Captions vs. Subtitles: Do You Know the Difference?
Updated: June 3, 2019
What are captions?
The first captions could not be turned off (open captions) and were part of the video itself. Soon after, closed captions were developed, allowing viewers to turn the caption feature on and off. Today, both closed and open captioning are widely available in many forms across movie theaters, cable networks, devices, live streaming services, and most internet video players like YouTube, Vimeo, and Brightcove.
Captions, both open and closed, are different from subtitles in that they are designed to ensure the viewer can understand all of the essential audio in the video — not just the spoken audio. Non-speech sounds that are necessary to the understanding of the video are also a critical element of proper captioning and are normally shown in brackets (as in the above example of the puppy attempting to bark angrily).
What are subtitles?
To accommodate foreign audiences who did not understand the language used in the film, this required text on screen that translated the spoken audio.
The above screenshot shows an example of Spanish subtitles from the movie Homeward Bound. In the film’s audio, Chance (voiced in English by Michael J. Fox) is saying, “Okay. Cats rule and dogs drool.”
The main purpose of subtitling is to translate spoken audio into the viewer’s language. In most cases, subtitles are not an appropriate accommodation for deaf and hard of hearing viewers because they do not include non-speech sounds that provide an equivalent viewing experience for people who cannot hear.
Want to learn more about captions and subtitles? Download the free Beginner’s Guide to Captioning!
New Resources from W3C on How to Make Video Accessible
The World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C, is an international organization that develops standards for the web. Overseen by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, W3C’s mission is to lead the web to its full potential so…
5 Ways Transcripts Can Improve Your Podcast
Podcasting is a valuable marketing tool, but what if we told you that with transcripts, you can squeeze even more value out of your audio content? Why Podcasts? The way people consume content is changing. Brands must create content that…
Everything You Need to Know About ACCESS 2019!
On Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, we hosted our 6th ACCESS by 3Play Media conference. Since 2017, we’ve hosted ACCESS conferences across the United States – from Washington D.C. and New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. This year’s conference was extra…