Film transcription guidelines - dealing with overlapping speech
Thread poster: manusmcmanus
manusmcmanus
Local time: 19:10
Oct 4, 2009

I have a film commentary(director's commentary) to transcribe.

As standard practise, what transcription type should I use, i.e: verbatim, intelligent verbatim or edited.
I have started doing a intelligent verbatim transcription and was wondering if any experts in the field could let me know if this is the norm. Transcription will probably be translated to a target language and subtitled.

One other area I was uncertain of is; how to deal with overlapping dialogues in the director's commentary (3/4 speakers). Here there are two possibilities:

i) Where the secondary and tertiary voices are merely affirmative, or non-important phrases ("Oh my gosh", "really?") in the background of the main speakers lengthy dialogue. In this case should I include all spoken dialogue by all speakers? If so, how do I present that?

ii) Where all speakers are saying something of direct relevance, importance to the video. So, all must be transcribed. Again, how do I present the overlapping dialogues?


I have been asked to insert TC's at occasional intervals, after long pauses etc..etc... and not for each new speaker.

Thank you in advance for any replies.

Yours,

Manus.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends on the purpose Oct 5, 2009

manusmcmanus wrote:
Transcription will probably be translated to a target language and subtitled.


Probably is not enough. You must know beforehand what is expected from you. Some comments on this in my guide at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/guide.html . Imagine if the client told you that the video will probably be translated into Italian... but maybe into another language instead?

manusmcmanus wrote:
One other area I was uncertain of is; how to deal with overlapping dialogues in the director's commentary (3/4 speakers). Here there are two possibilities:

i) Where the secondary and tertiary voices are merely affirmative, or non-important phrases ("Oh my gosh", "really?") in the background of the main speakers lengthy dialogue. In this case should I include all spoken dialogue by all speakers? If so, how do I present that?

ii) Where all speakers are saying something of direct relevance, importance to the video. So, all must be transcribed. Again, how do I present the overlapping dialogues?


If it's for dubbing, you must translate all that is said. If you don't have the script, you have to invent something that is visibly said on the screen. Unless you do so, and if it's not said by anyone who is visible, it will be up to the dubbing director to create something, or to leave the film without that, depending on relevance and feasibility.

If it's for subtitling, you have a tough choice on what's most relevant in the story, and discard the rest. The whole idea of subtitling is to watch the film with a mute simultaneous interpreter who is a very fast typist. If the spectator will get the point, the tone overlapping speech (and its existence) will be noticed, but not translated.

Nevertheless, you must know what you will be doing - i.e. what will be done with your output - before getting started.

[Edited at 2009-10-05 10:57 GMT]


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manusmcmanus
Local time: 19:10
TOPIC STARTER
It's a director's commentary over the film, DVD extra Oct 5, 2009

Thank you José,

It was my impression too that what exactly would be done next with the transcript would be of importance. If it is to be dubbed, it certainly requires more detail than if it is to translated and subtitled!

I have contacted the client to confirm this. - Naturally I'm hoping it is for translating and subtitling, so I can provide an intelligent verbatim transcript, not a verbatim one!



I am only transcribing, not translating the director's commentary.

So, if the client confirms that it is to be translated and subtitled - I will transcribe almost all dialogue, even if it is overlapping. It is then for whoever is doing the subtitles to edit out the background/non-relevant dialogue. This sounds reasonable, right?

My second problem is how to present in the transcription the overlapping dialogue.
I have never come across this before.

Should I bracket '[' ']' the overlapping dialogue. numbering them if there is more than one case of overlapping dialogue in an example?

Examples:

i)

Person A: Hello, my name is John and [I come from Ohio, pleased to meet you.]

Person B: [Hi John, I'm Sandy. It's a lovely day,] isn't it?


ii)

Person A: Hello, my name is John and [1 I come from Ohio, pleased to meet you.]

Person B: [1 Hi John, I'm Sandy. It's a lovely day,] isn't it? It was [2 raining this morning.]

Person C: [2 Hi there Sandy!]


I know this, or more complicated, means of presenting overlapping dialogue are used in audio transcriptions/legal transcriptions. But I can't locate and examples or guide on video/film transcriptions. Or on the forum!

Perhaps someone with experience in transcribing multi-person overlapping dialogue could advise on this?

Or an expert subtitler like yourself, José, would have probably met countless examples in transcripts of overlapping dialogue, how it is usually dealt with?

There is so much going on in this director's commentary, not including the actual film, that I know a translator or dubbing artist would need to at least understand what is being said, even if a lot of the secondary and tertiary dialogue is eventually removed as it is not necessary.

[Edited at 2009-10-05 13:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-10-05 14:51 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Messy job Oct 6, 2009

manusmcmanus wrote:
So, if the client confirms that it is to be translated and subtitled - I will transcribe almost all dialogue, even if it is overlapping. It is then for whoever is doing the subtitles to edit out the background/non-relevant dialogue. This sounds reasonable, right?


My guess is that they are transcribing first to have the script translated into several languages, most likely with different translators, as this makes the whole process cheaper (translating text is cheaper than from video).

Imagine if each translator has different views on what's relevant?

If the video is spoken in an uncommon language, e.g. Lower Sloboviak, the best is to have it fully and directly translated for subtitles into a more popular language, e.g. English, French, Spanish by a competent professional. Then all other translators could work from, say, the English subs into their target languages.

manusmcmanus wrote:
My second problem is how to present in the transcription the overlapping dialogue.
I have never come across this before.


I think it should be obvious that whoever will translate your transcript from Sloboviak into English (using my example above) will understand the source language as it is spoken. Maybe they are just not familiar with working from video. But they must watch the video.

manusmcmanus wrote:
Should I bracket '[' ']' the overlapping dialogue. numbering them if there is more than one case of overlapping dialogue in an example?


The best option? Ask them. If they are playing with cards close to their chest, do exactly as they tell you. Don't try to guess. (I think that if they don't know what they want, you don't stand much of a chance to guess it right.)

manusmcmanus wrote:
Perhaps someone with experience in transcribing multi-person overlapping dialogue could advise on this?

Or an expert subtitler like yourself, José, would have probably met countless examples in transcripts of overlapping dialogue, how it is usually dealt with?


There is no such experience per se. In subtitling, the translator has to prioritize what's most relevant. In your case, if the director is comenting on a scene, translate whatever s/he is saying. The original audio will be there. If spectators want the original dialogue, let them watch the film, not the director's comments.

If it were the case for dubbing, it would be possible to take the whole-movie soundtrack, re-sync the parts on the director's commentary, dub the director, and remix the commentary video.

manusmcmanus wrote:
There is so much going on in this director's commentary, not including the actual film, that I know a translator or dubbing artist would need to at least understand what is being said, even if a lot of the secondary and tertiary dialogue is eventually removed as it is not necessary.


It won't be "removed". It will just be left in Sloboviak!


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manusmcmanus
Local time: 19:10
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks José Oct 7, 2009

[quote]José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I think it should be obvious that whoever will translate your transcript from Sloboviak into English (using my example above) will understand the source language as it is spoken. Maybe they are just not familiar with working from video. But they must watch the video.


You're above point showed me the light, thanks.

The next person along the production line, be that translator or translator/time-coder must understand the source language (English). Thus they should be able to align the transcription dialogue battutte with the spoken word and so spot it if deemed necessary to the subtitles.

My transcription should simply ensure complete clarity of what is being said by all speakers.
[The client confirmed that the transcription was for translation and subtitling and that an intelligent verbatim transcription was required.]

My solution was to insert Tc's at regular intervals, but also to frame passages in which 2/3/4 speakers spoke at once by inserting additional precise, 'conversation breaking' TC's. Thereby, ensuring that whomever deals with the next step along the line has, let's say, 'self-contained dialogue passages,' to aid them in exacting the time of the overlapping dialogues.

There appears to be very little resources available on-line concerning video transcriptions, and as I have discovered it can be quite a big different from audio transcriptions. Strange that!

Again, thank you for your time José.


By the way there's some very interesting stuff on your site, keep up the good work.

Yours,

Manus.


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Film transcription guidelines - dealing with overlapping speech

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