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Surtitling

Captioning: subtitling suitable for live performances

Live performances in French or other foreign languages are starting to become more common. Babel Subtitling offers - via surtitling - the opportunity to make your project more accessible to an audience that doesn't master the source language of the production.


Surtitling is a subtitling technique which is adapted to the stage (theatre and opera) and other public events such as conferences or presentations. In terms of legibility and managing space, the captions appear above the stage.


The procedure for dividing the text up is different to classic subtitling. The translation is done beforehand using the original text and surtitling also takes the unique nature of each performance into account to create the most accurate audiovisual adaptation.


At Babel Subtitling, we assess the most suitable situation together.

We provide a full service every step of the way from the translation to the public screening. Each process is taken into account individually or in its entirety depending on the requirements and we ensure that the project is constantly monitored from start to finish.


Surtitling step by step


This type of audiovisual adaptation is done in phases in collaboration with the director/writer:

  • 1. Translation.
  • 2. Dividing up (narration) the show depending on the rhythm of the play: this phase is carried out before the translation based on a recording of the play if it’s available.
  • 3. Adaptation of the translation and narration based on the director’s intentions.
  • 4. Adaptation of surtitles during rehearsals or run-throughs: this phase could be of greater or lesser importance if it involves a play which is still in development (creation) or a rerun.

We also create surtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. For surtitling, typography guidelines refer to the nature of the text, sound effects and music. The surtitles also indicate who the speaker is.


Live projection of surtitles


From a technical perspective, our surtitling management programme has been designed particularly for live spotting via video projection. The projection screens can be part of the play’s set or be installed above the stage.


In terms of equipment, we have all the necessary equipment: dedicated computers, programs, screens, video projectors, accessories, LED screens, etc. We can also adapt to the producer’s/programmer’s equipment.


The equipment can be adapted to any restrictions imposed by the venue to project surtitles in the best possible conditions.


Language combinations in surtitling


  • Into French: from English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, Arabic;
  • Into Dutch: from French, English, Spanish, Italian;
  • Into English: from French, Dutch, German;
  • From French into English, Spanish, Italian, German.

This list is always evolving. If you wish to work into or from another language, please contact us so we can assess feasibility, regardless of whether the desired language combination is listed or not.


Where surtitling can be used


Theatre performances (creations or reruns), opera, conferences, seminars, surtitling plays for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, etc.



Babel Subtitling

  • Surtitling, scenic captioning