How to translate text written in video?
Thread poster: Nele Van den Broeck

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 07:12
French to Dutch
+ ...
Apr 11, 2015

Dear all,

Today I delivered my first subtitled video to a "client" (it's pro bono, the "client" is a friend who leads an NGO).
I did the translation, spotting and burning myself and my "client" was very impressed with the quality of my work.
So that makes me happy as well.
(I already subtitled at university before, using SWIFT, but this time I had to use Aegisub since SWIFT is still too expensive for me, and burning-in was also something I did for the first time).

I will start as a freelance translator/subtitler in a couple of months (still have to get everything organized financially and so on...), but am doing pro bono translation in the meantime for further practice and for my curriculum as well.

The "client" that was very impressed with my work now asked me if I would like to subtitle another video for him.
I told him I would look in to it and get back to him with my answer (he told me it is definitely not urgent).

The video itself is absolutely no problem, something I know that I can manage to subtitle.

However, I have spotted one problem (that appears a couple of times): there are several parts of video with a lot of written text in it, written in textboxes. It is definitely necessary to translate this, but due to the amount of text and also because there is still spoken text at the same time, I will not be able to enter the text as subtitles.

I don't know if you can really imagine what I describe, but if you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8-AjYFxjHM to 2:12, you will notice what I am talking about.

I would have to enter real textboxes with text into the video, and keep the spoken text as subtitles at the same time.
Does anyone have an idea how I can enter textboxes into the video and still get it to look professional?

For my first subtitled video outside university, I used Aegisub for the subtitling part (MP4 video, and the subtitling file became ASS) and Any Video Converter for burning-in. However, I have also installed Subtitle Workshop and VirtualDub on my computer.


 

Kalyanasundar subramaniam
India
Local time: 10:42
Tamil to English
+ ...
How to translate text written in video ? Apr 12, 2015

use drawing tags for text boxes .
Please refer http://docs.aegisub.org/3.1/ASS_Tags
Go to the Drawing section and refer for tags for boxes


{\p1}m 0 0 l 100 0 100 100 0 100{\p0} will help you to draw a box of 100 pixels size .

Use the \pos tag (also described on the page linked above) to position the box as desired.


 

Monica Paolillo
Italy
Local time: 07:12
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
My 2 cents Apr 12, 2015

Hi Nele,

good luck with your career in subtitlingicon_smile.gif What you described is generally referred to as "on-screen text". What we do is... if there is at least a 1 (for one-liners) to 2 (for two-liners) secs interval between subtitles where you can comfortably fit in the text then insert subtitles in all caps format for the on-screen text, otherwise the best way is for you to provide your client with the translated text and ask their video editor to replace the original with your translations. That is what would guarantee a sound experience for the viewer, otherwise it will be total confusion and no matter how good the text appears on screen, it's useless if nobody's able to read it if you know what I mean. Hope that helps!


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
- Apr 12, 2015

Monica Paolillo wrote:

Hi Nele,

good luck with your career in subtitlingicon_smile.gif What you described is generally referred to as "on-screen text". What we do is... if there is at least a 1 (for one-liners) to 2 (for two-liners) secs interval between subtitles where you can comfortably fit in the text then insert subtitles in all caps format for the on-screen text, otherwise the best way is for you to provide your client with the translated text and ask their video editor to replace the original with your translations. That is what would guarantee a sound experience for the viewer, otherwise it will be total confusion and no matter how good the text appears on screen, it's useless if nobody's able to read it if you know what I mean. Hope that helps!


I think in this case Kalyanasundar's suggestion works best. Using ASS Tags and ASSDraw3, you can create a box of the same color, size and position, and fill it with subtitles positioned the same way. Then you can burn these subs to make them look as if they were initially made that way in the target language. Works like wondersicon_smile.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My vote: DON'T! Apr 12, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

However, I have spotted one problem (that appears a couple of times): there are several parts of video with a lot of written text in it, written in textboxes. It is definitely necessary to translate this, but due to the amount of text and also because there is still spoken text at the same time, I will not be able to enter the text as subtitles.

I don't know if you can really imagine what I describe, but if you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8-AjYFxjHM to 2:12, you will notice what I am talking about.

I would have to enter real textboxes with text into the video, and keep the spoken text as subtitles at the same time.

For my first subtitled video outside university, I used Aegisub for the subtitling part (MP4 video, and the subtitling file became ASS) and Any Video Converter for burning-in. However, I have also installed Subtitle Workshop and VirtualDub on my computer.


(my emphasis above)

One issue then never bothered me in translation for dubbing was "advocating for the spectator". As the original sound won't be left there, any joke that makes no sense in the target language may be suppressed. Out of honesty, I'll feel I 'owe' the spectator a joke so, if an opportunity comes up, I'll make it even for them.

In subtitling I must "advocate for the spectator". I must empathize with anyone with a reasonably educated individual, who has no knowledge of the source language, watching that film. My QC focuses on the question: Will they effortlessly understand at least 80% of what's going on there?

I consider this facet of the subtitling work so important, that it should override - if necessary - any of the 'rules" of good subtitling I've ever heard.

Yesterday I watched one German movie, subtitled in Portuguese. I don't understand any German at all. Maybe they spoke too much and too fast, as I had to 'surmise" too much. Since it was for my personal entertainment, not work, I didn't bother to ascertain whether they had cut some essential content for conciseness, or whether the pace was too fast.

I also watched a Canadian French movie. I guess Canadians speak Québécois as fast as they do English in Toronto. FR-French is my L5, I can get by with it in a conversation, can time-spot subtitles into/from it, but I don't translate it. In this case, my entitlement as a spectator had been preserved. Though I noticed that my hard time to understand fast-paced FR would be harder in Canada, I could understand the dialogue with these subtitles.

So the point here is how much an average spectator can "take in" within the time allotted, i.e. without pausing or rewinding. It is up to the producer/translator/subtitler to refrain from 'choking' them.

I wrote this page to offer guidance to some prospects on when they should dub or subtitle a video. Of course, the information there is not all-inclusive nor authoritative; it merely offers a few sensible guidelines.

I'm not sure whether the YouTube example you gave above is actually the video you are about to subtitle. IMHO there is TOO MUCH text already on the screen there. Blame the producer! Anyway, most of it is quickly read aloud by the host, so it will be in the subtitles. I would leave that in the source language, so the spectator who is using the subtitles will need just one glance to ignore that completely.

However sometimes the text on screen does not match what is spoken. There is only so much input a spectator can take in. So, for instance, if "acceleration" is written on the screen, and the narration says "Goes from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds", I'd suggest they DUB the narration, and replace the onscreen text. A spectator usually won't be able to read BOTH, especially if there is (much?) more text than in this example.


On another post of mine (AVC vs. VD), VirtualDub allows you to overlay more than one set of subtitles at once, i.e. on the same render. Just add two or more Subtitler filters with their respective SSA files; they'll be completely independent. The one higher on the list will be placed first, the next over it, and so on, in case there is an overlap.

[Edited at 2015-04-12 11:08 GMT]


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 07:12
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you very much Apr 12, 2015

I'll try to reply to everyone here.

First of all though, I have to mention that this video will be used only by individual spectators on youtube and on my client's website. They will be able to pause the video whenever they feel like they want to read the on-screen text (thank you for this terminology Monica, I had most of my subtitling classes in Dutch and there is still a lot of subtitlingrelated terminology I don't know). My client is an NGO. He expects me to do everything from start to end.
What he wants is to receive an MP4 file with everything in Dutch. If he still wants some changes afterwards (he does understand Spanish himself), he will communicate it to me and I will have to change it myself and burn it in again. (Ok, pity for the burning in work that will be completely lost then, but I will survive that)...


To Monica Paolillo: In another context your proposition would be my preferred option.
However, first of all: my client does not have a "video editor". The subtitled video does not have to be absolutely perfect either (although it should be very good). His only wish is to receive a video that his spectators will understand. He just wants to inform Dutchspeaking people about what is happening in Cuba.


To Kalyanasundar and Max Deryagin (thank you for helping me again...): I will probably use your option, thank you...


To José Lamensdorf:
I absolutely understand your reaction.
The video I gave you is really the video I am about to subtitle (or at least half of it). However, I did gave you a part with less problems since as you mentioned, most of what's mentioned there is read aloud as well.
In this particular case I could, as you suggested, leave it just in the source language.
I just gave you this particular part to make it clear that I would not always be able to just put it in subtitles.
However, in this video there are still other parts where I will need to translate "on-screen" text.

For example: on 11:00, there's text written on the wall. If you don't translate that, the target audience will miss something, although I know it's something minor. And around 18:39, there are subtitles written in Spanish which in my case would have to be there in Dutch...

For the 2:12 part I would probably translate it as well, because some of my client's spectators (I know quite a lot of them) who are very interested in the subject, will want to ready everything in it and will just pause the video. The others will probably just read the subtitles of the spoken text and ignore the text in the textbox (I really think that most of the source spectators probably did the same thing: listened to the spoken part, ignored the rest).

In any case: translating text on-screen is something that I would like to learn, since it can be very useful for future subtitling projects.

About Dubbing/Subtitling:
In Belgium it is very clear when you have to subtitle and when you have to dub (mostly subtitling)
Belgium is a subtitling-culture, whereas for example Spain is more a dubbing-culture (I don't know about Brazil, but I suppose it's also more on the dubbingside?). France for example would be something in between: they use dubbing and subtitling, but they translate the names of their films for example. In Belgium, films originally made in French and English will keep their original name. In cinema they will be played in the original version with subtitles (films with a lot of children as visitors will mostly have 2 versions in our cinema: a dubbed version AND an original version + subtitles). Most of our films in cinema will have subtitles in one language (either in Dutch or in French, depending where you are in Belgium), other films will display subtitles in Dutch and French at the same time (usually Dutch as the first line, French as second line).

In Belgium you would normally not find dubbed films.
We normally only dub for children or blind people. For most Belgian adults, seeing things dubbed is very strange and makes us feel a bit stupid...

[Edited at 2015-04-12 18:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-12 18:43 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Nele - Software for editing Apr 12, 2015

Maybe the AVS suite will be worthwhile for you. For simple video tricks, their Video Editor is much easier to use than Sony Vegas. As I don't use the latter so often, every time I do it, I have to re-learn 'where's what' there all over again, so feature-packed Vegas is.

The other utilities may come in handy now and then, and it's cheap enough to justify the overall investment. I use their Registry Cleaner regularly, friendlier than AVG's Tune Up.

AVC, AVS, AVG... can't they use other parts of the alphabet too?icon_smile.gif


 


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