Translation and subtitling of films: how does it work?

Translation in audiovisual productions and steps to follow for effective subtitling

Unless you speak a foreign language, film translation is what makes it possible for you to understand the story of an audiovisual production.

Most major productions are adapted to other languages. However, how does subtitling work? How do subtitles follow characters’ lines without delay? What role does the translator play? Find the answers below.

Learn more about the skills of a subtitler

Mastering the language to be translated is not the only requirement a subtitler has to meet to be able to stay true to the original script.

Professionals in this field must be familiar with the cinematographic language, be able to express themselves in different aspects of the target language, master the research tools necessary for the task, know a little about audio and video editing, pay due attention to all details, and also follow the required standards.

In other words, subtitling is not restricted to translation only; interpreting the scene as a whole is key.

After all, some cultural differences have no other forms of expression, but need to be conveyed to viewers with its original meaning, being easily interpreted by the audience.

In addition, subtitlers must follow a maximum character limit per second, which in Brazil is fifteen characters on average.

How to choose a good agency for translation and subtitling

The first step is to carry out a survey and identify the best producer for your project. Depending on the subject to be translated, there is a specification to be followed.

Therefore, if your project needs a sworn translation in the medical, economic or technological fields, for example, you have to look for an agency that has similar jobs in its portfolio.

Then, file a quote request detailing the required service and the desired delivery time.

There are agencies with many years of experience in the market that will be able to meet your demand.

The film translation and subtitling process

Film translation begins when the producer receives a request for subtitling. Based on this, experts working on the Brazilian version are selected according to how much they master the subject being addressed.

In an organized way, the translation and subtitling process is divided into three stages:

  • Translation;
  • Marking;
  • Proofreading.

First of all, translators and producers are usually given access to the scenes and script so that they can remain as loyal as possible to the original product.

When the translation is ready, the film is watched to determine the entry and exit points of each subtitle, which is called timing. There is even a professional assigned to this function, the marker.

This professional is also responsible for setting the correct subtitling software in the correct position and when each subtitle should appear or disappear from the screen.

Once the translation is ready, in the proofreading stage, it needs to undergo some grammar review and adjustments to ensure the subtitles will work in sync and with consistency.

Curiosities about film translation

It seems a little distant to imagine how translation worked for the cinema in the past. See some interesting facts below:

  • At the beginning of spoken cinema, films were recorded in all languages of the countries in which they would be released. The actors waited to perform every scene again.
  • In the 1980s, subtitling was made on squared paper – so that they did not go beyond the limits of the screen – and were typed only afterwards.
  • Dubbing production costs ten times more than the subtitling process for the same material.

In addition, whether it is for the translation of films, books or even documents, having an experienced translation agency is key to guarantee the quality of your product.

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