Film without subtitles
Thread poster: Maria Timoshina

Maria Timoshina  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
English to Russian
+ ...
Jul 7, 2008

Dear all!

Recently I've started working film translation agency (mostly American war films, with lots of army terminology), so I'm quite new to subtitling. Nevertheless, the work seemed quite interesting to me.

But the last film the agency sent to me had lots of missing subtitles. I said to my client that this film is not ready for translation and I will probably spend too much time trying to understand the actors' speech without subtitles, so this is another kind of job (kind of oral translation) and, therefore, it should be paid differently. My client then tried to explain to me that translating without subtitles is much easier and "LOTS" of their "more experienced" translators intentionally do not look in the subtitles to save time. The discussion finished in such a way that I am probably not experienced enough yet to translate so "difficult" films and that he would better give this order to another translator and call me later with an easier film.

So, the thing I want to ask is who is right in this situation. I am probably not experienced enough, but still I can't understand how can translation without subtitles be easier? And another question is how price of this translation differ from a normal subtitles translation?

Thanks a lot.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Two different things Jul 7, 2008

One thing is to translate a video for subtitling, and another is to translate video subtitles.

To translate a video for subtitling, all you get is the video. Sometimes they send you a script, which in your case would be quite helpful, to sort out the dialogue exchanged under heavy artillery. From that, the translator has to listen to the audio, apply the subtitling translation techniques (described in a good article available on Proz - so I won't cover them here), and generate the subtitles text. Then someone (it may be the same translator) will spot, or time-code each subtitle, setting its time-in and time-out.

To translate the subtitles, which seems to be what you do, depending on the video (though this may be risky...) the translator might do it from the subtitles in another language alone, and use the subtitles file generated for it.

I have such cases quite often. A local agency gets a film in English, to be subbed in both Portuguese and Spanish. I translate it from the audio, and do the spotting for PT. Then my subtitles file is sent to a PT-ES translator. Either WordFast or Trados will simply skip over all time codes, so I'll get a subtitles file in ES, to assemble a multilingual DVD. Of course, I check that there were no slip-ups in the EN-ES process. Though I don't translate ES, I understand and speak it well enough to know exactly what's going on. The bottom line is that the second language translation comes out much faster and cheaper than doing it twice from the video.

As PT and ES are both Latin languages, íf the ES translator does the job within the subtitling rules and uses common sense, I might have just a couple of minor adjustments in the ES spotting.

Just as a reminder, I'm in Brazil, where the local language is Portuguese. Sometimes we have the same job, but the video is in PT, and the end-client wants subtitles in both EN and ES. Okay, I can do the same job, translating from PT into EN and spotting. But the PT-ES translator often has a somewhat limited knowledge of EN (similar to my ES). They'll work from the PT audio, using the EN breaks just for reference. This means that due to the different language structure (viz. EN x ES), I'll have to make more adjustments to the spotting than in the previous case.

Nevertheless, it's more economical and faster to work from ready subtitles than from the video itself. But someone should check the finished subtitles in any language against the original video. It may be the translator or not.

I hope to have given you a general idea on how it works. Now that a DVD can hold some 30+ subtitle sets (= different languages), cost savings in the process are a must.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:49
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Depends on quality Jul 7, 2008

If the customer is satisfied with any subtitles only for the sake of having them - ok. But translating from spoken dialogue is very riski. You should be a native American speaker and experienced in war-related jargon in order to get things right when transcribing the dialogue in English. From that transcript other languages can be translated, but still you need experience even then.
Better loose a job than do a bad job.
Regards
Heinrich


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Tatiana Grzegorzewska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:49
English to Polish
+ ...
They should pay you more... Jul 7, 2008

...for translating without a script. It is bound to be more time-consuming, regardless of your experience.

Good luck,
Tatiana


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Maria Timoshina  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thx! Jul 7, 2008

Thanks a lot for all your answers.
I feel a little bit more confident of my decision now.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:49
French to Spanish
+ ...
I should say... Jul 7, 2008

...that you should go on and translate by ear... for your experience.
This is the most difficult of all translation for subtitling parts: if you can do it, you'll can do anything and you'll be a real champ!
When I began, the studio that hired me NEVER gave me a dialogue list (even if they had it): it was/is very hard and frustrating to do, sentence by sentence, forward, backward, stop, write, repeat, etc. THERE you must demonstrate you perfectly know both languages!
And I thank that studio for such a strange way to put translators into work: now I'm a champ!

-"No spotting list? No problem!" "No dialogue list? No problem!" "No subtitles? No problem!"

-"How will you do it, then?"

-"That's MY problem. I can do it!"

Translate subtitiles is very easy, may I say it, when you see them on screen.
Try something realy harsh.

And, of course, this job must be paid much more.

Try it... it'll be painfull, but then, your ego will love it!

Good luck.

(You have "some" missing subtitles: imagine doing so for ALL the picture, no less than 800 subtitles. At least 3 full day work!)


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Maria Timoshina  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translating for experience Jul 7, 2008

Dear Juan,

That's just the point why I have written here.
Translating it for myself and for my experience is ok, and I completely agree that this can do my only good. But what I was a little confused with, is that the client tried to convince me that it's much easier and quicker than translating with subtitles.

It was two-hour film where subtitles appeared only once in 10-15 minutes, so I considered that it was practically without them.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A special case Jul 7, 2008

Maria Timoshina wrote:
It was two-hour film where subtitles appeared only once in 10-15 minutes, so I considered that it was practically without them.


Are you sure the whole film was in spoken in the same language throughout?

Take, for instance, an old classic, "Come September", whith Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida, from the early 1960s. You may find the whole film segmented on YouTube. It's an American film, shot in Italy. So it's spoken in English, but for some of the plot, parts of it are spoken in Italian, which Hudson's role does not understand. So they subtitle these in English for the spectator's benefit. The lines in Italian which Lollobrigida translates into English immediately afterwards, of course, are not subtitled.

So, from what you say, rare subtitles, maybe there are some "foreign" roles in the film that must be kept so, as their not understanding or not being understood may be part of the plot.


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Marina Aleyeva  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 23:49
English to Russian
+ ...
It's not easy Jul 7, 2008

Juan Jacob wrote:
Translate subtitiles is very easy, may I say it, when you see them on screen.


Sorry, but that is not true. Translating subtitles is as difficult as any translation job in terms of coming up with the right wordings in your own language. The fact that it is often "just" everyday speech does not make it any easier. It takes as much thinking as any translation, sometimes even more. With subtitles, this is further complicated with various challenges, including (but not limited to):
plenty of street jargon,
professional jargon,
jokes and puns,
character names,
all sorts of allusions,
cultural things,
making each character's language distinct as appropriate,
having to keep it short yet comprehensible and within a certain character limit for each subtitle etc.

[Edited at 2008-07-07 17:53]


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:49
French to Spanish
+ ...
To Marina and Maria. Jul 7, 2008

I ment, when the translator is perfectly bilingual ("native", as we say), it is very easy. Very rarely a motion picture has difficult terms, like poetry. It's 99.99 % everyday language. (We are talking about "motion picture", not documentary or interviews, sometimes difficult, yes).

You point in your profile: "Over 20 hours of subtitled video."

Don't want to be pedantic, I have over 9 000 hours.

To Maria:

"But what I was a little confused with, is that the client tried to convince me that it's much easier and quicker than translating with subtitles."

Client doesn't know anything about the matter, of course.

"It was two-hour film where subtitles appeared only once in 10-15 minutes, so I considered that it was practically without them."

Very strange, subtitles every 10-15. Of course, as we say, you should do the job "from scratch"... you didn't agree on that, did you?

Luck.


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Maria Timoshina  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
to José and Juan Jul 8, 2008

to José Henrique:
No, the whole film was in English, only the subtitles were not complete.

to Juan:
I did not agree, because the client did not have any intention to change the price, as I said before.


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Melina Kajander
Finland
English to Finnish
Marina's right Jul 11, 2008

Marina Aleyeva wrote:

Juan Jacob wrote:
Translate subtitiles is very easy, may I say it, when you see them on screen.


Sorry, but that is not true. Translating subtitles is as difficult as any translation job in terms of coming up with the right wordings in your own language. The fact that it is often "just" everyday speech does not make it any easier. It takes as much thinking as any translation, sometimes even more. With subtitles, this is further complicated with various challenges, including (but not limited to):
plenty of street jargon,
professional jargon,
jokes and puns,
character names,
all sorts of allusions,
cultural things,
making each character's language distinct as appropriate,
having to keep it short yet comprehensible and within a certain character limit for each subtitle etc.

[Edited at 2008-07-07 17:53]


Fully agree with Marina.

I simply don't know how anyone who's translated subtitles to any extent could say it's "very easy" (and I have translated them *a lot*).

True, it's often more fun than other types of translation, but "very easy", no...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Easy??? Jul 11, 2008

Melina Kajander wrote:
I simply don't know how anyone who's translated subtitles to any extent could say it's "very easy" (and I have translated them *a lot*).
True, it's often more fun than other types of translation, but "very easy", no...


If it were so easy, any translator would be doing it. Unfortunately, none of the best translators I know in my language pair for a couple of specialties (viz. medicine and finance) can translate from audio or video.

Regarding its being fun or not, it depends on the subject one translates. Of course it's often an exercise in creativity, which is fun on its own when one has it. So it's not universal.

Quite frankly, I do have more fun after subtitling is done, when I have to develop and assemble a complex, interactive, non-linear DVD, from the thoroughly linear video(s) provided, e.g. on VHS tape. Getting three of these today. Yesss!


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:49
English
+ ...
Quick and easy or done well Jul 23, 2008

Melina Kajander wrote:

Marina Aleyeva wrote:

Juan Jacob wrote:
Translate subtitiles is very easy, may I say it, when you see them on screen.


Sorry, but that is not true. Translating subtitles is as difficult as any translation job in terms of coming up with the right wordings in your own language. The fact that it is often "just" everyday speech does not make it any easier. It takes as much thinking as any translation, sometimes even more. With subtitles, this is further complicated with various challenges, including (but not limited to):
plenty of street jargon,
professional jargon,
jokes and puns,
character names,
all sorts of allusions,
cultural things,
making each character's language distinct as appropriate,
having to keep it short yet comprehensible and within a certain character limit for each subtitle etc.

[Edited at 2008-07-07 17:53]


Fully agree with Marina.

I simply don't know how anyone who's translated subtitles to any extent could say it's "very easy" (and I have translated them *a lot*).

True, it's often more fun than other types of translation, but "very easy", no...


I totally agree with Marina and Melina.
As someone who's been translating and subtitling for nearly 20 years, I'd say I have enough experience to comment on this topic. It's fairly easy to translate and subtitle quickly, but the quality of the work when done quickly is often poor.

It's much easier to translate formal written text because you have time and space to explain and elaborate, but when you've only got 1:20 seconds to convey a punchline to a joke which wouldn't be funny in your language, it becomes a little more complicated. The same is true for any slang or jargon. Yes, some documentaries and films can be fairly straightforward, but they are few and far between.

There's quite a difference too between translating subtitles from text and "doing it on the fly". To be honest, I prefer to do the spotting and translation myself because it gives me a greater degree of flexibility, but it is more complicated, and as such, should be paid more, because you tend to edit as well as translate, rather than working from someone else's edited captions.


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Chinaman
English
I need help with films without sutitles Nov 13, 2008

hi,I like english movies.but most of them without subtitles. How to get what is said in movies ?

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