AI Vs Humans for the Art of Subtitling

Subtitling is a very old phenomenon popularized in the early 20th century for the deaf and for more clarity. Subtitling is a delicate type of task that involves carefully translating and transcribing spoken dialogues into written text. Now this can be for the same language or for different languages.. Moreover, subtitling services ensure that the text is accurate, culturally appropriate, has the right context, and has some form of creativity. 

With the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the debate between using AI or human professionals for subtitling has gained significant traction. While AI brings automation and speed to the process, human experience brings understanding and creative adaptability. In this blog, we will dive into the strengths and limitations of both AI and human subtitlers to understand which approach holds the upper hand in the world of subtitling.

AI for Subtitling 

Artificial intelligence has its roots deep in many industries and subtitling is no exception. AI-powered tools can transcribe speech, convert it into text, and even translate it into multiple languages with impressive speed. Some people might sometimes prefer AI over a translation agency for their entire project. In my opinion, it may not be the best option, but we will dwell on that later.

Some key advantages AI brings to subtitling:

AI can process large volumes of content quickly, saving time and resources compared to manual subtitling. For projects with extensive subtitling requirements, AI can efficiently handle high volumes of content without fatigue. But there is no promise that the document will be error-free. AI can offer immediate translations, making it easier to reach global audiences with multilingual subtitles. Automating the subtitling process using AI can reduce the costs associated with hiring a translation agency. AI ensures uniformity in terminology and formatting, minimizing inconsistencies that can arise with multiple human subtitlers.

AI extensions in many devices can help those with hearing disabilities get subtitles at will in quick time. However, again the accuracy can be at times questionable, especially if there is a language change involved. 

Here is where you need to be careful with AI subtitling

The accuracy of subtitles might be affected by the background noises in the video. It may lead to nonsense being displayed rather than what is required. More than often translation is a part of creating subtitles and in this case, the gist of dialogues is often lost. Certain references and wordings require censoring, and this can result in ridiculous choices of words. AI has no reference to multiple cultural preferences. Meaning that words that a translation agency would censor, remain uncensored.

Key Advantages Humans bring to the Table

Subtitling involves more than just translation; it requires cultural sensitivity, local context, and an understanding of idioms and humor. Something a translation agency would understand. Human subtitlers excel in capturing these nuances. Subtitling often requires creative solutions to convey the original message effectively. Humans can adapt phrases and idioms to resonate with the target audience. Technical content, slang, and jargon demand precision. Human subtitlers, offering subtitling services with their understanding of context, can provide accurate subtitles. Content like documentaries, scientific discussions, or philosophical dialogues may require contextual interpretation that only human experts can provide. Human subtitlers can accurately capture the emotional tone of dialogue, enhancing the viewer’s emotional connection to the content. Humans can review and refine AI-generated subtitles to ensure accuracy, context, and cultural appropriateness.

How can AI and Human Subtitle Artists Work Together?

Rather than framing the AI vs. human debate as an either-or scenario, many industry professionals advise for a hybrid approach. This involves leveraging the strengths of both AI and human subtitlers for optimal results.

AI can be used for initial transcription, saving time and effort, but human professionals should review and refine the text. While AI can offer translations, human subtitling services providers can ensure cultural and linguistic accuracy, especially for idiomatic expressions. Human subtitlers can fine-tune AI-generated subtitles to capture cultural nuances and ensure they resonate with the target audience. Humans can review and correct any inaccuracies or inappropriate translations that AI might produce.


In the battle of AI vs. humans for subtitling supremacy, it’s evident that each side has its strengths. AI brings automation, speed, and efficiency, making it suitable for projects with time constraints and high volume. On the other hand, human subtitlers possess the ability to navigate cultural complexities, creatively adapt content, and provide emotional context that enhances the viewer’s experience.

The ideal approach might not be a binary choice but rather a harmonious combination of both AI and human expertise. By harnessing the power of AI for initial transcription and translation and allowing human professionals to refine, adapt, and ensure quality, we can achieve a relationship that ultimately benefits both content creators and viewers. In the end, the answer to whether AI or humans are better for subtitling might not be a definitive one but rather a recognition that both play pivotal roles in this art.

By janylin

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