Translation & "pre-dubbing" job -- The confounded passage of time!
Thread poster: Dorian Cave

Dorian Cave  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:22
Chinese to French
+ ...
Feb 27, 2017

Hi everyone,

I just gave pre-dubbing a try recently, and found the process rather dumbfounding.

A client asked me to prepare an episode from a TV series for dubbing, meaning:
- translating the dialogue from the script they sent me;
- watching the video, and adding/modifying the dialogue accordingly (i.e. [GRUNTS], [CHUCKLES], [CACKLES WITH WILD LAUGHTER], etc.);
- and for each "block" of speech (i.e. sequence of words spoken by a single character without being interrupted by another), inserting the time code for when that character starts to speak (but no need to indicate when they stop).

The two first tasks were a breeze. But as for the third, well...
Let me try to explain this strange quandary clearly.

As I have experience producing subtitles, I decided to tackle the time code task by using Aegisub — it enables one to conveniently pinpoint a line of dialogue by highlighting a character's voice sound-wave quite precisely. So I pasted the translated dialogue blocks into a new subtitle file, and got down to work.

What I didn't pay attention to (and which the client hadn't specified at first) was that I was supposed to indicate the right time codes using those burnt into the video file — instead of trusting Aegisub's faithful video player. Rookie mistake, probably, but anyway. And I found out, belatedly, that the time codes burned into the file were VERY different from those measured by Aegisub:

- The burned time codes started at 00:59:51.200. That was easy enough to compensate: using Aegisub's "Time Shift" function, I was able to shift all the time codes into the future by adding that amount of time to all the lines, in the end.
- BUT I then found out that not only did the burned-in time start late, it also flowed differently: for instance, while a line of dialogue starting at 00:00:43.960 according to the video player would correspond to 01:00:35.240 in the burned-in time codes (= a time difference of 00:59:51.280), another starting at 00:49:46.305 (video player) would correspond to 01:49:38.080 (= a time difference of 00:59:51.775)!

In a word, the time difference between different segments across the video file was NOT THE SAME — as if the burned-in time codes sometimes accelerated or slowed down randomly. It's only a matter of a few hundred milliseconds, to be sure, but still...

Because of that, in the end, I ended up with time codes that were perfectly correct based on the video file's audio track, but whose accuracy varied according to the burned-in time codes.


- Has anyone else encountered this kind of situation?
- O ye seasoned pre-dubbers out there: what sort of software would you use to accomplish this kind of task — i.e. only relying on burned-in time codes, instead of audio soundwaves? (Please don't tell me you just use a pen, paper, and the space bar of your video player).

Any feedback much appreciated.



Dorian Cave  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:22
Chinese to French
+ ...
Duh Feb 27, 2017

Turns out the burned in time codes are displayed as frames, of course [facepalm]
(This project has become a crash course in video editing terminology...)

Just in case anyone might need some help in converting timecodes from one format to the other:


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Translation & "pre-dubbing" job -- The confounded passage of time!

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