The good subtitle

A good subtitle isn't just a matter of translate, copy, paste, render...

Every time I have to call the director, the producer and the editor, and try to tell them how to improve things... well, I'd better publish this stuff and see if I can contribute to improve it before they are done and need to be redone

The question is to minimize the noise and let the characters "flow" smoothly as they can.


Usually, subtitles are done in FCP and then extracted to use inside DVDs, Youtubes and similar...

To extract subtitles you can use tools as TitleExchange or AnnotationEdit

Or you can do it directly in AnnotationEdit or in Subtitle Workshop (windows)


Don't let the editor do a simple copy/paste of the material sent by the translator...

Once done in FinalCut, extract them and convert to a DVD format (subrip *.srt or open format *.srt archives)

Give it back to the translator a copy of the subtitled video and a printed copy (or digital) of the SRT/STL
(the print copy depends on the editor, whatever he feels confortable with)

SRT and STL are plain text formats, to deliver it to the translator it's better to copy and paste inside a normal document format (word, googledoc, openoffice)

Surely, the translator will be able to simplify, adjust lines, and other good observations

  • avoid redundancy, instead of "John, John, come here" use simply "John, come here"
  • try to make full line phrases, instead of "I've done the/work this morning" use "I've done the work/this morning"
  • shorten sentences whenever possible, instead of "he will then become" use "he becomes"


  • maximum of 2 lines per subtitle screen
  • maximum of 38 characters per line (depends a bit in the final exhibition font size)
  • minimum of 2 seconds per screen (depends a bit on the quantity of text, if it's something like "What's up?" there's no problem if it has 20 frames)
  • instead of a 10 second subtitle, make two of 5 seconds
  • instead of two 1.5 second subtitles, make one of 3 seconds
  • if possible, try to make the in and out points of a subtitle to match a scene change
  • even if desirable, sometimes the subtitle must begin before the speech and/or end afterwards
  • don't leave micro-spaces (less than 20 frames) between subtitles - this is a bit subjective, but I believe you can see it clearly when there's some hole making noise in the screen


  1. alex wrote:


  2. Ivan Abreu wrote:

    Muito bom, tovarish! Valeu demais.