitles made?

The bad news is there’s no easy way to create subtitles, regardless of what software you use. There may come a time where voice recognition technology and machine learning are good enough to automate the process, but that future is a long way off still, if it ever comes at all.

To give you an idea of what it takes to create subtitle files, here’s a screenshot from Subtitle Edit – one of your free options for subtitling services software.

subtitling company

Now that doesn’t look so intimidating, does it? Just to be clear, though, let’s break down the tasks involved in creating that simple-looking table:

  • Accurately transcribe audio
  • Manually type transcription in
  • Enter the start time for each subtitle
  • Enter the end time for each subtitle
  • Enter the duration for each subtitle
  • Proofread subtitles
  • Check speed and flow of subtitle file

Get any of those steps wrong and you’ll either have errors in your subtitle files or you’ll find they end up out of sync with the video file. We should also point out that this is the workflow for same-language subtitles (eg: English audio, English subtitles). When it comes to creating subtitles for foreign languages, you open a whole new world of translation tasks to bring into the workflow.

Subtitling services company vs software

We’re not going to turn around and pretend there’s any magic going on behind the scenes with our subtitling services. We use industry standard software to get the job done and there’s nothing stopping you from using the same tools we do. So why do clients come to us with their subtitling projects?

Here are some key things to think about:

  • We have professional transcribers
  • We’ve already paid for industry software
  • We have professional proofreaders
  • Our workflow speeds up the subtitling process
  • We have translation and localisation pros

The thing is, there’s a lot that goes on behind the subtitles you see on-screen. To get this done quickly and accurately, you’re going to need transcription skills, lightening fast typing and proofreading/editing skills as standard. This is before you throw any foreign languages into the mix and we’re already talking about five or six professional career paths here.

Of course, you can do DIY subtitling if you have the time and resources on your side. It really comes down to a question of speed and accuracy, which is what matters most when your video content is for commercial use. However, brands that need subtitles for international marketing campaigns, for example, have nothing to debate: professional subtitling services are the only way to go.

Posted on: June 14th, 2017