Subtitling can be a tough business and writing, timing and translation of subtitles and captions takes a huge level of skill and experience. Small mistakes or oversights can have a big impact on the viewers understanding and enjoyment. Here are some of the things to look out for when translating subtitles.

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Bad Subtitle Splits

When working in your native language with the ability to directly check writing against audio, it’s easy to split the text in a sensible place, especially where there are sporadic long pauses but working with a translated subtitle, this can be tough especially where sentence structure has to be adapted.

Subtitle Character Lines Too Long

some languages are more compact than others. If translating English into froeign subtitles, it’s likely trying to work on a line by line basis will result in some very long subtitles which may not display well on the screen. Consider using a two line approach to revolve this, where more compact languages use one line and longer ones use two.

Translation by Software

As we all know, translation software can be useful as an aid but little else. When working with subtitle translations, sentences are split and his can throw off translation software which instead of using knowledge, understanding and initiative, uses algorithms for words commonly used together to sort between homophones. Without full sentences to work on in a traditional sense, automated subtitle translation can be disastrous.

Subtitling Formatting Issues

Especiially when working with simple formats such as .srt subtitles, foreign characters can be difficult. It’s important when translating subtitles to ensure the correct coding is used within your software to display foreign characters, e.g. ANSI or UTF-8. If the wrong coding is used for foreign subtitles, some characters may be replaced by symbols or worse still, your whole subtitle file may display as nothing by a mass of question marks!
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