Best Precises for Subtitling as a Localization Process

In an increasingly globalized world, the need for accessible and comprehensible content has never been higher. For businesses, filmmakers, and educators aiming to reach international audiences, it’s essential to ensure that their videos are not only audible but also understandable to non-native speakers. This is where subtitling and localization come into play. For procurers of subtitling services, understanding this process is crucial to achieving a seamless transition from one language to another.

1. Introduction to Subtitling

Subtitling is more than just translating spoken words into text. It’s a meticulous process that demands precision, cultural understanding, and technical know-how. When done right, subtitles allow viewers to engage with video content seamlessly, without feeling detached due to language barriers.

2. The Initial Phase: Transcription

The journey of subtitling begins with transcription of the source video which will be subtitled. Here, every spoken word, sound effect, and relevant audio cue from the video is converted into written text. This step is essential to ensure accuracy in translation. If a script of the video already exists, this phase can be bypassed, speeding up the process.

3. Time-Coding: Bridging Audio with Text

Once the transcription is ready, the next step is time-coding. This involves aligning each text segment with the corresponding segment of the audio. The outcome is a time-coded .srt file, which indicates when each subtitle should appear and disappear on screen. Proper time-coding ensures that viewers read subtitles synchronously with the audio, preventing any confusion or misinterpretation.

4. Translation: The Heart of Localized Subtitles

With a time-coded .srt file in hand, the translation begins. This step is crucial and requires expert translators who are fluent in both the source and target languages. Beyond linguistic expertise, cultural nuances, idioms, and colloquialisms need to be taken into account to ensure the translated content resonates with the target audience.

5. Video Integration and Formatting

After translation, the new .srt file is integrated into the video using specialized video editing software such as Adobe Premiere. But it’s not just a matter of embedding text. The subtitles must be correctly formatted, sized, and adjusted to fit the screen’s dimension, ensuring legibility without obstructing the video’s visuals. Adjustments may involve changing font sizes, altering colors, or even repositioning to optimize the viewer’s experience.

6. On-Screen Text Localization

While dialogues and narrations are often the primary focus, one can’t overlook the ‘On Screen Text.’ This includes any text that appears within the video, such as captions, graphics, or infographics. Localizing these elements is a separate task and sometimes demands a different approach.
If the on-screen text is embedded within the video and not separate graphic layers, it requires “image translation.” In this method, the original text within the image or video frame is replaced with its translated counterpart without compromising the visual aesthetics. For a deeper understanding of image translation, please refer to image translation explained. The approach taken is determined whether or not the original video source ‘work files’ are provided from the original content creator, or as in most cases, the source video is provided in for instance .mp4 format only.

7. The Importance of Quality Control

The final step, but by no means the least important, is quality control. After all processes are completed, the subtitled video undergoes rigorous checks. This ensures that there are no synchronization issues, mistranslations, or formatting errors. A smooth viewer experience hinges on this crucial step.

Subtitling and localization are intricate processes that demand attention to detail, cultural sensitivity, and technical expertise. For procurers of these services, understanding each step ensures better communication with service providers, leading to videos that resonate authentically with global audiences. As we venture further into the digital age, the power of accessible and localized content will only grow, making subtitling an invaluable tool in bridging cultural divides.