Creado el: 17/02/2021
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

Intended for Mobile Use: Subtitling of Vertical Videos

When half of the world’s population owns a smartphone, there is an audience of billions ready to play, stream, learn and communicate via mobile devices. For this reason, a lot of media content is specifically intended and produced for smartphones. Vertical videos, in which the image is taller than wider, are an example of this. Their aspect ratio makes them fit naturally into the devices’ screen. To watch these videos, mobile users don’t need to turn the phone, which creates a more user-friendly experience.

If an app or platform that integrates vertical videos is going to be localized, the audiovisual material in it needs to be localized too. Translating vertical videos into different languages, as with any other media content, is crucial to expand the audience globally and create more committed viewers and, hence, customers. To achieve this goal, subtitling can be a very useful and versatile solution.

Mobile and Localized

Vertical videos are now part of social media apps, such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. They are also utilized in streaming or video-based services, like Netflix’s previews or even YouTube, where some artists release their latest music videos in vertical and horizontal format. Lastly, we can find them on other kinds of mobile apps that have videos integrated, say delivery, mobile gaming or e-learning apps. These can include, for instance, advertisements, cutscenes or instructional videos in vertical format.

Subtitling can help localize all this content, with very favorable effects. First, subtitles in the same language as the audio are an accessibility resource for hard of hearing users. They also allow viewers to watch the video without sound, which is a common practice among mobile users. On the other hand, translated subtitles help content and products reach a global audience; they make content available to many more viewers around the world.

But to take the best advantage of this media localization solution, it’s worth noting some format considerations.

Vertical Fit

Technical specifications for subtitling vertical videos are mostly the same as for regular subtitles. Line breaks rules, subtitle duration or reading speed parameters don’t vary within image width. However, subtitles for vertical videos should fit in a more narrow screen. Because of this, the subtitler must evaluate the safe area and make adjustments accordingly. A safe area is a portion of the screen where subtitles are safely displayed. In that space, the whole text shows properly on the screen, allowing comfortable reading. In order to achieve this, subtitles for vertical videos can have a reduced character per line limit: from the standard 37-42 to 32-37 characters per line. Also, it’s possible to use smaller fonts to fit the text into the more narrow aspect ratio.


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Creado el: 09/02/2021
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

Localization Moves to the Studio: About Voice-Over Services

Content is king and the localization industry offers multiple mediums to serve it. From translation to transcreation, from subtitling to dubbing, language service providers have fitting solutions to localize audiovisual materials. Throughout marketing campaigns, streaming platforms, e-learning courses, just to name a few, translation is crucial because audiences and markets flourish when content is available in the users’ languages.

Media localization solutions have different outcomes, workflows, schedules and budgets. For example, subtitling or captioning can be cheaper and faster than recording voice-over tracks, since the process of producing and reviewing it doesn’t require studio sessions. However, localizing voices with native talents can result in a more engaging experience for the audience. This is why voice-over services are sometimes the ideal ally for campaigns, videos or courses.

Off-screen narration

Voice-over is the simplest way of localizing audio recordings. It’s mostly used for documentaries, e-learning courses, and instructional and institutional videos when there is an off-screen voice. The process’ deliverable is an audio track recorded by a voice talent, that can be male or female depending on client’s preference. 

Most voice-over projects don’t require major audio editions. But sometimes the audio track needs to be synchronized with scenes or other tracks, such as music. Because of this, and in order to ensure high-quality results, a skilled audio or video editor supervises the recording process.

Furthermore, the translation of the script for voice-over tracks must beware of sentence length, since ideally, the target text should be of the same extension as the source text. If not, the translated audio may be longer than the original material, and the talent would need to read it with increased speed.

Voice and acting

Other audiovisual materials, like movies, series, video games or advertising, need more detailed audio localization. In those cases, dubbing is a more appropriate solution, because its outcome enables immersion by recreating the original audio. An expert translator adapts the script taking into account actors’ lip movements and line duration. Moreover, voice talents are actors or are specialized in dubbing. 

Given that the audio should be adapted to the actor’s expressions and actions on screen, dubbing implies a very thorough process of edition and revision. A reviewer checks the final product line by line to ensure the text fits perfectly into movements or scenes. 

Quality-driven

It may seem at plain sight that voice-over and dubbing services only involve recording sessions. But it’s actually a process that also entails localization and several instances of revision. For example, once translated, reviewers check the script extensively before recording to avoid introducing errors in the voice track. Furthermore, audio editors revise the material and verify compliance with any technical requirements. And finally, the recording is checked for errors in pronunciation, syntax or audio edition.

With all these factors in the scene, one thing is for sure. The right media localization solution combined with a quality-driven workflow will secure optimal translated content for the audience out there.


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Creado el: 24/11/2020
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

The Toolbox for Subtitling

Subtitling is a media localization solution that requires proficiency in two different fields. First, the text in the subtitle must be a linguistically correct and culturally accurate translation of the source audio or text.

With the purpose of delivering optimal subtitles, audiovisual translators and subtitlers can access resources to guide their jobs, such as software, specifications or reference materials. These are also quality assurance tools that guarantee that the delivered file is consistent, accurate and in agreement with all the client’s parameters and specifications. We’ll describe some of the resources that support audiovisual projects here.

1. Software

Reliable software is a key resource for subtitling. On one hand, it helps to automate several aspects of the job and, on the other, it’s a tool to ensure quality. Professional programs can be configured with parameters (such as line limit, reading speed, shot change preference) and they run QA analysis based on them. 

There are free software options, such as Aegisub, SubtitleEdit or Subtitle Workshop. Other programs must be purchased (by a one-time payment or a monthly subscription), like EZTitles, SubtitleNEXT or WinCAPs. Certain applications support more file formats than others, or handle more complex workflows. They synchronize subtitles to shot changes automatically, or they show the audio waveform. Others are lighter applications that don’t include these features. The choice depends on every need.

2. Guidelines

Technical and stylistic guidelines are the first touchstone for a consistent and accurate subtitling project. Depending on the transmission support (streaming platform, web pages, theatres, television, etc.), subtitles must have certain technical specifications, like length or aspect. Compliance with requested requirements is very important in subtitling, because it has consequences in layout, video aspect and reading.

 A complete project guide specifies the following preferences:

  • Subtitle type/style
  • Frame rate
  • Reading speed
  • Character limit
  • Shot change or audio wave compliance
  • Font and position

Also, style guidelines are a useful resource when translating or preparing the text of the subtitles, providing linguistic criteria of client’s preference. For instance, guides specify how to handle proper names and numbers, speaker’s IDs or audio in a foreign language. They also set preferences, if any, for punctuation, italics or letter case. 

3. KNP and Query Sheets 

Another very common tool in subtitling projects are KNP (key names and phrases) sheets. They are online collaborative documents. In them, subtitlers write down proposed translations and information for characters’ names, places, institutions, catchphrases or any other relevant term in the series or movie. The team can also register if characters interact with formal or informal tone. This comes in very handy to translate dialogues while maintaining consistency. 

KNP sheets are widely used in projects where several providers work simultaneously in related material, because they promote consistency. Furthermore, this resource is helpful for data collection. The information is utilized to ensure consistent translation and treatment across other media localization products, such as dubbing, marketing materials or web content. For collaborative projects, query sheets are also useful. There, translators can ask each other questions or clarify doubts with clients.


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Creado el: 10/08/2020
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

A Doorway to Subtitling: Open or Closed. About Subtitling Types and Styles

On the internet we can watch a movie, read the news, explore endless options of items to purchase, order food and even take online courses, among countless other actions. We have access to that content (text, video, images, audio) across the globe because, in most cases, it is available in different languages. This is possible due to media localization, a process that not only involves the translation of text or audio but also other services, such as subtitling, graphic design, web design, audio recording, etc.

Specifically, for translating e-learning courses and audiovisual material, subtitling is a very common resource. But there are many types and styles of subtitling available when deciding how to translate content, depending on every need. The most important distinction is between closed captioning and open subtitling, because their aspect, audience and function are different.

1) Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning is a specific type of subtitle, an accessibility resource. Its function is, primarily, to make content available to people who have hearing impairments. In real-time captioning (used in live shows or news programs), online subtitlers create a caption of what is being said so people can read it. They type, use a dictation software or a stenography system. Also, it is possible to generate a caption file offline, with pre-recorded material.

Some of the Closed Caption characteristics are the following:

  • It includes sound effects, such as [laugh], [music], [thunder].
  • They can be turned on or off with a remote control (in TV systems).
  • Audio language and text language are the same. 
  • It’s widely used in e-learning courses, streaming platforms and TV.
  • Text is displayed on a black background.
  • It’s also useful where silence is required (offices, waiting rooms) or as a hearing support (to learn languages, bad audio quality).

2) Open Subtitling

Open Subtitling is the most common type of subtitling, the one we can find in movies or programs in foreign languages. Its function is to translate source text and audio into another language.

However, SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing) are a type of open subtitle that has another purpose. They have the same function as Closed Captioning but look like common subtitles.

The main characteristics of open subtitling are the following:

  • In traditional TV systems or theatres, subtitles cannot be turned off, because they are embedded in the video.
  • Subtitles are displayed without a contrasting background.
  • Audio language and text language are different: it’s a translation.
  • In SHD, audio and text language are the same.
  • SDH have sound effects and speakers’ identification.

Rules and Guidelines

Before working on a subtitling task, it’s important to know if the project has any technical parameters,  as well as preferences about subtitling type and style, speakers’ IDs treatment and letter case. 

Furthermore, subtitlers must comply with the specifications provided in customers’ style guides, if any, which set style and technical expectations for the captioned or translated text.

As we can see, there are a lot of options when looking for a media localization solution. All of these promote inclusion while helping clients’ audiences expand one subtitle at a time.


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Creado el: 04/05/2020
Creado por: Jacqueline De Marco

How the 2020 Boom in Streaming Affects Audiovisual Translation Needs

I stream, you stream, we all stream everything! Across the globe people have come together by staying apart in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing can limit our entertainment options to ones we can find easily in the home which has led to an uptick in relying on streaming services to pass the time. Let’s take a quick look at why more people are streaming than ever before and how this affects audiovisual translation needs.

The Need to Stream

During past U.S. crises, we’ve seen television usage increase by 60%, according to Nielsen data. It’s no surprise that a crisis that has forced millions of people into their homes for extended periods of time is expected to increase that percentage. From television shows to movies to news broadcasts, entertainment as well as vital updates come straight from streaming services. Streaming was already on the rise before the pandemic and will likely remain that way after life resumes to normal. Before social distancing began, Americans consumed just shy of 12 hours of content each day through media platforms.

Global Content is a Must

Thanks to the massive success of foreign television programs and movies, like Academy Award winning movie Parasite, consumers are becoming increasingly receptive to viewing foreign content. It’s fair to assume that with more and more time on our hands at home, viewers will be even more open to widening their horizons and exploring content from foreign creators. Due to cinema closures and film delays, experts are estimating that the film industry alone may experience $5 billion in losses. In order to increase revenue, content creators should consider upping their audiovisual translation game to cast as wide of a viewer net as possible for potential streaming purchases. 

Where Audiovisual Translation Comes In

Audiovisual translation helps transfer the verbal components of audiovisual works, such as movies and television programs, into another language. Theatrical plays, web pages, and video games also utilize audiovisual translation efforts. Audiovisual content is intended to be both seen and heard simultaneously which brings unique translation challenges to the table. Not to mention, cultural references and wordplay often require a skilled translator to deliver the intended original meaning in a culturally correct context to the audience. Whether that be through subtitles or dubbed content. 

In order to best bridge the gap between not just languages, but cultures, entertainment producers will want to work with talented audiovisual translators who can help their story come to life clearly and appropriately for audiences who not only speak a different language, but who live in different cultures. To do so, they will want to work with a transcreator who can maintain the original message, context, and emotion of the source content. Transcreated content is customized to adapt to the culture, slang and dialect of the target audience. Taking these extra steps can increase access to content across the globe, which is something that benefits everyone.


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Creado el: 24/02/2020
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

Subtitling Challenges: Cultural References and Wordplays

Subtitling for streaming platforms implies translating content that will be distributed to a very large audience. For on-demand sites, Spanish subtitles are available globally, even in countries where it’s not an official language. Given that the target text should be understood by Spanish speakers across many countries, translating wordplays and cultural references is a task for skilled audiovisual translators only.

While this challenge may also be common to other localization tasks, translating subtitles has another specific and crucial characteristic. They are moving text that doesn’t stay long on the screen, and depending on the media (TV, cinema, on-demand platforms) they cannot be re-read. Thus, the translated text should be effective and as easy and fast to understand as possible.   

Cultural references: challenge accepted

Sometimes, dialogues refer to very specific aspects of the culture of origin of the show, such as cultural products, personalities, food, brands or institutions. Whether to localize them or not should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Leaving the reference as is or translating it literally may leave all the audience to not understand the reference, but adapting it may result in losing some of the original meaning. A skilled audiovisual translator will know which reference is better to leave unlocalized, and which is better to translate or adapt by choosing a similar but not equivalent referent in the target culture, among other available strategies. The translator will decide what is more effective and useful for each situation. Technical requirements are also a factor that can restrict the choice of the target text.

For a better understanding of what cultural references are and how they are treated in subtitles, we can analyze samples of some strategies, for example, in the Spanish LA subtitles of Mad Men’s pilot. 

Screenshot
Source Text Lucky Strike here.
Translation Yo, Lucky Strike.
Used strategy Retention of the source reference as is.

 

Screenshot
Source Text Not just another Jewish department store?
Translation ¿No es otra tienda judía cualquiera? (“Store”)
Used strategy Generalization.

 

Screenshot
Source Text He left his manners back at the fraternity house.
Translation Olvidó sus modales en la universidad.  (“University, college”)
Used strategy Substitution of the source reference with a less specific one.

Pun intended

Comedies take the challenge to another level because they are also full of puns and jokes that are difficult to recreate accurately in other languages. The translator of the subtitles has to choose between a literal translation or adapt the joke in the best way possible. Creativity plays a major part in the task, since the translator invents equivalent jokes or wordplays in the target language. Let’s consider one example from BoJack Horseman (S01E01).

Screenshot
Source Text Hey.
-Where? I’d love hay.
Translation Hola. (“Hi”)
-¿Ola? Me encanta surfear. (“Waves? I love surfing”).
Used strategy Transcreation. The translation can recreate the wordplay based on the homophony
between the greeting and another word, and also relates to the character’s action.
However, to maintain the wordplay between the word (“hay”) and the fact of being a horse
was not possible.

A matter of consistency

Regardless of the strategy used to translate cultural references and jokes, maintaining consistency across episodes is crucial. In large team projects, KNP sheets (key names and phrases) are a very common resource. There, the linguistic team can register proposed translations for names, cultural references or jokes, in order to maintain a consistent criterion.


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Creado el: 13/01/2020
Creado por: Marisol Pérez Laglaive

Behind the Scenes: The Producer, The Director… The Subtitler

A Spanish-speaking audience lives in a world surrounded by translated content— from books to user manuals, websites to advertisements. The localization process that made these materials available is not always visible. But when watching a subtitled movie or a TV show, we take notice of the translation’s textual process because the source text (the audio) and the translation (the subtitles) are simultaneously present before us.  

Therefore, the job of audiovisual translators has salient visibility. Translating movie or TV show dialogue is subject to the same constraints of other localization tasks (semantic challenges, large volumes or tight deadlines). It also has specific technical requirements that only audiovisual translators master professionally. 

Common technical requirements: line limit and reading-speed limit

Sometimes the text in subtitles is not a literal translation or may seem shorter than the dialogue. This is mostly on account of two important requirements that restrict the translation of audiovisual products. The first is the line limit, which sets how many characters each line must have for a subtitle event. The range typically varies from 32 to 42 characters per line, therefore, a long sentence or idea must be rephrased in a shorter version. In this case, the audiovisual translator can choose either a shorter but non-literal translation that catches the core meaning of the original or they may crop some words out.

The second constraint on subtitling text is the reading speed limit. Generally, for a positive viewing experience, the reading speed is around 17 characters per second (CPS) for adult programs and 13 CPS for children programs with a flexibility of around 30 percent give or take. This can change according to the genre of the TV show. For example, in unscripted shows like reality TV, a higher value can be admitted such as 20 CPS because they tend to have faster dialogues.

Audio wave or shot change preferences

Depending on the clients’ requirements, subtitles must be synchronized (or “timecoded”) to mirror the  exact length the dialogue lasts (so it’s timecoded to match the audio) or to fit in scenes. Therefore it’s preferable if subtitles begin to display when the scene starts and finish when there is a shot change. The sequence is more immersive and, hence, better for viewing experience. This practice is actually Netflix’s preference. 

These conditions may also restrict the task of translating. The linguist needs to catch the semantic and pragmatic meaning of the source text and also fit the subtitle according to the scene or the audio wave. 

Why hire professional audiovisual translators?

Considering these requirements (only a few of the specifications an audiovisual project may have), we can see that audiovisual translators master both creative and technical skills. In addition to the task of translating text, they have to be proficient in the software application they use to comply with all the requirements and deliver the highest quality in every project.

Some visual examples

32 characters per line as limit
42 characters per line as limit
Bad line break

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