Subtitles vs Closed Captions vs SDH Subtitles: Which is best for you?



People commonly interchange the definitions of subtitles, SDH and closed captions, but there are some differences that distinguish them.

Subtitles, SDH, and closed subtitles have a common purpose, it’s supporting the audience to understand video content. However, there are some facts you may not know.

Discover the difference between subtitles, closed captions, and SDH by exploring this blog post right now.

What’s the difference between Subtitles, Closed captions (CC) and SDH captions?


They’re text translating the dialog or speeches in films, TV programs, video games, etc. Subtitles are usually shown at the bottom of the screen.

Subtitles vs Closed Captions vs SDH Subtitles: Which is best for you?

Subtitles help non-native speakers understand a film or video content

It can help to translate the original recording in languages that are not the audience’s mother tongue.

For example, a movie is made in English, but it’s presented in another country, in which Indian is the dominant language, so we use subtitles to help Indians understand that English movie..

However, because essential substitutes are appropriate for people who have no listening difficulties, so audio classification such as music, sound effects, or speaker classification is not incorporated.

Closed captions

They’re used to provide a written dialog and additional information on background noises, soundtracks, and other noises in the videos and movies.

Subtitles vs Closed Captions vs SDH Subtitles: Which is best for you?

Closed Captions (CC) provide additional information and written dialog as well

Closed subtitles are usually written in the video language. Netflix is an excellent example of closed captions.

Essentially, if subtitles are aimed at people who can hear the audio and still need a written form, closed captions, on the other hand, are intended for people who can’t hear the audio and need a text-sound description.

SDH subtitles

SDH subtitles combine both subtitles and closed captions. While subtitles are used for viewers who can hear the sound but don’t speak the video language, SDH assumes viewers can’t listen to the sound (like closed captions).

Subtitles vs Closed Captions vs SDH Subtitles: Which is best for you?

The deaf or people who have hearing problem tend to take advantage of SDH subtitles, mostly

In this case, SDH will emulate closed subtitles on media that don’t support closed captions, such as digital connections like HDMI.

SDH can also be translated into foreign languages to make content available to the audience who understands other languages.

SDH is the most thorough version of subtitles and captions, including nonverbal sounds contributing to the viewing experience.

FOR EXAMPLE, in SDH subtitles, ambient sonorities may be transcribed to help produce the video’s perspective.

Viewers who are deaf or challenging to hear can fully understand what is happening in the video when they turn on SDH subtitles.

To create a single subtitle file, SDH combines audio and language learning. The file is available to foreign-speaking viewers who are deaf or have hearing problems.

SDH Subtitles vs. Closed Captions

SDH subtitles are different for close captions in several ways. Closed captions are usually displayed with white text, while SDH is generally shown on the black strip with the same proportional font.

However, both subtitles and closed captions support user control options that allow viewers to change fonts, colors, and text sizes.

What are the benefits of SDH subtitles and Closed captions (CC)?

1. More people on social media will discover your video contents

According to Digiday, 85% of Facebook’s videos are watched with no-sound mode. In addition, to capture potential viewers’ attention, adding subtitles to your video will also enable them to get your take-home messages, even without audio.

Sometimes, specific circumstances prevent viewers from watching sound videos (for example, when they leave earphones home, when they travel by bus, when they attend an event, or when they’re in queue, etc.)

In this case, subtitles are valuable because they provide your audience with additional convenience.

2. Wider audience will get to know your creation

According to WHO, more than 400 million people around the world are deaf or partially hearing impaired. They can’t consume or have a hard time consuming audio content.

To help these groups, you’d better make subtitles videos not to exclude them from the world. Improving your content’s accessibility will improve your audience’s service.

3. SEO enhancement

Search engines like Google are unable to analyze non-subtitles videos, that’s why subtitles are pretty vital when you upload your creation on the Internet.

By adding a text transcript to your videos, your search engines can use much more data to attract traffic to your videos.

4. More foreign viewers will reach out to your videos

It’s easy to translate your transcript into other languages when it’s all prepared. Thanks to subtitles in multiple languages, your geographical scope will increase your content existence due to improved SEOs, etc.

5. Viewing experience improved

Sometimes, it’s not all required for those who accept SDH subtitles. Some viewers favor viewing videos with subtitles, even though they don’t have any hearing problems.

About 10% of UK TV viewers use subtitles every day, and many more use them now when they watch online videos and TV programs.

6. SDH subtitles help maintain the absorption and disabled people

People seem to understand and learn written content faster than spoken ones. SDH subtitles enable viewers to understand every content they view quickly. It can also better absorb and interpret data for those with learning difficulties.

7. Fewer restrictions on language

People who don’t speak English as their primary language can understand your video content, primarily if it’s promptly spoken or includes too technical words.

In general, SDH subtitles can be simply translated to other languages that allow foreign speakers to obtain your videos.

The operation of SDH Subtitles

It’s important to understand some regulations involved when you add SDH subtitles to your video content.

For instance, any promotional video, presentations, or commercials played at public places are legally required for subtitles by the American Disability Act (ADA).

In 2012, Netflix was defined as a public accommodation place under a lawsuit; therefore, it requested to submit captions.

Many other services now include subtitles and captions to follow the industry’s best practices and fulfill legal requirements.

A number of accessibility issues, including closed captions for content broadcasting on television, are covered in the Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) adopted in 2010.

Amendment No 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act addresses captions for certain types of electronic media, including educational media. Whereby, if a professor films or records a lecture at a public university, he should provide closed captions.

FCC Guidelines for Subtitles and Captions

In general, the FCC’s instructions for subtitles and captions include:

Accuracy: Even if your film, video is shortened for timing reasons, captions must accurately reflect dialogs, music and other audio-track sounds.

Synchronicity: Captions must match the audio track and video timestamps.

Program Fullness: Gaps or periods without captions must not exist.

Placement: Captions can’t cover anything that may interfere with video comprehensions, such as the actors’ expressions or context settings.

SDH Subtitles Formatting

The main difference between SDH subtitles and closed captions is that SDH subtitles look like translation subtitles on a DVD, while closed captions tend to appear on a black band as white text, which often blocks essential parts of a video or film.

Closed captions can be displayed everywhere and may not match precisely the video pacing.

However, SDH substrates are timed to match the video scenes and appear for easy reading in a single video area.

Moreover, HD formats like Blu-ray discs only use SDHs, since closed captions’s format is not supported.

In particular, subtitles can specify many colors and text functions on DVDs, such as shadows and outlines. This helps to better show various contexts of text without blocking the picture as much.

If all video speakers are shown on display, the SDH subtitles text needs fixing to identify the speaker more easily.

It’s important to add your video SDH subtitles

SDH subtitles are important not only because they assist the listeners. Detailed subtitles also have additional video advantages.

Subtitles are helpful to watchers’ understanding—especially those who don’t speak video language.

Some people may have cognitive difficulties in understanding the video content, so subtitles are another information source. SDH subtitles help those people gain the whole video experience.

Encode SDH Subtitles

When adding SDH substitutes to your video, you may need to understand specific technical details. SDH subtitles are encoded differently depending on the media length.

A video is distributed on a disk demands more than a video that is streamed

Unlike closed captions, SDH subtitles are often coded as bitmap pictures or a series of pixels.

More than 20 subtitle formats and the best format depend on where and how the video is available. Will it be burned to a DVD or streamed on Youtube?

Some formats don’t allow subtitle positioning or colors to be carried over from one platform to another.

SDH Subtitle Files

You have to begin with a transcription video content including music, background noises, speaker ID, and other audio signals.

You may start with the video script, create a whole new video transcript from scratch, and add other audio information. This text can be used in the correct format to make the SDH subtitle file.

For video content producers who need to add subtitles or captions, especially those who create content for different platforms, you may find this information quite confusing.

It’s important to know if you and your viewers are willing to take the most advantage of including your video content with SDH subtitles.

Start to apply SDH Subtitles

Let’s say you have never previously used SDH subtitles and you want to start. Should you use automatic subtitles such as the YouTube subtitles function or an online subtitles program?

These may be practical and cost-effective choices, but they don’t seem to provide the high-quality SDH subtitles that your video needs because:

  • Computers may not understand different accents or slang terms.
  • PCs won’t take other audio signals.
  • The computer-generated subtitles program can interfere with background noise, whispered dialog, speech speed, or low-quality audios.
  • Technical failures, like video freezing, can confuse automatic subtitles.
  • Automatic captioning may not be able to distinguish between background music and dialogue.

Report of Closed captions trends

In 2021, data from the SOC report on behaviors of video production and subtitling, social media subtitling, live video subtitling, and sub-entitlements for barriers and drivers were conducted.

According to the report:

87% of people are captioning their video.

When asked how much of their video content is subtitled, 87% of respondents said they subtitled all, most or some videos.

There was a 5% growth in this field compared to 2020, which shows that the captioning prioritization was slowly but steadily increasing.

65% of respondents expect captioning needs to increase in 2021.

20% of respondents said that their needs for captioning were substantially increased in 2021, 45% of respondents said that it increased moderately, and 31% of respondents said their needs remained the same as the previous year.

Captioning budgets appear to be rising to meet the high demand from audiences for closed subtitles.

Over 50% of respondents use captions for accessibility.

When asked what drove those people to caption, 56% of 2021 respondents said equal access and accessibility.

Other key factors include legal compliance (15%), boosted engagement and SEO (8%), and better learning outcomes (8%).

Specifically, with social media videos, 50% of respondents said they apply captions for their social media videos for accessibility.

This was followed by captions’ ability to boost engagement (19%) and to increase viewership (10%).

60% of respondents are using live captions.

Almost half of the people said they are producing up to 1,000 hours of live streaming video annually.

60% of respondents said they provide live captions, which is critical because live captions ensure more folks have access to live video content, such as live webinars, social media live streams and virtual conferences.

The sound, image of a movie or video are often the most important factors. However, to appeal to a wide range of potential viewers, the subtitles are what you should care about then.

Subtitles not only help people who are deaf or have hearing problems reach your product, but it also shows your interest and sympathy in the needs of your audience, which will definitely encourage people to embrace your creativity.

So, review this article again, and apply the best subtitles that meet your video needs.

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