The occasional subtitle error may be amusing, but a whole show or movie riddled with errors is frustrating for all kinds of viewers. Netflix in particular has been criticized in the past for not paying attention to the quality of their subtitles.
Complaints about Netflix and similar services highlight the importance of using a professional subtitling company that knows how to proofread. Luckily, this is an easy solution to a big problem.
Common Subtitle Issues
Proper subtitling services should make a film easier to understand, but a lack of proofreading can result in the opposite effect. It’s similar to being invested in a good book and then stumbling over a typo — it just pulls people out of the experience. It’s arguably even more important to proofread subtitles, since it’s more difficult for viewers to reread a confusing sentence.
One of the simplest types of subtitle issues is the presence of grammatical and spelling errors. Of course, the solution to this subtitle issue is simply proofreading the content that appears on the screen.
Another unfortunate issue is subtitles which are hard to read, or block important content on the screen. Surprisingly, you can find films on Netflix where the phrase [Foreign language] has been inserted over previously-existing subtitles, making the text impossible to read.
Netflix viewers have also complained that the subtitles are unnecessarily censoring coarse language. Not only are these subtitles technically incorrect, they also cheapen the experience for the viewer. If the language is not censored in the audio, subtitles should not be censored either.
However, the most worrisome subtitle issue is inaccuracy in the content. Missing words or phrases can completely ruin a film or television show for any viewer. Having professional proofreaders go over all of the subtitles is an easy way to get rid of inaccuracies.
Effects of Subtitle Issues
Viewers who are deaf, hard of hearing, language learners, trying to respect a sleeping roommate or using subtitles for any other reason, deserve to have a high-quality viewing experience. They should be able to understand the shows and movies they watch just as easily as those who aren’t using subtitles.
Common subtitle issues like the ones described above can confuse viewers. But that’s not the only problem. Failure to fix these issues can send the message that viewers who use subtitles are not valued members of the audience, which can be downright insulting.
If you’re going to take the time to subtitle your videos — be it for marketing materials, entertainment or otherwise — it pays to make sure you’re using a professional subtitling service. Not doing so could alienate your viewers, and you may lose a lot of loyal customers in the long run.