Subtitling Media Pilot Project

What we found

We identified a number of key findings relating to student employment, the art of subtitling and digital skills development.

The Subtitling for Media pilot identified a number of key findings as follows:

  • The project was able to recruit motivated and competent students, and the work pattern complemented study commitments 
  • Students valued the work, which they found to be meaningful and purposeful, and were able to produce high quality subtitles for varied media 
  • Students gained valuable experience in a positive and dynamic working environment 
  • Subtitling requires an investment of time, particularly if the media contains strong accents, scientific or technical content, or inconsistent sound quality 
  • The quality of automated subtitles continues to improve with advances in speech-to-text technology enabled by the availability of large data sets 
  • Staff welcomed the opportunity to attend training to improve their own subtitling capability 


Attracting the right student workers

The pilot demonstrated that grade UoE3 attracted high quality candidates, and student Subtitling Editor posts should be advertised at this grade for a future service.

Flexible working, working space and support 

It is important to offer flexibility in scheduling student workers to enable them to work around study commitments. This requires a modest weekly management overhead.  Regular team meetings should be scheduled to sustain student buy-in and enable creative problem solving.  Dedicated desk space is important for providing a supportive work culture.

Tools of the trade 

Subtitling Editors should be supplied with mid-range (~£60) noise-cancelling headphones.  They were allowed to keep these at the end of their contract at Edinburgh as a thank you.  Dual monitors are required for efficient subtitling editing.

What the students thought

Three of our student subtitlers wrote blogs for the Student Employee blog site, talking about their experiences.

Meet the media subtitling team - blog post

Hot chocolate, hugs and great expectations - blog post

Subtitles for the many, not the few - blog post

We also interviewed the students about their experiences and made a short video.

The Student Media Subtitlers - watch the video on Media Hopper (7 minutes 39 seconds)