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What Are Forced Subtitles?


Sep 16, 2022

What Are Forced Subtitles

RevBlogSubtitlesWhat Are Forced Subtitles?

Forced subtitles are a type of burned-in-text used to provide clarification on the plot or details of a video. Also known as forced narrative subtitles or forced captions,  they provide the viewer with further information such as a translation of speech or signs or explanations regarding symbols, flags, slang words, texted graphics, etc. 

In essence, we can think of the forced subtitles as the viewer’s assistant, offering them hints about the subtext of the production or clarifying what is going on on-screen.

When are Forced Subtitles Used?

There are a few instances in which forced narrative subtitles are typically used. 

The most common of these involves segments spoken in a foreign language. In these cases, the forced subtitles provide a translation of any speech that is not in the video’s main language (e.g. a French character speaking French in an English movie), enabling the audience to understand what is being said even if they don’t speak the language. The same technique is used when characters speak fictional languages, like in fantasy movies. Forced subtitles also often appear in a movie or video when visuals like the name of a location, a road sign, a poster or newspaper headline needs to be translated. 

Alongside translating the text on visuals, forced subtitles can give more details about certain visuals on-screen, such as expanding on details when IDs or other labels are shown, or providing explanations of characters of settings that are not conveyed through dialogue. 

Forced subtitles and captions are also used to help explain communication that may not be understood by most viewers, such as sign language or morse code. 

The final main use of forced subtitles is when the dialogue is inaudible or muffled, making it hard to understand even if it is in the production’s main language. They then help viewers grasp what is going on by clarifying the words that are being spoken. 

How to Create Forced Subtitles

Forced subtitle are generated in a similar way to captions and other subtitles.

If you’re creating forced subtitles for transitioning segments of your video, Rev offers a service through which quality foreign subtitles can be provided by taking an English source video and creating captions in another language. The subtitles are swiftly delivered, with at least a 99% accuracy rate, and can be easily downloaded and added into the video, in the form of SRT files. Rev also has an option for burned-in captions or open captions, ideal for creating forced captions. 

Things to Remember About Forced Subtitles

Because their goal is to provide clarity, there are a few rules you should follow when creating forced subtitles

Forced subtitles should be:

  • Written in All Caps and should match the font and size of the text of any other subtitles used in the production. 
  • Made clear to be separate from any dialogue if other subtitles are being used. Both should not be included in the same subtitle. 
  • Written in italic font if used for non-translated words e.g. Déjà vu
  • Positioned relative to what’s already on screen, such as when an object obscures where subtitles are usually shown. The ultimate goal is for all the information to be readable

Forced narrative subtitles are an integral part of the modern viewing experience, allowing a viewer to completely understand and enjoy video content. They provide an additional layer of information that helps all users remain connected with the plot of the production, even when things are not explained through dialogue or if characters are speaking in a foreign language.

By using forced subtitles, you can ensure that a wide audience is able to engage with your video content. 

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