One of the most frequently asked questions on the internet when it comes to subtitling is, ‘How can I translate subtitles to a movie’. This is a good question because having subtitles translated means videos are more accessible to an audience that does not speak the source language.
The majority of online and broadcast video is SDH subtitled to adhere to accessibility laws ensuring that video is accessible to and audience with hearing loss. Most video production companies will already know whether they need to have their videos subtitled. Any subtitle translations are usually carried out post production and prior to distribution. However, sometimes subtitles are requested in additional languages to cater to a wider audience, especially if a film or video is being rereleased.
Subtitles should always be created in the source language of the film or video. This ensures that the timings are correct and that the text is being displayed in sync with the words spoken. Once timings have been established and the text added to the subtitle file, it is then complete and ready to be displayed onscreen. The best way to translate subtitles is to then replace the source language text with the target language text.
When replacing the source text in a subtitle file with a translation, it is important to ensure that the translated text is written by an experienced linguist. Creating a high quality subtitle file is not about replacing source text with a translated version; it is about using the context of the video or film and writing the translation according to the target audience. For example, while a news item or documentary would be translated into a very literal translation of the original speech, a good linguist would always take into account tone, style and content in order to create subtitles that are as close to the original tone as possible. This will include proper subtitle localisation according to the target audience area.
From a layout point of view, the translated subtitles should be written in such a way that they are as easy to read as possible. This means that there should be no more than two lines of text displayed at once and the text should be large enough to read easily. The translated text should also be written in such a way to avoid excess text and be as concise as possible while keeping the original tone and style of the dialogue, avoiding line breaks if possible.
Translated subtitles can also include non verbal cues and this is especially important for accessibility to viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Subtitles. This is often referred to as SDH subtitles, closed captioning or open captioning.
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