Have you ever wondered what questions subtitlers usually ask before they begin on a subtitling project? Well, not every client in need of subtitling services has the same rules and guidelines for how they want their subtitles done. Therefore, it is very important to ask a few questions in the beginning before you work on any project.
Below we will look at the different questions that you as a subtitler should ask, which will make your work super-fast and easy flowing.
What is the specific number of characters that should appear per line (CPL)?
This question will help you understand how many numbers of characters you should have on a line instead of making a conclusion based on a previous client you have worked with before. Different clients want different things, and you should be able to deliver in the best way possible. If you worked with a client who wanted 4 characters on a line, don’t conclude and do the same for another client, be sure to confirm first. Different video types take on different number of characters so be sure to inquire on this before you begin creating the subtitles.
How many lines should the subtitles be?
Normally subtitles can be one line or two and that is what you are used to as a subtitler, but you should not make a conclusion based on that. You will be shocked once you hear your client telling you that they want three lines for each subtitle, and you will have to do that without any query whatsoever. When taking on a subtitling job make sure to ask how many lines the client wants for each subtitle.
For how long should the caption display?
Depending on how short or long the captions are, there is always a standard length of time that they should display on the screen. As a subtitler taking on a new project, it is your job to inquire from your client on how long they want the captions to display on the screen. It might be 1.5 seconds for short captions like straight answers to questions or 8 seconds for other normal captions. You will not know this unless you ask.
How should the subtitles appear?
There are clients who usually prefer their subtitles mounted on the videos and there are others who dislike it. To avoid annoying your client by doing something they did not ask of you, be sure to inquire about how they want their subtitles to appear on the screen. Ask them whether they want them mounted, floating in and out, or flashing in and out. Every client has different preferences.
What font size they are comfortable with?
Rules and guidelines for subtitling are not the same across the board. When creating subtitles for a movie and creating subtitles for an animation or a cartoon you will pick up on small differences. Be sure to ask your client what font size or font style they want for their subtitles. Do not be the person who will have the fonts in bold and italicized and that time your client wanted a very minimalistic font for their subtitles.
Should they be colored?
After asking what size and style font your client is comfortable with, this should be the next question you should ask. Honestly, I have never seen colored subtitles and I bet you also haven’t. People will look at this as such a stupid question, but the reality is that you won’t fail to get surprised in this life. Be sure to ask your client whether they want colored subtitles or just normal plain black subtitles. This will save you a lot of time changing the colors if they tell you from scratch that they want purple-colored subtitles.
Should they have a background feature?
You have asked your client what font size and style they want for the subtitles and they have told you they need bold and italics. You’ve asked what color they want for their fonts and they say purple. The next question you should ask is whether they need the subtitle font to be accompanied by a background. By now this might be funny for you but believe me when I tell you, it is important to ask this. The client might want the fonts to have a shadow background or a mirrored background or just a plain background, make sure you have all this information.
Will some subtitles require extra time for best comprehension?
Be sure to ask which subtitles will need more screen display time for better comprehension on the viewers’ side. As much as there might be a standard time for screen display, there are specific scenes on a film that need emphasis when it comes to subtitles. This is usually done to ensure that the viewers can fully understand and comprehend the message that is being passed on the audio.
How will comprehension be hindered by displaying audio-visual elements?
This question is hand in hand with the question above. Depending on the answer you get for question number 8 it is important to follow up with this question so that you know how to work around the whole process to ensure your client gets the best results for their subtitled film.
Can the information be reduced to fit the space and time constraints?
Do not take it upon yourself to delete certain information because of space and time constraints without getting a heads up from the client. You might end up deleting information that is critical and important for the message intended on the film. Be sure to ask whether it is okay to delete certain information if you happen to get time and space constraints. If not, try your best to accommodate the information in a way that will not affect the final subtitled film.
Should there be speakers on the subtitle?
Normally speakers aren’t included in subtitles but there are clients who insist on having the speakers included. Make sure to ask about that too. You don’t want to have a scenario where you delete all the speakers, and then the clients ask you where the speakers are when you are already done with the project.
Is it okay to use a unique or different color marker to identify the various speakers?
If they want the speakers to be included, you must be able to make the visible differentiation between the speaker and what they said for the viewers to note. You can only do this by marking the speakers and that is exactly why you should ask before you go ahead and do it. The marking can make the subtitles untidy and the client might not appreciate it so be sure to ask this question.
Some of these questions might seem like common sense for someone who has been working as a subtitler for a long period. What you should know Is that regardless of how long you been working as a subtitler, when a client says he or she wants their subtitles to appear a certain way, that is exactly what you have to deliver on. Asking these questions will also make your work easier and avoid a lot of back and forth where you need to make changes on a project which you have already completed.
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