Subtitles vs. Captions – A comprehensive Guide

Subtitles vs. Captions – A Complete Overview

The following article will tell you the described information on subtitles and captions. We can say differences between or subtitles vs. captions.

While streaming online, you may hear of subtitles, captions, closed captions and open captions, etc. What exactly are they meant to do?

Currently, every day we are consuming VOD (video-on-demand) content and have several OTT (over-the-top) services or platforms.

[What is VOD and the Difference Between SVOD, TVOD and AVOD?]

If you watch any of the content using any streaming platform (could be a movie, TV shows, web series, etc.) you might have noticed sometimes it shows, text summary on that video content.

Exactly, that text summary could be subtitle or a caption for the video content.

Subtitles vs. Captions: How They Differ from Each Other?

subtitles vs. captions

To understand in depth what subtitles and captions are, you need to read these topics individually below:

What is a Subtitle?

With the help of subtitles, viewers anywhere may access high-quality videos in any language.

Here is a brief explanation or meaning of the subtitles in relation to video content.

The spoken speech is translated into another language via the lines of text at the bottom of the screen known as subtitles. While TV series and other video content, including internet videos and social media clips, can also utilize subtitles.

Subtitles are predicated on the viewer’s inability to understand the language but ability to hear the audio. Subtitles offer a written rendition of the audio in a video.

Movies are the most common example for subtitles. For viewers who are not fluent in the target language, subtitles serve as translations.

For instance, foreign films are accompanied by subtitles. Subtitles that are standard assume that the viewer has audio.

For some viewers who might not be able to hear the audio, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are written.

Subtitles are typically written in white with a black drop shadow and no background.

Example for a subtitle

Key Points

  • Subtitles translate a movie or a program’s original language into the language of the viewer.
  • The translated captions of audio files, generally from foreign-language movies, TV shows, or a video, are called subtitles.
  • Many languages are supported via subtitles on international streaming platforms including Netflix, Apple TV, and Disney +.

What are Captions?

When a video is captioned, spoken words and noises are displayed in text. The most common places to view captions are on television, in online videos, etc. There are several ways to show captions.

The captions can be positioned and colored to show who is speaking; they are often shown at the bottom of the aired video.

Example of captions

Key Points:

  • Captions are a textual transcript of the music, sound effects, and speech in a video, movie or a program.
  • In addition, captions provide information about additional aural cues such as background music and sound effects.
  • People who are hard of hearing or deaf can better comprehend spoken words and other audio content with the aid of captions.

Nowadays there are two common types of captions being used as follows:

  1. Closed Captions
  2. Open Captions
Closed Captions:

Closed captions are likely a text version of the audio content of a video program within a media file, or a movie. Also known as CC and you may have seen on YouTube platform.

Closed captions

This includes spoken words, information about who is speaking, and any sounds relevant to understanding context and meaning.

For example: [laughter], [applause], [ominous music], the lyrics to a song playing in the background, etc.

The closed captions are almost the same as open captions, just one difference that the viewer can control them. This means a viewer or a user can turn-off anytime.

Open Captions:

Captions for movies, TV shows, and internet videos are always visible when they have open captions. It provides crucial auditory information and speech on screen, much like closed captions or subtitles.

The major role of open captions is that they cannot be turned on or off. This is due to the fact that they are integrated into the video track and not inserted as an external file at a later time. Viewers don’t have control or accessibility.

open captions

Closed Captions vs. Open Captions

Here are a few key differences between closed captions and open captions:

Closed Captions Open Captions
  • Can be turned on or off
  • You cannot turn it off.
  • Uploaded as a separate file
  • Added to the video file (burned into the video)
  • Can be edited
  • Can’t be edited
  • Once added, its permanent
  • It comes in many formats.
  • Majorly used on online streaming platforms
  • Used on social media platforms
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