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Ask me anything about subtitling
Thread poster: Max Deryagin

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
Standards vary from one country to another, and from one market to another May 11, 2018

This is moving far from subtitling, however I think - though I may be wrong - that a subtitling translator should have a reasonable awareness on dubbing, since both are close akin. Quite often the same video is dubbed AND subbed in the same language, as cable TV/DVD/streaming distributors offer both options.

Sylvano wrote:
José, you've obviously never done voice-over for documentaries, have you?


I've never done the "voice-over" itself, period. I am not a voice artist. Only once I directed a dubbing session, because it was a short corporate video in PT to be dubbed in EN, in Brazil. The story is longer, but I ended up selecting a Canadian narrator, two Brazilian voice artists. There was one two-liner role, which I did myself; wouldn't make an actor leave home to do just that, and nobody in the studio spoke EN, at least to an acceptable foreign accent-free level. I used the best from my eight (!) attempts, promising to never do it again.

I have translated maybe half a dozen documentaries for narration. They would be dubbed by one of the most experienced and famous dubbers I've met, who is also a translator, and I've seen how easy he works his way out of tight situations when translation is bad.

Sylvano wrote:
It's quite different from lipsynch dubbing for fiction... In voice-over, the original language will be toned down when speakers are on-screen with translation coming over it, while the original off narration is totally erased from the soundtrack (the client will have an international version, with on-screen speakers, sound effects and blank captions only).


What is generally labeled as VO has two different variants:

a) plain VO where "O" stands for OVER - The original soundtrack is left in. A split-second after the (original) "narrator" starts speaking, the original sound is lowered, and the "dubber" begins the translation, to end a split-second before the "narrator" ends, when the original sound is restored to its original level.
This process is quick, totally acceptable for news media on account of that. However in documentaries it is a clear giveaway of a low budget, cheap work. The advantage is that there is no need to re-create the M+E (music & sound effects), which at times may be expensive.

b) dubbed VO where "O" stands for OFF(-camera) - The narrator is never visible onscreen, and the entire soundtrack is rebuilt. It's like dubbing, however there are no lips to sync. The dubber is paid as "narrator" and - it beats me why - the Brazilian dubbers union prescribes higher rates for "narrators" than (lip-sync) "dubbers". Quite often the M+E has to be rebuilt from scratch, possibly with stock music. Now and then it is provided by the producer. In either case, it has to be remixed.

I'll refrain from including 'lectoring' here, though it's apparently still used in some Eastern European countries.

Sylvano wrote:
A few rules :
- you indicate the same TC-in as the start of the source language (the person in charge of the recording and dubbing actors will do the short initial pause themselves)
- you use distinct types for narration (in bold), off lines (italics, for telephone conversations, etc.) and 'live' lines


You got me here. In my specialty area (corporate video) it's the dubbing director who does the time-spotting, usually while analyzing the entire video and selecting the cast for each role. This will give them the chance to decide on shorter or longer "loops" (as I explained on my previous post) at each point, if and when there will be two dubbers together in the cabin (e.g. heated and quick argument), who will do "doubling" - if any (same dubber using different voices for one major role and up to two short, secondary roles - this is the limit per film, set by Brazilian regulations).

In a professional dubbing/VO studio in Brazil, there is always a dubbing director. Now and then a seasoned dubber self-directs while dubbing.

Dubbing is recorded in an anechoic chamber. We call it "dry dub". Each voice is recorded on a separate audio channel. Later an audio technician will apply environmental effects (e.g. outdoors, in a small/large room, over the phone, in a cave, etc.) while mixing them together with the M+E if available, or adding stock music and creating or using stock sound effects. It's up to this technician to decide, based on the original soundtrack, QC being up to the dubbing director.

Sylvano wrote:
- the pace and style of the translation is not the same for live action (people talking in 'real life' situations) and for settled interviews in front of camera or narration. The latter two should be about the same length as the original, while live action lines should always be a bit shorter than the original + narration and settled interviews are usually more formal in style and at a slower pace


My point is that VO speed shouldn't vary for no reason visible onscreen, just because some phrases got longer or wordier in the translation. It's up to the translator to rebuild the entire phrase to match size, e.g. when "custom-er needs" in EN becomes "ne-ces-si-da-des do cli-en-te" in PT.

Sylvano wrote:
- you indicate pronunciation for difficult/foreign terms (you usually have more of that in documentaries)


Always! You can't expect dubbers to be able to pronounce words properly in any human language.
However part of it is up to the dubbing director. Some people think that dubbing is done like soap operas in the live radio days, a row of microphones, one dubber in front of each. Most dubbers don't get a chance to watch the entire flick they are dubbing; only the spots where they come up.

Just one case of a director's slip I witnessed...
In EN we pronounce David as "day-vid". In PT we write it in the same way, however we say "dah-vee".
So once the end result - in PT (translated here) was:
"Good morning, my name is Dah-vee."
"My pleasure to meet you, Day-vid!"

Either one had to be redubbed.

Sylvano wrote:
- in voice-over, the translator usually handles the translation of graphics (maps, captions, etc.)


This varies a lot according to the supply chain. The translator will have to translate them, of course, however video editing may vary. While I can do video editing, if it involves animation I'll have to relay it to another guy.

Sylvano wrote:
But, again : before accepting a job offer, you either train yourself for the specific technique and/or you ask the client for guidance... Or you stick to what you know.


This is the key point. While one translator can often handle an entire subtitling job alone, dubbing always involves teamwork, where each team member will do what they know how to do best.


 

Thanasis Zadrimas
Greece
Local time: 18:55
English to Greek
Ιs it a common practice? May 28, 2018

Is it true that some subtitling companies or localization agencies tend to hire people without asking any resume or degree just by passing the Hermes Test or something?

 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:55
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- May 28, 2018

Thanassis Zadrimas wrote:

Is it true that some subtitling companies or localization agencies tend to hire people without asking any resume or degree just by passing the Hermes Test or something?


A small number of companies did that, but the Hermes test has been closed.

[Edited at 2018-05-28 16:30 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
You name it! (hiring procedures) May 28, 2018

Thanassis Zadrimas wrote:

Is it true that some subtitling companies or localization agencies tend to hire people without asking any resume or degree just by passing the Hermes Test or something?


Some companies will hire anyone accepting rates below a (low!) threshold, and payment terms far beyond what you'd include in the forthcoming future.

Other companies will require extensive tests, sometimes with their own online/offline software, specific file formats, aiming at both quality and compatibility (they don't want to waste time 'fixing' incompatible files).

And many of them are in the gray zone between these two extremes.


 

Thanasis Zadrimas
Greece
Local time: 18:55
English to Greek
about the agencies and we talked about before May 30, 2018

All I'm saying is that there are some people who usually make subtitles voluntarily in fansubbing communities who pride themselves on their own "subtitling school" -by degrading the level of the professional ones- and recruit new members who want to contribute in tv shows en cetera.

 

Josefina Pozzi  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 13:55
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ageisub vs EZ Titles Jul 6, 2018

Hello Max!
I have a lot of experience in the video world (regularly using platforms such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc) but I´m just entering into the world of subtitling
So I was just checking several subtitle editors. In this thread you recommended the Ageisub editor as a good choice to begin with but also said you are currently working with the EZ Titles program. My question is: what do the EZ Titles program do that Ageisub cannot? It´s simply a ma
... See more
Hello Max!
I have a lot of experience in the video world (regularly using platforms such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc) but I´m just entering into the world of subtitling
So I was just checking several subtitle editors. In this thread you recommended the Ageisub editor as a good choice to begin with but also said you are currently working with the EZ Titles program. My question is: what do the EZ Titles program do that Ageisub cannot? It´s simply a matter of preference or are there any usual professional needs you face regularly that Ageisub cannot deal with?
Thanks and all the best for you!
Collapse


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:55
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Jul 6, 2018

Josefina Pozzi wrote:

Hello Max!
I have a lot of experience in the video world (regularly using platforms such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc) but I´m just entering into the world of subtitling
So I was just checking several subtitle editors. In this thread you recommended the Ageisub editor as a good choice to begin with but also said you are currently working with the EZ Titles program. My question is: what do the EZ Titles program do that Ageisub cannot? It´s simply a matter of preference or are there any usual professional needs you face regularly that Ageisub cannot deal with?
Thanks and all the best for you!


Hi Josefina,

Aegisub was discontinued years ago, so it's not worth using unless you really know what you're doing. A much better free alternative for you would be Subtitle Edit, which is being actively developed. What EZTitles does is it provides customization, automation and robustness that help you work much faster and produce issue-free deliverables for professional workflows. So, if your client has a thousand different requirements for your subtitles in terms of segmentation, timing, formatting, encoding, etc., you can meet them either semi- or fully automatically on a tight deadline. It's a rather expensive piece of software, but I have yet to meet a single subtitler who'd be disappointed by it.

However, I think that if you're a beginner, it's better to start with a free tool to learn the ropes and see what you like and dislike about it, so that you can make an educated choice when (and if) you decide to purchase a pro subtitling tool.



[Edited at 2018-07-06 07:15 GMT]


 

Josefina Pozzi  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 13:55
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
If not Ageisub, which editor works fine for Mac? Jul 7, 2018

Max Deryagin wrote:

Josefina Pozzi wrote:

Hello Max!
I have a lot of experience in the video world (regularly using platforms such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc) but I´m just entering into the world of subtitling
So I was just checking several subtitle editors. In this thread you recommended the Ageisub editor as a good choice to begin with but also said you are currently working with the EZ Titles program. My question is: what do the EZ Titles program do that Ageisub cannot? It´s simply a matter of preference or are there any usual professional needs you face regularly that Ageisub cannot deal with?
Thanks and all the best for you!


Hi Josefina,

Aegisub was discontinued years ago, so it's not worth using unless you really know what you're doing. A much better free alternative for you would be Subtitle Edit, which is being actively developed. What EZTitles does is it provides customization, automation and robustness that help you work much faster and produce issue-free deliverables for professional workflows. So, if your client has a thousand different requirements for your subtitles in terms of segmentation, timing, formatting, encoding, etc., you can meet them either semi- or fully automatically on a tight deadline. It's a rather expensive piece of software, but I have yet to meet a single subtitler who'd be disappointed by it.

However, I think that if you're a beginner, it's better to start with a free tool to learn the ropes and see what you like and dislike about it, so that you can make an educated choice when (and if) you decide to purchase a pro subtitling tool.



[Edited at 2018-07-06 07:15 GMT]


Thank you for your answer Max, it´s crystal clear.
Didn´t know Ageisub was discontinued, I thought of it as a possibility as I currently work in a Mac environment. I´m finding a vast majority of the subtitle editors work only on Windows. Which one would you say is the best editor for Mac?
Thanks again!!


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:55
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Jul 7, 2018

Josefina Pozzi wrote:

Thank you for your answer Max, it´s crystal clear.
Didn´t know Ageisub was discontinued, I thought of it as a possibility as I currently work in a Mac environment. I´m finding a vast majority of the subtitle editors work only on Windows. Which one would you say is the best editor for Mac?
Thanks again!!


Oh, this changes everything! If you need a free solution, you can try Belle Nuit (it's a discontinued professional tool that's now free to use). If you're willing to pay up, I'd say Annotation Edit is the way to go (245 €).


 

Philippe Noth  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 17:55
Member (2015)
German to French
+ ...
Adjust durations allowed (for a documentary) ? Jul 28, 2018

Hi Max,
Hi everyone,

Until now I had never been interested to work for a subtitling project, because of the low rates and the transcription part, which I found extremely difficult the 2 or 3 times I tried. But I just made an exception for two shorts documentaries because


  • the source text (German SRT with timecodes) is provided and very good -> no transcription

  • precisely, the films are short (< 10 min)

  • it is about local h... See more
Hi Max,
Hi everyone,

Until now I had never been interested to work for a subtitling project, because of the low rates and the transcription part, which I found extremely difficult the 2 or 3 times I tried. But I just made an exception for two shorts documentaries because


  • the source text (German SRT with timecodes) is provided and very good -> no transcription

  • precisely, the films are short (< 10 min)

  • it is about local history of my own country -> interesting + I know what it is about

  • I have time to study and try something new during the week-end

So basically I just have to translate a SRT from German into French. But what about the constraint Characters per second -> 14 ? Am I allowed to change the timecode ? I read about the methods to shorten the text. But these short films are documentaries, like newsreels from the 1940s. I don't need to match an actor's lips. It seems more important to stick to the facts described by the commentary. Subtitle Edit has the function 'Adjust durations' with a field 'Max. chars/sec.", can I use it or is it taboo ?

Thanks for the great discussion in this thread.

Philippe
Collapse


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:55
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Jul 28, 2018

Philippe Noth wrote:

Hi Max,
Hi everyone,

Until now I had never been interested to work for a subtitling project, because of the low rates and the transcription part, which I found extremely difficult the 2 or 3 times I tried. But I just made an exception for two shorts documentaries because


  • the source text (German SRT with timecodes) is provided and very good -> no transcription

  • precisely, the films are short (< 10 min)

  • it is about local history of my own country -> interesting + I know what it is about

  • I have time to study and try something new during the week-end

So basically I just have to translate a SRT from German into French. But what about the constraint Characters per second -> 14 ? Am I allowed to change the timecode ? I read about the methods to shorten the text. But these short films are documentaries, like newsreels from the 1940s. I don't need to match an actor's lips. It seems more important to stick to the facts described by the commentary. Subtitle Edit has the function 'Adjust durations' with a field 'Max. chars/sec.", can I use it or is it taboo ?

Thanks for the great discussion in this thread.

Philippe


Hi Philippe,

Adjusting the timecodes to fit into the time constraint is standard practice — definitely not taboo — but it has to be done manually. That Subtitle Edit function can lead to issues like overlapping subtitles. Some clients will insist that you don't touch the timecodes, so please make sure you ask your client if they're fine with it.


Philippe Noth
 

Philippe Noth  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 17:55
Member (2015)
German to French
+ ...
Thanks, Max + bonus question Aug 2, 2018

Max Deryagin wrote:
Adjusting the timecodes to fit into the time constraint is standard practice — definitely not taboo — but it has to be done manually. That Subtitle Edit function can lead to issues like overlapping subtitles. Some clients will insist that you don't touch the timecodes, so please make sure you ask your client if they're fine with it.


Thanks, Max. As a beginner, it was tempting to adjust the timecodes to respect the spec given. However, as you predicted, the client said I did not have to do it. Good news!

My bonus question is: what is the easiest way to generate a bilingual file from 2 SRTs? I wish I had checked the translation in XBench because I noticed a typographic error after I delivered the file, but to do that I needed a bilingual format.

Philippe

[Edited at 2018-08-02 16:11 GMT]


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:55
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Aug 2, 2018

Philippe Noth wrote:

Max Deryagin wrote:
Adjusting the timecodes to fit into the time constraint is standard practice — definitely not taboo — but it has to be done manually. That Subtitle Edit function can lead to issues like overlapping subtitles. Some clients will insist that you don't touch the timecodes, so please make sure you ask your client if they're fine with it.


Thanks, Max. As a beginner, it was tempting to adjust the timecodes to respect the spec given. However, as you predicted, the client said I did not have to do it. Good news!

My bonus question is: what is the easiest way to generate a bilingual file from 2 SRTs? I wish I had checked the translation in XBench because I noticed a typographic error after I delivered the file, but to do that I needed a bilingual format.

Philippe


I don't think generating a bilingual file is the best approach. It's much easier to open both files in a subtitling tool and do the checking that way. What you can do is

1. Open Subtitle Edit
2. Go to File > Open...
3. Navigate to the translated SRT and open it.
4. Go to File > Open original subtitle (translator mode)...
5. Navigate to the source SRT and open it.

After that you'll have the source and target subtitles side by side in the list view, so that you can quickly check for errors.



[Edited at 2018-08-02 16:28 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
Subtitle Workshop Aug 2, 2018

Max Deryagin wrote:

I don't think generating a bilingual file is the best approach. It's much easier to open both files in a subtitling tool and do the checking that way. What you can do is

1. Download Subtitle Edit
2. Go to File > Open...
3. Navigate to the translated SRT and open it.
4. Go to File > Open original subtitle (translator mode)...
5. Navigate to the source SRT and open it.

After that you'll have the source and target subtitles side by side in the list view, so that you can quickly check for errors.


I am not recommending either one over the other, but Subtitle Workshop also has this feature.
Use
View | Columns | Translation
and you can have two subtitle files, side by side.


Oleksandr Vasyliev
 

StoyanovaT
Bulgaria
Local time: 18:55
Bulgarian to English
+ ...
Direct Translation? Aug 9, 2018

Hello colleagues,

I have a new enquiry for direct translation from audio.
Maybe it's a silly question but can someone explain what exactly "direct translation" means and what is expected from the translator.
Thank you in advance


 
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