A wise man once told me, “Subtitles are boring and annoying.” And he was right.
Don’t get me wrong, subtitles have their place and, of course, I fully understand that subtitles are an essential part of the lives of many people, not least the deaf and hard of hearing community. However, I am talking about those subtitles which are the sole source of information, or the foreign language translation on corporate promo videos, or company training videos – the subtitles that explain what you have to do, or what you mustn’t do, or what the company produces, or the history of the company…
Picture the scene: a beautifully smooth drone shot (it’s always a drone shot) coming in high through the luscious green countryside bathed in sunlight, gliding graciously over trees and meadows towards a giant, steel-clad two-storey monolith of a building surrounded by a hive of activity: tiny people milling about and tiny fork-lift trucks carrying tiny pallets of even teeny-tinier boxes of something-or-other offloaded from tiny lorries.
The drone swoops in low and we dive deftly into the state-of-the-art facility to marvel at the panorama of racking and machines as we are told something of the history of the business - founded in nineteen-ninety-something by Mr Whatsisname and the biggest producer of that-industrial-thing in the country, Industrial Company Ltd now has a hundred-and-something employees and exports to the whole of Europe, as well as the rest of the world. You know the story.
Except you missed most of it because you were watching the cool shots of the factory and the awesome machines which manufacture that-industrial-thing in astonishing numbers (expertly shot by talented drone pilots INSIDE the building!). And all that information was contained in subtitles. And you didn’t read most of the subtitles, did you? No, you didn’t. Why not? Because reading subtitles is boring – and not half as appealing as the cool sequences expertly shot by talented drone pilots INSIDE the building!
But guess what…?
If all of that fascinating information had been audio instead of subtitles, you would have heard all of it. All of it! All of it read by a knowledgeable, authoritative voice in such a way that it seized your attention; the words felt exciting and new, the voice drew you in; it was captivating and conveyed amazing insights into the enchanting history of Industrial Company Ltd and the wonderful world of that-industrial-thing manufacture.
You see, when a person is watching images on a screen, whether it’s a simple photo montage or a professionally produced video, that person is busy watching images on the screen. They don’t want to be distracted from those images by annoying subtitles constantly catching their eye. But an engaging voice has the ability to impart the exact same information effortlessly and flawlessly without distracting the viewer from the cool sequences expertly shot by talented drone pilots INSIDE the building!
Graphics are designed to grab your attention and feed you important facts and figures as succinctly as possible without the distraction of cool drone shots.
As a wise man once told me...
Subtitles are boring and annoying.