Subtitling Style Options
Get greater control of the how the subtitles look
This quick guide, demonstrates the most common subtitle style options available.
If you’re working on a video project for a client, with brand guidelines as long as your arm, chances are, they’ll prefer Open Captions i.e. subtitles which are burnt-in to the video and can’t be turned off. Open captions become a fixed part of the image. With open captions you have complete control over how the subtitles look. This is because the captions are encoded into the video file itself.
On the other hand, with Closed Captions the appearance can’t be changed. You can’t change how YouTube or Facebook’s subtitles look. Their video players display the caption text in one style only. You can turn the captions on/off because the video player is pulling the text from a separate file (normally a SubRip file .SRT) and the player renders the text on the screen. Closed captions are great if you want to host a single video on your site but offer subtitles in multiple languages. Not so great, if you want to match the subtitles to your brand, or just have more control of the font, colour and placement.
We’ve listed out the common subtitling style options below. If you’re not sure what the best option is, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Common Open Caption Style Options
Download the PDF guide HERE
The most ‘traditional’ subtitling option. A standard white font (normally Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif font-family) with drop shadow, on two lines. In the above image, the subtitle font is about the smallest you’d want for an HD video, otherwise it can be difficult to read.
We recommend this option for the majority of our customers. As you can see, with the black opacity box, the text is much clearer on bright backgrounds and equally will stand out on dark backgrounds. It’s also not intrusive.
This choice is designed for online video, 720p resolution and above only. The single line only works on HD video content and requires the subtitles to be placed outside the title-safe area, meaning that the text may appear cut off if the video is later used for DVD or on television monitors.
This style is similar to option 3. The main difference being that the black box fits the width of the screen. By default the box stays on screen even when the subtitles are not present. The black bar can be opaque.
This subtitle style, is like option 2 and 4 combined. The black bar can be solid or opaque and normally stays on the screen throughout the video.
Custom Subtitle Styles
Download the PDF guide HERE
We can also fulfil custom subtitle styles and specifications. We know this is important to brands or for projects with a more creative flare. We can change colours, fonts and background. We can also re-position individual subtitles to avoid overlap with existing video graphics, such as lower-thirds with title and name of a speaker.
Custom subtitle styles may require additional video editing time due to the customisation involved. Almost anything is possible. Here are a couple of examples of specs we’ve fulfilled:
1 or 2 lines of subtitles?
With lower video resolutions (less than 720p) two lines of subtitles are definitely best. This is because the text is in a central position on screen with a larger font. We will do one line of Subtitles if requested, but the lower resolution and screen size will make the font very small and much harder to read.
Using one line of subtitles on lower resolution video, should only be considered for videos that will be viewed on large screens or projections. Should your video be 4:3 or 1:1 (square) format one line of subtitles will be too small to read comfortably on an average television set or mobile screen.
If you’re not sure, always go with the recommended option, option 2 above. It works with almost any video format or resolution.
Here are two screenshots which demonstrate how difficult it can be to read one line of subtitles on lower resolution video.
For video that is very low-resolution, it’s recommended we edit the frame size of the video and place the subtitles underneath. The example below is an old just 480 x 210 pixels resolution. We’ve embedded this in a 640 x 480 (480p) video which is a better size for most web players and makes the subtitles more legible. Optionally we could also increase the video size to fill out the frame more, but this could blur the image.