Film translation and subtitle translation have always been challenging localization tasks. Our team loves subtitle projects.
Film translation and subtitle translation have always been challenging localization tasks. This is not only because the process involved in the localization process is close and the tools are complicated, but also because the translator needs certain skills to quickly transfer the information of directors and actors from one cultural context to another.
On my way home from a recent business trip, I decided to watch a movie on the plane. I converted the language of the screen to Arabic and started scanning options. An Arabic film called "The Side Effects of Beauty" attracted my attention. I couldn't help but read the subtitles of the movie and look at the movie information behind the translation. This is the so-called "most beautiful arrangement" in English. I have this idea because I am proficient in these two languages, but if I am not proficient in both languages, I cannot associate this movie with the title. The problem is that the film has been translated into Arabic, but there is no proper localization. We not only see this problem in movie translation, but also in video games and digital learning video translation. You may have experienced a similar phenomenon.
The subtitle project is not only related to text and culture, but also related to pictures, videos and sounds. In the previous company, when we first started the subtitle service, we made some mistakes. This service took a while to succeed. This is a long road, but here are some high-level tips that may help shorten your time!
Focus on the script, not the text
Before you start translating, make sure you understand the general idea of the film and how each scene conveys the theme to ensure that you fully understand the narrative of the film, as well as the personality and style of the characters. This allows you to properly convey these ideas from start to finish.
Quotes and jokes pay special attention to the difference between quotes and jokes. Although quotes about public figures should be faithfully translated, jokes have cultural attributes and may require some adaptation or even rewriting to suit the target culture.
Not all subtitle projects require sound management, it depends entirely on the customer's requirements. In some projects, it may be necessary to add tags or sound titles to add content to the scene. For example, if you can't hear a speech clearly, or you need to express background noise or show the source of the sound.
Time code and display
It is important to display subtitles within the exact time of speaking. This will be displayed at the beginning of the scene. Equally important, they must disappear at the right time.
Another display issue you may need to deal with is screen width. Make sure that the translation does not go beyond the screen and or stall.
Keeping the length of the text and speaking it out loud will help the synchronization part of the subtitle production process.
Deliverables and tools
In this article, customer needs are always the key. Please make sure you understand whether you are transmitting SRT files, these files are time-coded documents that can be imported into the subtitle software, or whether the client will embed the translation into the video. If you need embedded translation, you need a multimedia or localization engineer to handle the task.
Bidirectional Language (BiDi) Challenge
Last but not least, if you are working on a subtitle project in a bidirectional language (such as Arabic), you need to be aware of bidirectional language features that are not supported by all tools. These features may include reading order, neutral characters, and alignment.
In short, the captioning project was full of challenges and did not follow the normal process of translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP). What you need to worry about is not just the text to be translated or the use of computer-assisted translation. What you need to worry about is the story, characters, visual effects, and sound effects.
However, such projects can also be educational and fun! Our team likes subtitles projects, and they think watching movies or playing video games during working hours is a great enjoyment.