Captioning vs Subtitling – Breaking Down the Differences

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Captioning vs Subtitling

In 2022, India recorded over 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in revenue from OTT platforms and video services. This figure is estimated to reach 3.52 billion U.S. dollars by 2027. This increasing consumption of Indian multilingual and international videos has contributed significantly to the demand for captioning and subtitling services. With India being a linguistically diverse nation, where numerous languages are spoken across different regions, subtitles, and captions in Hindi and other Indian languages have become essential tools for businesses providing video services or leveraging videos for promotion and engagement. 

How can businesses benefit from Captioning their Videos? 

Videos help businesses communicate with customers, create brand awareness, and provide personalization in multiple languages but they need increased accessibility and engagement for language interpretation in a multilingual country like India. APIs like Reverie’s speech-to-text, excel in providing accurate transcriptions to caption Hindi content and 10 other official Indian languages, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity.

While both captioning and subtitling help marketing and branding videos reach a wider audience, there are differences in each to consider before deciding which one to choose for your business. Let’s break down captioning vs subtitling, their definitions, and how they help businesses grow.

Captioning vs. Subtitling: Unravelling Their Meaning and Benefits

Captions

Captions are a textual transcript of a video’s dialogue, sound effects, and music. They are primarily used to support users experiencing difficulty with audio comprehension, making them more accessible to the context of the video.

For instance, when the audio captures the gentle rustling of leaves in a brisk wind, the caption would read: [Leaves Rustling]

Captions include:

  • Background noises
  • Speaker differentiation
  • Environmental sounds
  • Emotional tone
  • Non-screen information
  • Technical terminology
  • On-screen text

There are two types of captions. Open captions and closed captions. Open captions are permanently fixed in the video itself. They cannot be turned off. Users don’t have any control over these captions. This is used in videos where two characters are speaking in different languages.

Users have the option to toggle the closed captions on or off. This makes them popular, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube because users have control over it. Technologies like Reverie’s speech-to-text API provide closed captions seamlessly, making your multimedia content more engaging and accessible to a wider audience.

Benefits of Captioning

  1. Accessibility for Viewers With Hearing Impairment

Transcription and real-time captioning significantly enhance content accessibility, particularly for individuals with hearing impairments. As spoken words are transformed into synchronized text, those who may face challenges in auditory comprehension can read and understand video content effectively. This not only caters to the needs of a specific audience but broadens the viewership to include a larger demographic. For instance, In a professional environment, consider a company conducting virtual training sessions for its employees across various locations. Real-time captioning becomes invaluable in ensuring that all team members, including those with hearing impairments, can fully engage with and comprehend the training material. This inclusivity not only fosters a supportive workplace but also guarantees that crucial information is accessible to everyone, irrespective of their individual abilities.

2. Improved User Experience in Noisy or Quiet Environments

Suppose your users want to watch your content immediately and they are stuck in a noisy bus or they are in a public library. The advantage of captions in these diverse environments lies in their ability to overcome auditory challenges and enhance user engagement. In bustling public spaces like public transport or restaurants, where ambient noise can drown out audio, captions in Hindi and other languages act as visual aids, allowing users to follow and comprehend video content. Conversely, in quiet environments like libraries, where maintaining silence is paramount, captions become an essential component for users to consume video content without disturbing others. Overall, the versatility of captions addresses the diverse settings in which users consume content, contributing to a more inclusive, engaging, and user-friendly multimedia experience.

3. Boosts SEO for Video Content

Certain keywords or phrases that appear in the video sometimes are missed in the title or the description. Adding Hindi captions or any other language captions to your videos makes them more visible to the search results and customers can find them easily. For example, if a tutorial video on a cooking channel includes spoken instructions about preparing a traditional Indian dish, adding Hindi captions ensures that key terms related to the recipe are embedded in the video’s metadata. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of the video appearing in search results when Hindi-speaking users specifically look for content related to that dish. In this way, captioning not only aids viewers in understanding the content but also strategically enhances the video’s visibility, making it more accessible and discoverable to a broader audience.

Subtitles

Unlike captions, subtitles assume the viewer can hear the audio and are mostly used when the viewer cannot understand the language. Subtitles are written text conveying the spoken content of audio in various forms of visual media, such as films, TV shows, operas, or other audiovisual productions. They can include a transcription or translation of the spoken dialogue. It is used when the user doesn’t speak the language in the video. 

Benefits of Subtitling

  1. Accessibility for Viewers Who Cannot Speak the Source Language

Subtitles translate the audio in the content which makes the video accessible to a broader audience who cannot speak the original language in the video.

  1. Improved User Engagement on Social Media

The longer a user watches the video on social media, the more engaged they are. Subtitles make it easier for the user to follow along and recommend it to friends, family, and work circles for viewing.  

  1. Language Learning Support

Subtitles aid language learners such as ESL (English as a Second Language) learners by providing a visual representation of spoken words, aiding in vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation.

Captioning vs Subtitling: Use Cases 

Use Cases for Captioning

Mass Media

An intriguing statistic reveals that within the last year, 81% of podcast enthusiasts in India have entered the podcasting realm for the first time. That’s a massive uptick. Now imagine a business-oriented podcast discussing market trends. With live captions enabled, key insights of the discussion such as best practices, strategies, and tools become searchable text, aiding both SEO and content discovery. Not only that captions also help accommodate a wider audience fostering a more inclusive and engaging listening experience for podcast listeners.

eLearning

Captioning in e-learning platforms significantly enhances accessibility, benefiting students with learning disabilities, particularly those with hearing impairments. Take the example of Khan Academy, a renowned online learning platform. By providing captions in Hindi and other languages in their educational content, they ensure that learners with diverse linguistic backgrounds and hearing challenges can comprehend content effectively.

Healthcare

In the healthcare industry, captioning plays a vital role, particularly in training videos aimed at medical professionals. Consider a situation where a hospital provides online training modules for its staff on a new medical procedure. By incorporating captions into the instructional videos, medical professionals can benefit in several ways. During training sessions, captions aid comprehension in noisy or busy environments, such as a bustling hospital. Also consider this scenario, a surgeon learning a new surgical technique can refer to on-screen captions to reinforce their understanding of specific steps or terminology used in the procedure. This not only supports the learning process but also contributes to the accuracy and precision of medical practices.

Use Cases for Subtitling

Media and Entertainment

Consider Netflix’s approach with the series “Sacred Games,” a popular Indian show available in multiple languages, including Hindi and Marathi as the show is set in Mumbai. By providing subtitles in English, Marathi, and other regional languages, Netflix ensures the show’s accessibility to a wider audience across various states. This not only broadens the viewer base but also fosters cultural inclusivity, allowing individuals from different linguistic backgrounds to enjoy and comprehend the content. Subtitling thus becomes a strategic tool for OTT platforms to expand their reach and connect with a diverse, national audience.

Gaming

The worldwide video game industry is undergoing a surge in popularity. In fact, by 2024, there are expected to be 3.3 billion gamers worldwide and Asia will be home to almost half of them. Modern gaming is filled with cutscenes between characters interacting with each other. This has blurred the lines between video games and movies. For instance, in a game like “Resident Evil 4” extensive subtitling during cutscenes ensures players grasp intricate dialogues and narrative nuances, crucial for immersion. Subtitles play a pivotal role in conveying essential instructions during quests so that players can complete each level by fully comprehending and enjoying the intricate details of the game world, regardless of their language proficiency or hearing abilities.

Government 

The government often creates public service announcement (PSA) videos to communicate critical information to the public, such as emergency preparedness, health guidelines, or civic responsibilities. Subtitling these Public Service Announcements (PSA) in different languages serves as a crucial tool for ensuring effective communication and maximizing reach.

What’s Better for Your Business? Captioning vs Subtitling

As India’s video consumption continues to surge, the importance of captioning and subtitling services cannot be overstated. Businesses aiming to cater to diverse linguistic audiences must carefully consider their needs. Captions in Hindi, with its real-time transcription, enhance accessibility and user experience, particularly for the hearing-impaired and largely Hindi-speaking nation.  Alternatively, subtitles will help you with the shareability of content across different domains and markets and will help non-native speakers understand your videos in a better way. 

Whether your business prioritizes accessibility, engagement, or both, understanding the nuances of captioning vs. subtitling is key. Tailoring your approach based on specific goals ensures effective communication in India’s dynamic and linguistically rich landscape.

Captioning and Subtitling: Enhancing the Viewer Experience 

As technology continues to evolve, so does the demand for video subtitling and captioning services. In recent years, the surge in popularity of streaming and social media platforms has made it even more important to be able to offer subtitles and captions in multiple languages enhancing the viewer experience. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses must be aware of the latest trends and advances in both these technologies. 

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Reverie Language Technologies Limited, a leader in Indian language localisation and user engagement technology solutions for over a decade, is working towards a vision to create Language Equality on the Internet.

Reverie’s language practice is dedicated to helping clients future-proof their rapidly expanding content by combining cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Neural Machine Translation (NMT) with best-practice approaches for optimizing content and business processes.

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