What are SDH subtitles?

The SDH stands for Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-hearing. Closed captioning is specifically for the deaf or hard-of-hearing people, so it has information such as sound effects, music symbols or music descriptions, character ID when the character is not seen on the screen and also pertinent descriptions of the dialog such as:

Where are you? (whispers)

For a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, the same information is needed to make it easier to enjoy the content. So SDH subtitles not only translate the foreign language to their native language, it also provides the enhanced descriptions of closed captioning where important non-dialog information has been added, as well as speaker identification, useful when the viewer cannot otherwise visually tell who is saying what.
Video Sample of SDH subtitles.

Difference between Subtitles and Closed Captions

Unlike closed captioning that is done to help with overcoming the sound barrier (for the deaf and hard of hearing), subtitles are done to overcome the language barrier. Subtitles do not require sound effects to be added as he viewer is able to hear them. Subtitles do not require Character IDs to be added before dialogues when the speaker is not seen on the screen as the viewers know who is speaking. Subtitles do not require music cues for the same reason, but they do require lyrics of a song to be translated if the song lyrics are pertinent to a scene. Subtitles are not placed like captions close to the speaker. They are all placed at the center bottom of the screen. Different fonts can be used. While closed captions are limited to 32 characters per caption line, subtitles are generally displayed with more number of characters — even up to 52 characters. All electronic dialogue (coming out of a radio, TV or PA system are written in upper case.

Compare the difference between closed captioning and subtitling

Video Sample of a video clip closed captioned

Video Sample of the same video clip with Spanish subtitled.

What are Forced Narratives

We all know what Subtitles are: Audible dialogue that is spoken in a language that is translated on the screen in the language that the viewer understands. But what about the written text that is the part of the visual content such as these example:

“YEAR 2003” This kind of text builds the foundation for a scene. Remember the Star War trilogy and the opening crawl? “IT IS A PERIOD OF CIVIL WAR. REBEL SPACESHIPS, STRIKING FROM A HIDDEN BASE HAVE WON THEIR FIRST VICTORY…” If the viewer needs the spoken dialogue to be translated to the language that they understand, then they will also need all the text that appears as a visual to fully understand the context of the scene. How about a sign that says, LIVE EXPLOSIVES AREA. DO NOT ENTER CONSTRUCTION SITE. Without being able to read this sign the viewer will miss the danger that the character will be in thereby missing a very important feature of the video content. What if the male character enters a Ladies bathroom. The import of the situation will be missed unless they know what’s written on the sign. Forced Narrative in the world of subtitling mean all the text in the visual form appearing on the screen that is FORCED to be translated to communicate the nuance of the scene which would otherwise be missed due to not understanding of the language it is written in. This is done for subtitling and dubbing. When a show or a film is exhibited in a different country, the primary language dialogue AND place names, explanations, time, backstories etc are all FORCED to be displayed in the translated language. These are called ‘Forced Narratives. Normally, all Forced Narratives are displayed in upper case to make a distinction between spoken dialogue and unspoken narrative.

Video Sample of Forced Narratives

Talking Type's subtitling workflow

1. We will first QC the English stl file that you will send to us. 2. We export a time code and subtitle file. This file has the English subtitles with time codes. 3. We create an excel file with this exported text that has time code in, time code out, and the two lines of subtitles in individual columns. 4. These are sent to our vetted translators who add the translations along the English text in a separate column. The time codes are maintained throughout. 5. We receive this translation and after inspection, import it into our captioning software. Since these subtitles have used exactly the same time codes in the English text, all the time codes are perfect. 6. We create a proxy video with subtitles and send it either to our client to check (if that’s we’re asked to do) or to another editor who watches the subtitled video and makes corrections to the excel file that we have received from the first translator. 7. We incorporate the changes to the imported subtitle file. 8. After the final QC, we export the final deliverable subtile file and send it off to the client.

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