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Grupo Profissional

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Subtitle A Thousand Words


Among many benefits, subtitles offer a new approach to language comprehension. In fact, a study by Holger Mitterer (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) and James McQueen confirms that when used as a supplement to regular studying, subtitles help students learn a language faster.

Unlike language learning apps or foreign language classes that typically slow down the speaking rate, movies with subtitles play at the same pace as a normal conversation. For new language learners, this may feel fast. The benefit of this is that it will stretch your listening comprehension and also help to increase your reading speed.

While you might know one way to say everyday words such as lunch or hotel, movies expose you to new phrases. Some of which might be more common than the traditional word you learned. How so More often than not, foreign films use less formal, slang words that are common among native speakers. Reading subtitles is a great way for viewers to expand their vocabulary.

Reading subtitles as they play on the screen also improves grammar. Take advantage of the pause button, and stop to study the captions on the screen. This helps language learners identify and understand verb types, tenses, and phrases. Seeing a new language in this unconventional way leads to better overall comprehension.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then movies are worth a million. Especially when it comes to learning a new language. The visual aspect of film helps to support listening comprehension along with vocabulary recall. In addition to new vocab, you get a visual to associate with it. This means that individuals learn more when watching a movie with subtitles than just listening to audio.

Creating professional subtitles is nothing short of an art. It takes time, care and technical knowledge. In 2021, people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of subtitling videos, not only for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences but also for hearing audiences. As we mentioned in a previous post, most social media users watch videos on mute!

The second image shows a subtitle created following industry guidelines. These put audience experience at the forefront. The subtitle is neat, easy to read, and timed just right so that it follows the audio and the editing of the video.

Imagine going to the cinema to watch a foreign film. The film starts, and as the dialogue begins, the first subtitles appear. You stare in horror: the subtitles go from the left corner of the screen all the way to the right one. You move your head from side to side to read and barely have time to look at the actual shot.

The above is an extreme example, but avoiding this situation is exactly why subtitles use proportional fonts and have character limits. Keeping the text clustered on the screen gives viewers more time to glance at the action and read the text.

In relation to the previous point, professional subtitles do not contain meaningless hesitations and repetitions that might make their way into, for example, the transcript of an interview. This way, we ensure that they are coherent grammatical units that are easy to understand and fast to read.

For this reason, subtitles should be only one or two lines at most. In subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH), the subtitler may use three lines if there is no alternative way of keeping subtitles close to verbatim; deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences who cannot access the audio may consider edited subtitles a form of censorship.

When subtitles start just before a shot change (a change in camera angle or a scene change) viewers tend to reread them. When subtitles start too many frames before or after the corresponding audio, it feels jarring. Well-timed subtitles, however, flow seamlessly with the audio and the edit of the content.

Professional subtitles are timed to shot changes; they end right before the shot changes and start with the new shot. Other timing rules specify that gaps between subtitles should


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