Before we consider either of the two points mentioned in the title above, let's just quickly consider what subtitles actually are. Well, if we're going to be precise, we may be referring to subtitles when we actually mean something else as, strictly speaking, subtitles are the translation of a language spoken by someone on screen into another language. For example, when one of the characters in "The Man in the High Castle" (a drama on Amazon Prime Video) says something in Japanese we see an English translation allowing us to hear the original language but still understand what's being said regardless of our foreign language skills.
What this blog is mostly focused on ought really to be referred to as "captions", whose purpose is to allow a video to be watched and understood without hearing the sound (which could be for reasons of disability or, as is the case for 80-85% of social media videos, because it's being watched muted). The words on screen replicate the video's soundtrack, and also include descriptions of none-vocal sounds, for example the words "[loud clapping]" for a video scene that includes enthusiastic applause.
When considering captions, for completeness we should probably also consider the two types of caption - closed and open. Closed captions are not visible until switched on, whilst open captions are burnt into the video and are always visible when the video is played.
It's fair to say though that, whilst there is this distinction between subtitles and captions, referring to what are essentially closed captions as subtitles is good enough for the BBC...
And if it's good enough for the BBC, quite frankly, it's good enough for us!
Even so, as we talk here about adding subtitles to video, our focus is actually on open captions - on-screen words that are included with a video, allowing it to be watched without hearing the sound.
But should i bother?
In short - yes! Probably the biggest driver has already been mentioned, i.e. that the vast majority of social media videos are watched without sound, at least until the viewer is interested enough to actively select the un-mute button. Remember that 74% of the value of a video is delivered within the first ten seconds and if your video is watched without sound it can be difficult for your audience to know what’s going on without subtitles.
How do I do it?
If you've had your video produced by a professional they're sure to be happy to add subtitles for you, which will usually add some cost. If you've produced a video yourself, perhaps one of those self-to-camera videos that are popular on LinkedIn, you'll be looking for a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add subtitles. Fear not as we have the answer!
You essentially need just two things….