Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Subtitling And Dubbing Your Internet Video - Part One: Subtitling Video Guide

Sponsored Links

By subtitling or dubbing your Internet video output you expand its reach. This is a great way of adding value to your video, whether from an accessibility perspective, from the desire to reach an audience outside of your own first language, or even to add 'liner notes' to your content.

There was a time when this kind of feat would set you back considerable money, and require professional equipment beyond the reach of your average independent online publisher. Those days are over, and it is now possible to make use of free online and desktop tools to create subtitled or dubbed video content without spending a cent.


The growth of the blog network in recent times has meant that independent web publishers very often produce content on an international scale. While English would certainly seem to have the greatest reach in terms of gathering a large audience, the benefits of having alternate language versions of your content are fast becoming evident.

Here at Master New Media, you can access the same content in English, Spanish or Italian, with Portuguese and Russian versions in the works. This is far from the exception to the rule - with websites such as Endgadget offering Spanish, Chinese and Japanese versions of their popular gadget blog. With the increasing shift towards Internet video content, that makes a whole lot of video that needs recontextualizing for different audiences.

Even beyond the creation of international versions of your website, very often great video content appears online in another language, and you just happen to know someone that speaks that language that could help you out with a translation. This is a great way of breaking that content to a whole new audience.

So how do you do it? What are the free, easy to use tools out there that make subtitling and dubbing internet video a piece of cake? In part one of this video guide, I talk you through the subtitling process. Part two features everything you need to know about dubbing audio for video.

Part one: Subtitling

The following tools can easily be used to annotate your online videos with notes, and this is primarily what they were designed for. However, with a little bit of effort they can easily be put to use as subtitling tools for Internet video content. Whether you are adding subtitles to your own work, or enhancing pre-existing video content, these simple, free online applications make the process a lot less painful than it should be.

They are not going to magically write subtitles for you, and the act of subtitling is never going to be the quickest task you ever sit down to, but it is nevertheless a great way of expanding the horizons of your video content. I have intentionally left out a vast range of video annotation tools, and instead focused on two applications that specifically feature subtitling as an option.



BubblePLY is the first of two tools that make the job of subtitling Internet video quick and painless. When you arrive at the BubblePLY front page, you are asked for the URL of an Internet hosted video. This could be content from YouTube, Google video or any other video hosting site.


This content is quickly loaded into the BubblePLY editor, and you are then ready to add your subtitles. This is a simple matter of clicking on an 'add bubble' button at the appropriate part of the video, selecting the subtitle option, and adding your text.

When you're done, you are given an embed code for the new subtitle-enhanced video, and can now share this video with your site visitors or friends.

BubblePLY's interface is chunky and very easy to navigate, with a host of options available from a nested menu system. One useful feature that is included is the ability to overlay a grid over the video, which proves very useful when aligning and placing text and images into the video.


When you decide to add your additional content to the video, the default is a speech bubble, but it is very simple to select from a range of options - subtitles, thought bubbles, commentary boxes, or uploaded images. For the purposes of subtitling, the obvious choice is the subtitle feature, which produces well-sized, clear text with a a white fill and thin black bounding line. This makes for readable text under most circumstances.

Unfortunately, while the other features allow for formatting, resizing and colour selection of your text, subtitles are fixed in their default position and size which removes a certain degree of flexibility and user-control.

Thankfully, the duration of the text can be set using start and end points, and also by setting a duration, which feels like an intuitive option. This makes timing your subtitles perfectly to the words on the soundtrack a very simple prospect.

As subtitles are added, they are marked on the time line, and it is possible to skip from one to the next using back and forward buttons, like those used to skip from chapter to chapter on a DVD player.

In short, then, BubblePLY creates highly readable subtitles that are easy to time precisely to the original video content, and then gives you a simple embed code that you can use to share the final subtitled work.



Mojiti is very similar in terms of its basic function, and also makes for a quick way to get stuck into the world of Internet video subtitling. There are certain features, however, that give it a slight edge over BubblePLY for those looking to use it for subtitling.

Like BubblePLY Mojiti gives you the option of adding straight text, subtitles, speech bubbles, thought bubbles and imported images, and it adds to this list shapes and simple flash animations. Also, in similar fashion to BubblePLY, Mojiti lets you set the start and end points of your captions, so that you can time them precisely to your source video. It doesn't have a duration setting, however, which would make for a nice addition.


What sets it apart from BubblePLY is its greater depth of features.

Of special interest to those working with subtitles is the ability to import both SubRip .srt files and SubViewer .sub files, both of which are standard in the subtitling world, and basically allow you to quickly add any pre-existing subtitle files, or those you have managed to download from the Internet. This is a great feature that will appeal to those with previous experience of subtitling.


Furthermore, using Mojiti, text can be formatted to change the colour of both the fill and outline, opacity and line size, giving a lot of options as to how your background, lines and fonts look. This is particularly useful in those projects where there is a lot of white in the source video, such as snowboarding clips, where the standard white subtitles are perhaps better swapped out for those of a different, high contrast colour.

There is also greater flexibility in layout, given that text can be positioned anywhere, and the bounding box can be resized to suit your needs. Text size can also be changed, which is very useful for getting decent sized subtitles.

Finally, I found that navigation via Mojiti's 'spot organizer' makes it very simple to jump to specific captions and edit them. This works particularly well because each caption's text is displayed, so that you know exactly which caption you are jumping to when you click through to that particular part of the video.


Overall, then, while the two services are very similar in both form and function, Mojiti does go the extra mile in terms of the features it offers, and as such is the tool I would prefer to use in my own subtitling work.

Video demo

In the following short video, I take a look at the process of adding subtitles to your Internet video, using both BubblePLY and Mojiti.

Music credit: cdk - Nebula Dub (cdk jazz mix)


Both of these well featured tools make the process of adding subtitles to Internet video a simple and intuitive one. The features that set them apart are minor ones, and for the purposes of someone using them purely as subtitling tools, it is very hard to distinguish between the two.

Both Mojiti and BubblePLY will allow you take any video that has been published to the Internet - whether it is yours or someone else's - and add your subtitles to it, before embedding the new version into your website. This makes them valuable free resources for anyone looking to subtitle Internet video for accessibility or foreign language purposes.

When it comes down to the crunch, Mojiti is slightly better suited to the task of subtitling for two reasons:

  1. It allows you to change the colour, size and position of your subtitles, whereas BubblePLY has only a single preset
  2. The 'spot organizer' makes for a very useful way to navigate between the captions you have created given that you can read them before clicking through to the appropriate part of the video

This is in no way to disparage the capabilities of BubblePLY, which is perfectly capable of doing the job, but given that the two are very similar it is necessary to focus on these smaller details that make the difference in the subtitling process.

In short, either will make the task of subtitling your Internet video content a simple and painless one, and it is to both of their credit that this is now a task that can be undertaken entirely online.

In part two of this video guide, I will take you through the process of dubbing Internet video. Subtitling is a great way to maintain the original feel of a video, while extending its reach, but there are times when re-recording sound is more appropriate. I'll show you exactly how you can go about doing that, without having to pay for the privilege.

Additional resources

While Mojiti and BubblePLY offer the option to both annotate and subtitle your video, there are a good many other services that offer the ability to annotate (rather than subtitle) your Internet video. These include:

Readers' Comments    
2007-04-04 16:10:42

Michael Pick

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your feedback. Sorry if you felt misled by the title - this is part one of a two part guide, and as such only deals with (sub)titling your video. The second part, which might be of interest, is all about dubbing your online video and can be found here:

Hope that helps.

2007-02-24 12:55:56


wrong title: titling is not 'dubbing' it is titling or title dubbing. This stuff does not dub videos at all and is misleading... looks good for what it does.

2007-02-06 09:05:19

Media Movers

Online subtitling will be the key to the growth of online video distribution segment.The focus should be on compatibility for multilingual solutions.

Lawrence Vishnu
Media Movers, Inc.

posted by Michael Pick on Tuesday, February 6 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics