All about fonts for captions and subtitles
Screenfont.CA is an activity of the Open & Closed Project. We are researching and developing a set of standards for captioning, audio description, subtitling, and dubbing.
Screenfonts are important because, in captioning and subtitling, our instrument is typography.
Old report for Ascender & Microsoft on screenfonts for captioning · Captioning Sucks! launches · Caption size on iPods and online video · HDTV · Tiresias Screenfont (and why it’s terrible) · Reusing Web screenfonts · Fonts to use in the meantime
Why are screenfonts important?
With captions and subtitles, we’re creating visible words that we expect people to read and understand almost instantaneously before the words disappear. Font quality becomes – and already is – an issue. It may surprise you to learn that there are no screenfonts in existence that:
- provide a wide enough range of styles and variations to be useful in real-world captioning and subtitling applications (believe it or not, a single sansserif will not work for everything)
- are specifically designed to be read from screens within the constraints of captions and subtitles (like scrolling, crawling, appearing and disappearing, all while typeset against unpredictable backgrounds)
- are customized, where necessary, for specific technologies (e.g., analogue television, HDTV, computers, offscreen displays)
- and, most importantly, have been tested with nondisabled, deaf/hard-of-hearing, and visually-impaired subjects
We’ll be commissioning and designing our own screenfonts (we’ve already begun), testing them to prove they work, and selling them. We want you to learn more – and we invite your participation.