The short answer is not always. But the real answer is: we highly suggest you do.
1a. For English Titles
If your title is in English, then subtitles are optional but highly recommended. Having English subtitles on an English title (or closed captioning) makes your film more accessible to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing impaired. In addition, having subtitles in other languages helps broaden the potential audience for your film or series. The most common languages on Fearless in addition to English are French and Spanish.
1b. For Non-English Titles
English subtitles are mandatory. No exceptions can be made as the Fearless audience is primarily English-speaking.
2a. Subtitle File Formats
All subtitles must be formatted as either a VTT file or an SRT file.
2b. Can subtitles be hardcoded instead?
We accept hardcoded subtitles when necessary (ie: older titles where a non-hardcoded version is not sourceable), but in general, it is strongly discouraged. Why? It’s just not as nice of an experience for members. Allowing a member to turn on or off subtitles themselves is a much better way for members to watch films & series. And we all want people to have the absolute best experience when watching our films & series, right?
3. Can you point me to any good resources for generating VTT or SRT files?
Absolutely! On the free side of things, you can upload your film or series to YouTube as a private video and use YouTube’s auto-captions feature to generate subtitles. You will need to verify and make changes afterwards as YouTube’s understanding of films isn’t perfect and it does make many mistakes, but it still gives you a starting off point to save you some time. Once you are finished, you can download the SRT file directly from YouTube and then you can delete the private video from YouTube afterwards.
And if you are looking for a paid solution, you can hire independent contractors to generate subtitles for you or you can also use services like Rev.com which costs about $1.25 per minute of video and they boast a 99% accuracy rate with a 24-48 hour turnaround in some cases.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that these rates and numbers were valid at the time of writing this based on Rev’s website and may change at any time. Fearless is in no way associated with Rev and Fearless is simply offering you a suggestion on where to turn because we are nice like that. 🙂