Best practices on video captioning/subtitling

hi there
I am becoming really interested in subtitle design/ composition I most of the time struggle to read captions quickly and easy. I think that Arial or Helvetica actually don't make captions very readable.

has anyone ever came across to good caption formating or can share tips on which typeface and settings are the best ones to consider for such a medium? E.g: type size; spacing; how many words per lines; how many lines should be displayed for better reading; typeface vs background color; TV vs phone vs computer screen...

would be great to get some tips and recommendations fronm the amazing and skilled community.

looking forward for an interesting discussion.

best 
Fabio

  

Comments

  • joeclarkjoeclark Posts: 101

    Do keep in mind that captoning and subtitling are two separate things.

    Screenfont.CA describes what little research has been done, but I see now it is misconfigured in some way. I’ll have to fix that.

    I appreciate your intent to do things well, but it is almost a hopeless cause. I will nonetheless answer any and all specific questions, so let ’er rip.

  • joeclark said:

    Do keep in mind that captoning and subtitling are two separate things.

    Screenfont.CA describes what little research has been done, but I see now it is misconfigured in some way. I’ll have to fix that.

    I appreciate your intent to do things well, but it is almost a hopeless cause. I will nonetheless answer any and all specific questions, so let ’er rip.

    Let's say that the system I am creating I have total control over the fonts I choose for subtitling/captioning. So the idea would be using a typeface that is very readable across multiple devices (web, iOS, Android, and TV)

    I would love to understand what is the difference between subtitling and captioning. Please refer me to a nice resource where I can learn more.  
  •  Ray that's such an insightful answer. Thank you for that.
    The only problem I see using a custom font is system compatibilities. Sometimes certain fonts don't render in native apps.

    Aside from that, your insights were exactly what I was looking for! 
    Is this research all made by you or you learned it via other resources? would be great if you could share more on this topic
  • joeclarkjoeclark Posts: 101
    I've designed a typeface based on FCC closed caption specifications.
    That’s like reconstructing a human face from a driver’s-licence photograph. Ray’s contribution can be disregarded, I think.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 604
    I'm not sure what the difference between captions and subtitles is. I've never looked into that. I'd also like to know.
    Is this research all made by you or you learned it via other resources?
    It was my own research and I didn't have a budget to work with. I got some feedback from my agent and from television manufacturers but mostly for technical aspects. A lot of the design is counter-intuitive because we're all used to working black on white. If you're trying to make existing fonts work for captions, trust what you see on screen. Alter the spacing, try scaling wider or narrower, turn down the white and keep it a little fuzzy.
  • yanoneyanone Posts: 59
    edited April 17
    I am becoming really interested in subtitle design/ composition I most of the time struggle to read captions quickly and easy. I think that Arial or Helvetica actually don't make captions very readable.
    has anyone ever came across to good caption formating or can share tips on which typeface and settings are the best ones to consider for such a medium? E.g: type size; spacing; how many words per lines; how many lines should be displayed for better reading; typeface vs background color; TV vs phone vs computer screen...
    I’ve done some subtitling. Two lines are very cumbersome to read especially for fast talking. Also very short subtitles (very fast switching) is difficult to follow. So you need to find a balance. Best to follow are longish, one-line subtitles.

    Personally, I set my VLC to Underware’s Dolly for viewing films with subtitles. Serifs will always work better than Sans Serifs for fast reading (IMO). The soft appearance of Dolly works well for me for this task. For color, I think that white with a shadow (and maybe small outline) are established and it works well.



  • joeclarkjoeclark Posts: 101
    edited April 20

    I fixed the DNS on Screenfont.CA, and it now works again.

    Two of my responses in this thread have “mysteriously” disappeared. I am the last remaining lifer in the captioning business and am the only actual expert on caption and subtitle typography. But if what I write here is going to get deleted behind my back, Fabio will have to mail me directly.

    Upon closer inspection, I see these two issuances from Ray:

    • I’ve designed a typeface based on FCC closed caption specifications.

      That’s like reconstructing a human face from a driver’s-licence photograph. Ray’s contribution can be disregarded, I think.

    • I’m not sure what the difference between captions and subtitles is. I’ve never looked into that. I’d also like to know.

    In other words, Ray Larabie designed a captioning font from a specification book and without being able to differentiate captions and subtitles. Yet my responses are getting voted down.

    Do you want my help or not?

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