How to Create Foreign Language Subtitles

If you opened Netflix recently, you’ve probably seen a considerable selection of foreign language films. Anything from Korean soap dramas to the latest Italian action flick. And unless you’re polylingual, the reason you can watch these films is all thanks to foreign language subtitles.

Captions in different languages have made the world a more accessible place. It gives you access to more content than your native language can provide. This article will discuss foreign language subtitles, why they’re important, and how to make them.

What are Foreign Language Subtitles?

Foreign language subtitles are the text version of the dialog that appears at the bottom of the video, written in another language. For instance, if you have an English video, having Spanish text is a type of foreign language subtitle.

Foreign subtitles primarily aim at viewers who can’t speak the video’s native language. For people who are trying to learn a new language, foreign subtitles are also great teaching aids. Finally, like any kind of subtitle, they also benefit people with hearing disabilities.

Foreign language subtitles are traditionally created manually by a human. A transcriber first records the dialog in the video, then another person translates that into another language. The video editor then re-syncs the foreign subtitle back into the video.

Of course, it isn’t always that straightforward. Foreign subtitles can be tricky to make because translating between two languages isn’t always straightforward. Thus, there’s always the danger of things getting lost in translation.

For example, English has a different grammatical structure than Asian languages like Chinese or Japanese. In addition, some English sayings and phrases have no direct translation into another language.

Why Should You Include Captions in Different Languages?

One of the top reasons for adding subtitles to a video is to make it more accessible to a wider variety of audiences. This can impact your viewership significantly.

To see just how much more reach you can expect, it pays to know just how many English speakers there are. Because even though English is seen as the world’s primary language, not many people are fluent in it. In fact, surveys show that only 17% of the world’s population speak English – a little over 1.35 billion people. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot of English speakers. 

But you have the chance of reaching the remaining 83% of the world when you include foreign subtitles. Translate your English subtitle into Spanish, for instance, and you can effectively reach an additional 512 million viewers. Or reach 1.1 billion more eyeballs with a Chinese translation. Subtitles, when used this way, are exceptionally powerful at making video content universally available.

Subtitles also help you reach foreign viewers with hearing disabilities. According to a study by the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people around the world are hearing impaired.

Foreign subtitles can also help people watch in places where they can’t turn on the sound. Examples include the library or the daily commute aboard the train. In these cases, it’s still possible to understand a video thanks to foreign subtitles. In other words, subtitles allow more people to enjoy your video any time, anywhere. 

Another benefit of having foreign subtitles is that it helps maximize your search engine optimization (SEO) on foreign search engines. Google, Bing, and other search engines can’t “watch” video content to determine its relevance. Instead, it relies on metadata like titles and transcripts to understand what your video is about. 

Subtitles allow Google to read your video content. This can result in greater visibility and higher ranking in search results. It can also help connect your video to audiences who might find it relevant.

The transcripts you get from creating foreign language subtitles can also be repurposed for other types of marketing content in multiple languages. For instance, you can take parts of your video transcript and turn it into a blog post, ebook, or email newsletter. 

How to Create Foreign Language Subtitles

By now, you’re probably realizing how valuable creating captions in different languages can be for your marketing campaigns. There are many ways to translate video subtitles into another language, such as using an SRT translator software.

While you can spend time and money hiring a translator to perform manual video translation, subtitling services from an audio translation app is a much faster and cheaper option. How it works is that the software uses AI to transcribe your video or generate text from the dialog. It then uses a built-in translation engine to convert that transcript into another language. 

This may seem like a time-consuming and expensive process, it’s quite the opposite. Here’s how you can quickly and accurately translate your video content into 39 different languages using Sonix: 

  1. The first step is to upload the file into Sonix by clicking on the “Upload” button. The platforms support most major video file formats, so you’re covered here.
  1. Next, input your video file’s details, such as the file’s name and the target folder. One important setting here is the video language. Make sure to set it to the native language spoken in the video and not the foreign language you want to target.
  1. Once all details are in, click “Start Transcribing Now,” and Sonix will automatically create a transcription of your video. This is a text output of the dialog, which is stitched to the audio. Transcribing usually takes around five minutes or less for a one-hour video.
  1. After it’s done transcribing, you should already have a transcript of your video. We recommend checking for minor errors or misspellings and editing as needed. You can also assign speakers to each part of the transcript.
  1. When you’re happy with the transcript, it’s time to create the subtitles. You can do this by clicking on the Subtitle menu, then choosing Split Transcript. This automatically creates subtitles for you. You can adjust settings here, such as the number of lines and duration of each subtitle.
  1. You might need to adjust the timing of your subtitle. You can do this by checking the Subtitle timeline at the bottom of the screen and dragging subtitles as needed. You can also enter exact timecodes if you wish.
  1. Once your subtitle is aligned and polished, it’s time to translate it into another language. Do this by clicking on the Translations menu, then clicking on “Translate to a New Language.” Pick the destination language, and Sonix will translate it automatically.

Optionally, you can have someone verify if the translations are correct. To aid in this, you can easily toggle between the original and translation language by clicking on the globe icon at the right of the screen.

And that’s it — you’re ready to output your foreign subtitles! You have two choices here:

  • The first option is to burn in your subtitle as part of the video file itself. To accomplish this, select the Subtitle menu, then click “Burn-in.” You can view this video by clicking on the Subtitle menu again and choosing “Exported Video.”
  • The second option is to export the subtitle as a text file, which is useful if you want to give viewers the option to turn it on or off. Plus, this allows you to create various subtitle files in multiple languages.

To export, select the Export button on the top right corner of the screen. You can choose from a variety of formats. However, for subtitles, you’ll mostly go with the SubRip subtitle file (SRT) or WebVTT file (VTT).

You can also translate SRT file data into another language with the Sonix tool. Simply open the video you want, click on the “Timecodes” menu, then select “Import SRT file or existing transcript.”

This is a useful option if you already have an existing SRT, translate that into another language, then output it again. In effect, this turns Sonix into a standalone translation tool.

Create Foreign Language Subtitles in Minutes with Sonix

If you’re ready to share your video content with more of the world, partner with Sonix today. Once you get started, you’ll quickly learn that Sonix is more than just a foreign language subtitle tool. Our fast, easy and accurate transcription software transcribes audio and video files in minutes. We make it simple to quickly add subtitles to videos in over 39 languages. 

The best part is you can try out Sonix with a free trial. Take it on a test drive to see how easy it is to transcribe and translate your videos!

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