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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Subtitle Translations

Most Common Places where Subtitles are Used
Source: Wikipedia
In several countries or regions nearly all foreign language TV programs are subtitled, instead of dubbed, notably in:
  • Albania
  • Arabic countries (In Lebanon both Arabic and French are shown simultaneously)
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium (Subtitles in Dutch in Flanders, dubbed into French in Wallonia, bilingual [Dutch-French] subtitles in Flemish movie theaters, dubbed versions in Wallonia)
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil (cable/satellite TV only)
  • Bulgaria
  • Chile (cable/satellite TV only)
  • Colombia (cable/satellite TV only)
  • Cuba
  • Costa Rica (cable/satellite TV, and on some national channels like Channel 7)
  • Croatia (Subtitles in Croatian)
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland (Subtitles in Finnish or Swedish, Finland is bilingual)
  • Greece (Subtitles in Greek)
  • Hong Kong (Dubbing in Cantonese often happens, but subtitling is also common, since these foreign programs are often broadcast in multiple languages.)
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia (Subtitles in Indonesian, some foreign movies have subtitles of more than one language)
  • Israel (Non-Hebrew television programmes and films are always translated into Hebrew with subtitles. Bilingual Hebrew/Arabic or Hebrew/Russian subtitling, showing translation into both languages simultaneously, is very common on public TV channels. Dubbing is restricted to programmes and films aimed at children below school age. As of 2008 the closed captioning industry in Israel is on the rise since a law has been approved, stating that all the Hebrew programmes of The Israeli Television must be subtitled for the hearing impaired. Moreover, in recent years it became a norm in other channels and broadcasting bodies in Israel.)
  • Ireland
  • Japan (live-action only)
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia (Subtitles programming of various languages to Malay, as well as certain Malay-language live action programs to English. Usually, animation is exempted from subtitling. Indian and Chinese movies usually have subtitles of more than one languages)
  • Montenegro (Subtitles in Montenegrin)
  • The Netherlands (Subtitles in Dutch, children's shows are dubbed)
  • Norway (Norwegian subtitles in all foreign programmes except children's shows)
  • Peru (in Aymara and Quechua)
  • Portugal
  • Romania (the TV channels that show cartoons are dubbed - Cartoon NetworkDisney ChannelMinimax)
  • Serbia (Subtitles in Serbian language, children's shows and teleshopping are dubbed)
  • Slovenia
  • Singapore (Even though the official language of Singapore is English, and the indigenous language is Malay, many TV programmes have Chinese subtitles for the benefit of immigrants from China, now settled for many generations)
  • South Africa (from AfrikaansSesothoXhosa and Zulu into English)
  • South Korea (Subtitles in Korean)
  • Sweden (Subtitles in Swedish, children's shows are exempted from subtitling)
  • Taiwan (Mandarin subtitles appear on most shows and all news or live action broadcasts)
  • Turkey (Ethnical languages of the country in TRT 3)
  • Ukraine (TV shows in Russian are often shown with Ukrainian subtitles)
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay (cable/satellite TV only)
  • Venezuela (cable/satellite TV only)
It is also common that television services in minority languages subtitle their programmes in the dominating language as well. Examples include the Welsh S4C and Irish TG4 who subtitle in English and theSwedish FST5 in Finland who subtitle in the majority language Finnish.
In Wallonia (Belgium) films are usually dubbed, but sometimes they are played on two channels at the same time: one dubbed (on La Une) and the other subtitled (on La Deux), but due to low ratings not much anymore.
In Australia, one FTA network, SBS airs its foreign-language shows subtitled in English.

Types of Subtitles

While distributing content, subtitles can appear in one of 3 types:
  • Hard (also known as hardsubs or open subtitles). The subtitle text is irreversibly merged in original video frames, and so no special equipment or software is required for playback. Hence, very complex transition effects and animation can be implemented, such as karaoke song lyrics using various colors, fonts, sizes, animation (like a bouncing ball) etc. to follow the lyrics. However, these subtitles cannot be turned off unless the original video is also included in the distribution as they are now part of the original frame, and thus it is impossible to have several variants of subtitling, such as in multiple languages.
  • Prerendered subtitles are separate video frames that are overlaid on the original video stream while playing. Prerendered subtitles are used on DVD (though they are contained in the same file as the video stream). It is possible to turn them off or have multiple language subtitles and switch among them, but the player has to support such subtitles to display them. Also, subtitles are usually encoded as images with minimal bitrate and number of colors; they usually lack anti-aliased font rasterization. Also, changing such subtitles is hard, but special OCR software, such as SubRip exists to convert such subtitles to "soft" ones.
  • Soft (also known as softsubs or closed subtitles) are separate instructions, usually a specially marked up text with time stamps to be displayed during playback. It requires player support and, moreover, there are multiple incompatible (but usually reciprocally convertible) subtitle file formats. Softsubs are relatively easy to create and change, and thus are frequently used for fansubs. Text rendering quality can vary depending on the player, but is generally higher than prerendered subtitles. Also, some formats introduce text encoding troubles for the end-user, especially if very different languages are used simultaneously (for example, Latin and Asian scripts).
In other categorization, digital video subtitles are sometimes called internal, if they're embedded in a single video file container along with video and audio streams, and external if they are distributed as separate file (that is less convenient, but it is easier to edit/change such file).

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