Subtitling strategy for training videos
Thread poster: Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
French to English
+ ...
Mar 19, 2013

Hi everyone,

I have a question that I'm hoping to get some help on from experienced subtitle translators out there! I work for a non-profit here in San Francisco, and we work with a number of partners in countries where French and Spanish are spoken. This year we're planning on preparing a number of training videos showing these partners how to use the various technological platforms we use.

So, here comes the hard part! I work in the translation department, but have been asked for my input on a strategy for subtitling these videos. We'll need the content localized in French and Spanish, but the problem is that we only have enough budget (as we're an NGO) to make the video in English. In other words, the video will show the platform being used in English, and the names of the various menus, buttons, areas, etc. of the software won't appear in the language in which the subtitles will be localized.

The only strategy I can think of right now is to provide the translators with a glossary of the various menus and buttons as they appear in the localized versions of the platforms, make sure that they use these translations, and then put a disclaimer at the start of the video subtitles (in the language in question) informing our partners that the video will show the platform as it appears in English, but the terms they will see when they actually use the platform are those appearing in the subtitles. That said, I've never worked in subtitling training videos before, so I was wondering if anyone out there had seen any different strategies used for similar issues in the past.

Thanks to anyone who has the time to make a suggestion or two!

Paul

[Edited at 2013-03-19 23:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-03-19 23:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-03-19 23:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-03-19 23:46 GMT]


 

Monica Paolillo
Italy
Local time: 13:28
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I think your strategy will do Mar 20, 2013

Hi Paul,

I'm a professional subtitler. Honestly I've never come across a situation like the one you describe before but in principle I find it logic to subtitle the content with exactly the same strings and menu buttons the local viewers will find on their equipment.

It's paramount though that you inform your viewers of this discrepancy and I think you should instruct your subtitlers to put this note as an initial subtitle if the video timeline allows for that. It wouldn't make any sense to edit the video itself by including a screen with these directions because in that case you wouldn't be able to use the same video (without subtitles) for the English speakers.

You raised a good point and I'm curious to find out what other subtitlers think of this.

Best of luck with the project.

Monica


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My sincere opinion Mar 20, 2013

Though subtitling is the cheaper option (in Brazil, such work done professionally usually costs 1/3 of dubbing), I don't think it will work here.

A snippet from my web page on the video dub/sub issue:
Subtitling definitely doesn't work for technical instruction films. One cannot read something like "Pull the latch release under the cover to get access to the control knob underneath", and watch how it's done at the same time.


Quite honestly, I think dubbing is the best option here. Since it seems to be just a tutorial for users of some computer system, anyone able to speak the target language would be able to record the instructions/explanations on audio while showing them. No sound studio quality is required, no lip-sync (I guess), so a plain headset with a microphone should work.

You'll find hundreds, or maybe thousands of such tutorials for the most varied software packages on YouTube, and some of the folks who recorded them could barely speak coherently in their own native language! Yet they usually work.

Furthermore, all you'll have to do will be to replace the audio track. No spotting, no burning involved. Should be easier than subtitling, both for the "producers" and the spectators.


 

Monica Paolillo
Italy
Local time: 13:28
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Re: My sincere opinion Mar 20, 2013

I wasn't thinking we could question a decision that has already been made (opting for subtitles) but in principle I must say I agree with José even though a possible option is have a hard copy of the subtitles so that the viewers can later refer to the text if anything wasn't too clear and of course they could stop and rewind the video if needed... If dubbing is an option I also consider that one more suitable to this scenario.

 

Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Mar 20, 2013

Thanks to both of you for your input on this, it's really useful! I'll be speaking to those involved in the project this week, so will definitely bring up the option of dubbing. I think the decision to sub the video was based on cost, but it looks like dubbing won't make a huge difference price-wise if we manage to do it inhouse, and if it makes the training videos clearer, that's always good! We work with microfinance institutions in countries where those involved in the training aren't always the most tech-savvy, so any way of avoiding the distraction of subtitles and focusing them on the actual learning process will be great.

I'll be sure to post back here and let you know how it all went - thanks again!

Paul

P.S. Thanks for the link to your website José - that's a really interesting article!


 

Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:28
Chinese to English
+ ...
Subtitling vs dubbing Mar 21, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

A snippet from my web page on the video dub/sub issue:
Subtitling definitely doesn't work for technical instruction films. One cannot read something like "Pull the latch release under the cover to get access to the control knob underneath", and watch how it's done at the same time.



Not speaking as a professional subtitle translator here, but IMHO dubbing does not need to (and indeed should not) preclude subtitling.

Subtitling may sometimes be required even if the video is dubbed, such as if some of your target audience may be deaf. In certain countries or regions (such as, very soon, my own province of Ontario), subtitling will very much be required for this very reason.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Did you read my article? Mar 21, 2013

Ambrose Li wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

A snippet from my web page on the video dub/sub issue:
Subtitling definitely doesn't work for technical instruction films. One cannot read something like "Pull the latch release under the cover to get access to the control knob underneath", and watch how it's done at the same time.



Not speaking as a professional subtitle translator here, but IMHO dubbing does not need to (and indeed should not) preclude subtitling.

Subtitling may sometimes be required even if the video is dubbed, such as if some of your target audience may be deaf. In certain countries or regions (such as, very soon, my own province of Ontario), subtitling will very much be required for this very reason.


Ambrose, I don't want to quibble about it, however for the benefit of readers who are learning about it, I'd like to set the record straight.

Subtitling = audio in language A + subtitles in language B
Closed captioning = both audio and subtitles in the same language; subtitles include the description of relevant noises, e.g. "car starts", "door slams", "loud music", etc.

The article above covers the decision dubbing x subtitling x hybrid only. However in another article, I say:
This article would not be complete if I failed to mention closed caption. They are like subtitles, however with a different purpose: providing the complete audio for hearing-impaired spectators. They don't require translation, as closed captions are in the same language as the audio track being played. No objection however, to closed captions on a dubbed video. They include not only the full spoken script, but specific noises, such as [car starts], [bell rings], [dog barks], etc.

Bear in mind that the hearing impairment might not always be in the spectator, but a noisy environment, such as in a train station, may render closed captioning useful.



I'm not trying to be a pain, but instead highlight the importance of proper terminology, which is rare. This very week, I had two cases of different local PMs hiring me because clients of theirs wanted videos in English "transcribed".

As I probed for more information, the PMs called their clients, and ascertained that they wanted the videos "transcribed into Portuguese". I had to explain that this is not transcription, but translation instead. If it's translation they want, it can (and should) be done directly from the video; it's worth checking whether the expense in transcribing will be justified.

More phone calls. One client wanted a verbatim transcript and its translation, side by side, in a table, one full sentence in each cell (and called it "transcription"). The other one wanted the entire video subtitled (and called it "transcription" too!).

A long story was made short here, however had the proper terminology been used, all of us (clients, PMs, I) would have saved more than a dozen phone calls, and a lot of precious time, as both jobs were "urgent", as usual.

That's why I published these two and many other articles on my web site.

[Edited at 2013-03-21 10:11 GMT]


 

Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:28
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sorry Mar 23, 2013

I do know the difference, so I apologize for being slack and not making the distinction.

That said, with respect to “relevant noises,” I’m not seeing a difference between subtitling and captioning. Captions (at least as they exist here in Canada) also include “relevant noises,” and if the video in question is instructional, most noises are irrelevant and shouldn’t be transcribed, whether in captions or subtitles.


 


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Subtitling strategy for training videos

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