Sometimes, mainly at film festivals, subtitles may be shown on a separate display below the screen, thus saving the film-maker from creating a subtitled copy for perhaps just one showing. Television subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing is also referred to as closed captioning in some countries.
Professional subtitlers usually work with specialized computer software and hardware where the video is digitally stored on a hard disk, making each individual frame instantly accessible. Besides creating the subtitles, the subtitler usually also tells the computer software the exact positions where each subtitle should appear and disappear. For cinema film, this task is traditionally done by separate technicians. The result is a subtitle file containing the actual subtitles as well as position markers indicating where each subtitle should appear and disappear. These markers are usually based on timecode if it is a work for electronic media (e.g., TV, video, DVD), or on film length (measured in feet and frames) if the subtitles are to be used for traditional cinema film.
Subtitles can also be created by individuals using freely available subtitle-creation software like Subtitle Workshop for Windows, MovieCaptioner for Mac/Windows, and Subtitle Composer for Linux, and then hardcode them onto a video file with programs such as VirtualDub in combination with VSFilter which could also be used to show subtitles as softsubs in many software video players.
Same-language captioning can improve literacy and reading growth across a broad range of reading abilities. It is used for this purpose by national television broadcasters in China and in India such as Doordarshan. It is also increasingly popular among younger viewers for several reasons: it allows them to understand dialogue that is poorly enunciated or in difficult-to-understand dialects; and it allows them to quickly take in what happens on-screen, which allows them to alternate their attention between the subtitled medium and their smartphone. A 2021 UK survey found that 80% of viewers between 18 and 25 regularly used subtitles, while less than a quarter of those between 56 and 75 did.
Closed captioning is the American term for closed subtitles specifically intended for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. These are a transcription rather than a translation, and usually also contain lyrics and descriptions of important non-dialogue audio such as (SIGHS), (WIND HOWLING), ("SONG TITLE" PLAYING), (KISSES), (THUNDER RUMBLING) and (DOOR CREAKING). From the expression "closed captions", the word "caption" has in recent years come to mean a subtitle intended for the deaf or hard-of-hearing, be it "open" or "closed". In British English, "subtitles" usually refers to subtitles for the deaf or hard-of-hearing (SDH); however, the term "SDH" is sometimes used when there is a need to make a distinction between the two.
Programs such as news bulletins, current affairs programs, sports, some talk shows, and political and special events utilize real time or online captioning. Live captioning is increasingly common, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, as a result of regulations that stipulate that virtually all TV eventually must be accessible for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. In practice, however, these "real time" subtitles will typically lag the audio by several seconds due to the inherent delay in transcribing, encoding, and transmitting the subtitles. Real time subtitles are also challenged by typographic errors or mishearing of the spoken words, with no time available to correct before transmission.
Subtitles for the deaf or hard-of-hearing (SDH) is an American term introduced by the DVD industry. It refers to regular subtitles in the original language where important non-dialogue information has been added, as well as speaker identification, which may be useful when the viewer cannot otherwise visually tell who is saying what.
The only significant difference for the user between SDH subtitles and closed captions is their appearance: SDH subtitles usually are displayed with the same proportional font used for the translation subtitles on the DVD; however, closed captions are displayed as white text on a black band, which blocks a large portion of the view. Closed captioning is falling out of favor as many users have no difficulty reading SDH subtitles, which are text with contrast outline. In addition, DVD subtitles can specify many colors on the same character: primary, outline, shadow, and background. This allows subtitlers to display subtitles on a usually translucent band for easier reading; however, this is rare, since most subtitles use an outline and shadow instead, in order to block a smaller portion of the picture. Closed captions may still supersede DVD subtitles, since many SDH subtitles present all of the text centered (an example of this is DVDs and Blu-ray Discs manufactured by Warner Bros.), while closed captions usually specify position on the screen: centered, left align, right align, top, etc. This is helpful for speaker identification and overlapping conversation. Some SDH subtitles (such as the subtitles of newer Universal Studios DVDs/Blu-ray Discs and most 20th Century Fox Blu-ray Discs, and some Columbia Pictures DVDs) do have positioning, but it is not as common.
DVDs for the U.S. market now sometimes have three forms of English subtitles: SDH subtitles; English subtitles, helpful for viewers who may not be hearing impaired but whose first language may not be English (although they are usually an exact transcript and not simplified); and closed caption data that is decoded by the end-user's closed caption decoder. Most anime releases in the U.S. only include translations of the original material as subtitles; therefore, SDH subtitles of English dubs ("dubtitles") are uncommon.
High-definition disc media (HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc) uses SDH subtitles as the sole method because technical specifications do not require HD to support line 21 closed captions. Some Blu-ray Discs, however, are said to carry a closed caption stream that only displays through standard-definition connections. Many HDTVs allow the end-user to customize the captions, including the ability to remove the black band.
Song lyrics are not always captioned, as additional copyright permissions may be required to reproduce the lyrics on-screen as part of the subtitle track. In October 2015, major studios and Netflix were sued over this practice, citing claims of false advertising (as the work is henceforth not completely subtitled) and civil rights violations (under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, guaranteeing equal rights for people with disabilities). Judge Stephen Victor Wilson dismissed the suit in September 2016, ruling that allegations of civil rights violations did not present evidence of intentional discrimination against viewers with disabilities, and that allegations over misrepresenting the extent of subtitles "fall far short of demonstrating that reasonable consumers would actually be deceived as to the amount of subtitled content provided, as there are no representations whatsoever that all song lyrics would be captioned, or even that the content would be 'fully' captioned."
Although same-language subtitles and captions are produced primarily with the deaf and hard-of-hearing in mind, they may also be used to ensure understanding of dialogue (such as those spoken quietly or mixed in with sound effects, by those with accents unfamiliar to the intended audience, or supportive dialogue from background or off-screen characters). Jason Kehe of Wired noted that habitual use of subtitles by the non-deaf has been a growing trend for these reasons, and to help pick up on additional details and information found within dialogue. He drew comparisons to the ubiquity of search engines by stating that "just like Google, closed captions are there, eminently accessible, ready to clarify the unclarities, and so, desperately, we, the paranoids and obsessive-compulsives and postmodern completists, click." Studies (including those by the University of Nottingham and the What Works Clearinghouse of the United States Department of Education) have found that use of subtitles can help promote reading comprehension in school-aged children.
In some East Asian countries, especially Chinese-speaking ones, subtitling is common in all taped television programs. In these countries, written text remains mostly uniform while regional dialects in the spoken form can be mutually unintelligible. Therefore, subtitling offers a distinct advantage to aid comprehension. With subtitles, programs in Standard Mandarin or any dialect can be understood by viewers unfamiliar with it.
On-screen subtitles as seen in Japanese variety television shows are more for decorative purpose, something that is not seen in television in Europe and the Americas. Some shows even place sound effects over those subtitles. This practice of subtitling has been spread to neighbouring countries including South Korea and Taiwan. ATV in Hong Kong once practiced this style of decorative subtitles on its variety shows when it was owned by Want Want Holdings in Taiwan (which also owns CTV and CTI).
Some subtitlers purposely provide edited subtitles or captions to match the needs of their audience, for learners of the spoken dialogue as a second or foreign language, visual learners, beginning readers who are deaf or hard of hearing and for people with learning and/or mental disabilities. For example, for many of its films and television programs, PBS displays standard captions representing speech from the program audio, word-for-word, if the viewer selects "CC1" by using the television remote control or on-screen menu; however, they also provide edited captions to present simplified sentences at a slower rate, if the viewer selects "CC2". Programs with a diverse audience also often have captions in another language. This is common with popular Latin American soap operas in Spanish. Since CC1 and CC2 share bandwidth, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends translation subtitles be placed in CC3. CC4, which shares bandwidth with CC3, is also available, but programs seldom use it. 2b1af7f3a8