Earlier this year, a new and exciting product was launched: the subtitle editing program titlebee by the UK based company of the same name. Here is a brief description of the new product, and we expect to follow up later with a full review.
What is a subtitle editor?
Anyone producing video or TV of any kind or any scale that will be viewed by audiences who do not understand the language spoken will need to either create separate soundtracks for a number of different editions of the production, or they will add subtitles. Additionally, subtitles are used for various texting purposes, like when a person speaks a different language from the main language used (or the enemy soldiers talking to each other in the war movie), when you want to produce a karaoke video, or when support for the hearing impaired is needed.
The subtitle editor is in its essence a program that allows for adding the needed subtitles at all the right places in the video – taking into account how the text should follow the speech and stay synchronous with it.
Who needs such a program?
As mentioned, anyone producing video or TV… but there are usually many job designations involved in such productions. If you create a small video on your own for uploading to YouTube or similar, you may wish to add subtitles and thereby reach a larger audience. If you are creating course videos for bio-analysts, you may wish to text the chemical formulas and other information to remember along the way, allowing your students to get the maximum benefit from the course.
But the major part of the users for an advanced, dedicated subtitle editor like titlebee will be professionals in the video and TV production industry, having titles like Translator, Subtitler, Transcriber, etc., and they may work for movie production companies, advertising agencies, dedicated post-production agencies, or similar, or as subcontractors or freelancers for those, or they may be working with a TV network or other content provider or distributor.
In fact, there are quite many different groups of people, both hobbyists, academics, and professional video people, who should be interested in this product.
What makes titlebee special?
First of all, there are a few major vendors in this area, and they usually charge higher prices. So titlebee is a reasonably priced alternative. But it also has some unusual but very much wanted features:
- It offers just-in-time editing, meaning that you can add titles while the video is running or when it is stopped, as you please. No need to start over the replay of the video. You can even change the speed of the video, with speech repeated as necessary, to allow for setting the optimal workflow – and the fastest processing time.
- It also offers to edit multiple subtitle tracks side-by-side, which will help you ensure a consistent and high quality output.
- You can edit by timeline, with the sound presented visually as a waveform – this allows you to work more intuitively and thereby be more precise and effective.
- Projects can have bookmarks added, making it easy for you to split the work into packages or making a note on places to get back to for further processing.
It has a number of productivity and quality improving features and in general a user-friendly interface that lets you focus on getting the work done – fast and correct. This interface works in any language, which makes sense when considering that the users are often people who natively speaks one of the languages to translate between.
And it offers a lot of technical features that will allow for things like hardsubbing (rendering the subtitles directly into the video), overlays (separate subtitle files to be used with an NLE – non-linear editing system, i.e. a video editor), import from and export to various popular formats, and a built-in cloud backup mechanism that securely makes a backup copy, which can then be accessed through a web browser from anywhere – and thereby eliminating the need for and the risks connected with sending the work through mail or by email.
How to use it
Titlebee has made a very instructive video on how to use the program:
Titlebee is a program that you will download and install on your Windows PC. It will, of course, also work in a virtual Windows machine on a Mac – Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are great programs for this purpose (you will also need a Windows license). The download size is not as huge as sometimes seen with video software, so it is a quite smooth and quick process to get and install the product. Before using it, you need to register it, which requires you to wait for an email to verify your account. If it suits you better, you can instead create an account first and then download and install the software. And then you are ready to go!
A quick test revealed that Windows 10 as well as my antivirus program complained about the installation package being “unknown software”, which in this case should just be ignored.
Many video editors have built-in subtitling features, but these are usually at a very basic level and not meant for professional work. They will allow you to add the texts to your projects, one language only, and that’s it. They are rarely having any of the features described above. But for a hobbyist who just occasionally need to add a small amount of subtitles, they may be sufficient. For a hobbyist, it is often not of major importance how efficient the work can be done and how compatible the result will be with other systems, but for those who spend a larger part of their day on subtitling, efficiency and quality may make the difference between success and failure.
A number of other high-end products exist, and we will work on getting an overview of these, but the few we have looked at so far seem to be much more expensive, have some of the same import/export features but not the same level of usability and productivity. If possible, we will take in some of them for review at a later time.
Edition and prices
Software like this is often sold at prices in the thousands. But titlebee has chosen a much more affordable way – they give it away for free! At least, you can get a Bronze edition for free that will let you work through three projects, complete with email support along the way, and it will not cost you anything more than a mandatory registration with name and email address.
- Silver – An economical package, allowing for a total of 24 projects: 360 €.
- Gold – A popular choice and suitable for most professionals, allowing for an unlimited number of projects: 630 €.
- Platinum – Unlimited projects and lifetime upgrades, topped up with live chat support: 1.080 €.
All prices mentioned are in Euro and include 25% VAT, but you can choose a different currency, and your local VAT rate will apply, when relevant.
These prices should make the product accessible for anyone who needs it – and a very interesting option for those who today use other similar software.
Well, the final conclusion must wait until we have had a chance to review the product, but so far it looks very promising. In the mean time, you can easily make you own test by simply getting a Bronze edition for free and start using it. It is that simple!