Broadcast Asia 2011: Reduced subtitling cost makes it economically viable for greater range of content

MUMBAI: Subtitling provides a number of advantages that make it a highly attractive solution for reaching the greatest number of viewers. The reduced cost of subtitling, when compared with dubbing, makes it more economically viable for a greater range of content.

Equally it is easier and more practical to offer captions and subtitles utilising efficient workflows, especially for content that is live-to-air or has completed production very close to time-of-air.

These remarks were made by Softel chief sales officer Gordon Hunter who made a presentation on Captioning For Next Generation Broadcasting at the BroadcastAsia 2011 International Conference.

He noted that depending on the format of subtitling used, it is possible for multiple languages of translation to be delivered to the viewer, and for the viewer to choose their preferred language via their remote. In formats such as WST Teletext and DVB, it is also possible to switch on and off subtitles via the remote control.

"So as well as the necessity to comply with legislation in the target international location, subtitles provide an inexpensive way to open up content to the wider local and international audiences through language translation. Subtitles also provide a rich source of content relevant metadata for the video asset. Enhancing the asset with this additional data aids repurposing, as well as enabling detailed searching and indexing of the content. With integration into centralised media asset management systems, content can also be more
easily monetised through clip resell, redistribution and syndication," Hunter said.

He cautioned that subtitling can be a slow, labor-intensive process if done with outmoded methods. The key to using subtitling extensively and effectively, according to him, is an efficient workflow that allows broadcasters to shorten the creation and playout cycle and keep costs at a manageable level.
The subtitling component needs to be closely integrated into the broadcasters‘ overall solution and, ideally, considered during the initial design of a system. With a goal of reaching the widest possible audience across multiple platforms, requiring support for a multitude of output video formats, the broadcasters focus is shifting away from the traditional production systems and transmission chain, towards Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS). 
Compressed production cycles, requirements for easier global distribution, introduction of high definition services and falling
storage costs are driving a shift to file-based or tapeless workflows. As broadcasters, networks, and content originators switch to file-based operations, the traditional subtitling workflow has ceased to be a viable way of handling the growing requirement, especially as much content is now delivered across multiple platforms and in multiple formats.

The modern subtitling workflow is extremely streamlined but there remain several important steps to getting them to the viewer, beginning with the creation process and then either tape-based re-mastering, ingesting to video server or time-of-air transmission, said Hunter.

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