A subtitle is a simultaneous transcription or translation of dialogues during a film. They usually appear at the bottom of the screen but may appear on top in some cases. They appear as vertical lines in Japanese movies and videos. The primary motive of subtitling is not only helping people to enjoy a video in another language. But also helping people who are deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy them as well.
Types of subtitles
Subtitles are of two types on the basis of creation: Hard subtitles and soft subtitles. Hard subtitles are already present in videos. There is no way to hide or disable them. Generally, production teams of movies and serials use hard subtitling. They encode the subtitle texts into the video so that they are a part of it. Examples of hard subtitling can be the opening and ending credits in movies and serials. On the other hand, Subtitlers insert soft subtitles separately into a video. They are available in different file formats. People can add, hide or remove soft subtitles for a video at will. Common soft subtitle file formats include SRT, XML, SUB, SBV etc.
Moreover, subtitling has two types on the basis of use: Intralingual subtitling and Interlingual subtitling.
Intralingual subtitling has its main use to benefit people who are deaf or are hard of hearing. Here, the language remains the same but the mode of sharing the message changes in the form of subtitles.
Whereas, Interlingual subtitling benefits people who do not the language of the video but want to watch it. Here, the language as well as the mode of sharing the message changes.
Interlingual subtitling is a little different from translation of documents. It is also very different from transcription of video files. Subtitling has different constraints that need to be taken care of. These constraints mainly fall into two categories: Textual and Formal. Textual constraints include the need to shorten the subtitle translations, to make it relevant to the context of the video. And it also includes the skill to break sentences into multiple parts depending on the audio of an audio-visual content.
Whereas formal constraints are rules include the maximum number of lines, the number of characters per line, the reading speed of a subtitle. It also includes synchronization of subtitles with dialogues, the minimum and maximum time duration per subtitle. There are many other formal as well as textual constraints that should be kept in mind.
What should be the qualities of an ideal subtitle translator?
- A subtitle translator should be a language expert. He/she should not only know the words and phrases of a language but he/she should also be able to pick up the meaning of a context even when it is not known to him/her correctly.
- A subtitle translator should be accurate, precise and fast. He should know when to give attention to details and when not to. Since movies and serials contain dialogues and scenes in a variety of tones, accents, tempo as well as meanings, he/she should have a good focus.
- A good subtitling translator should be able to manage time better than a regular translator. Since there are a lot of factors that need attention while subtitling, he/she should be able to analyze the time needs of different subtitling projects. For example, action movies are generally easier to subtitle than detective movies. Similarly, detective movies are easier to subtitle than romantic movies.
- He/she should be experienced with various subtitling software. There are various options and tools in subtitling software which help assist a translator to translate a subtitle. This is beneficial to the subtitler as it allows him/her to complete work in a smart and time efficient manner.
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