What does a Subtitler do?
Subtitlers make it possible for films to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world and by the deaf and hard of hearing. They translate all the dialogue, music and sound effects of a film into two-line written captions that appear on the screen, either in the language in which the film is made or in a foreign language.
After carefully watching and listening to the whole film, they write captions with accurate time codes that describe music and sound effects as well as the dialogue and voice-overs. The captions have to be punctuated and spelt correctly and should be on the screen long enough to be read easily. Translating subtitlers translate the dialogue and write subtitles in the language for a particular audience.
Once they’ve done that and checked that all spelling is correct and that captions don’t obscure characters’ faces, the files are sent to the post-production house (transferring the final soundtrack onto the film in all the various formats). It can then be distributed to cinemas offering subtitled screenings or to cinemas around the world.
Subtitlers are usually employed by specialist post-production companies but sometimes work on a freelance basis.
What's a Subtitler good at?
Spell, punctuate and use grammar accurately
Translate the dialogue into the required language sensitively (for Translator Subtitlers)
Screen spatial awareness
Understand how captions will appear on a screen and their impact on the viewing
Attention to detail
Work precisely to tight deadlines with text and timing
Interest in deaf audiences
Care about the experiences of the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Use of software
Be adept in using the subtitling software
How do I become a Subtitler?
Many post-production companies that offer subtitling services train the Subtitlers themselves. If you have an interest in becoming a Subtitler, practice your language skills and keep a portfolio of writing examples. You can reach out to post-production houses and inquire
Educational Requirements: You might find courses in film post-production, language skills, and courses on transcription and subtitling software to be helpful.
For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.
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