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Translation Subtitling: Bringing DVD and videos to a worldwide audience 2002 IMS - Company Profile Independent Media Support (IMS) was established in 1989

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ims company profile
IMS - Company Profile
  • Independent Media Support (IMS) was established in 1989
  • Started translation subtitling for broadcast in 1993. IMS currently undertakes translation subtitling projects in up to 33 languages, including all European languages, Arabic and Hebrew. Plus minority languages such as Gaelic, Welsh, Basque, Catalan and Galician
  • Among the main clients: Paramount, Buena Vista, Artsworld, Disney, Channel 5 and Sky
  • Over 130 permanent staff in eight locations throughout the UK, plus vast number of freelancers
  • Offices in London, Newcastle, Wales and Ireland
  • Devised subtitling university course at Newcastle Northumbria University
ims services
IMS - Services
  • Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • In-vision signing for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio description for the blind and partially sighted
  • Translation subtitling
  • QC of translations (DVD check disks etc.)
  • Translation of documentation/marketing materials
subtitling historical background
Subtitling - Historical Background
  • Silent Movies: virtually no dialogue
  • Intertitles: dialogue in written form recorded onto individual frames of film
  • Intertitles could easily be cut out, translated and spliced back to create continuous film reel, thus native and foreign audiences equally catered for
  • 1930s: The rise of talking movies created problems for the international circulation of films
  • Solutions: dubbing, voiceover and subtitling
dubbing and voiceover vs subtitling
Dubbing and Voiceover vs. Subtitling
  • Dubbing: creation of second soundtrack to a film, using native actors to re-record the dialogue. Popular in Spain, Italy, Germany
  • Issues:
    • High costs
    • Mismatching dialogue/lip movement
    • Loss of original actor’s pacing/tone
  • Voiceover: one voiceover artist covers all characters. Popular in Russia and Poland
  • Issues:
    • Difficult to follow dialogue
    • Loss of original actor’s pacing/tone
  • Other countries like Holland and Scandinavia opted for subtitling instead
subtitle creation technical requirements
Subtitle Creation - Technical Requirements
  • Use of specific subtitling software: variety of systems on the market (WinCAPS, Win2020, Swift, PM Win, Scantitling etc.), but all work in a similar way
  • Subtitle files created by playing the video (tape or video clip stored on a server) and capturing the in- and out-times of the dialogue, then capturing the dialogue itself and reviewing the finished product by simulating the subtitles on the video screen
  • Subtitling is more than “just” timing, typing and reviewing:
    • Research (spelling of proper names, place names, trademark names etc.)
    • Editing skills (to convey the same nuance of meaning with less words and to fit subtitles between shot changes)
    • Fast turnaround times
  • It takes over a year for subtitlers to be fully trained and up-to-speed
subtitling media formats
Subtitling - Media Formats
  • Subtitling used for variety of media: Cinema, DVD, Video, Television
  • Each media requires a different format of subtitles/different procedures to finalise subtitles
  • Cinema: subtitles etched via laser technology onto master screen print
  • Video: subtitles burnt-in or embedded onto master tape
  • Television: subtitles burnt-in or embedded onto master tape or subtitle file transmitted at the time of programme transmission
subtitling for dvd
Subtitling for DVD
  • Subtitles on DVD are sub-pictures
  • Final product delivered to Authoring House (who are responsible for producing the actual DVD): picture of each single subtitle in tiff or bmp format together with a so-called parameter file containing info about timing, colour and placement of subtitles
  • A DVD can hold up to 32 streams of subtitles - each stream can be one language. Our usual set goes up to 24 languages
  • A standard feature film can contain around 1000 subtitles, i.e. we are producing around 1000 tiff or bmp files per language stream
translating subtitles restrictions
Translating Subtitles - Restrictions
  • When translating subtitles, the most important thing to remember is that you cannot translate what is said exactly as it is said
  • Time Restrictions:
    • Reading speed: the viewer cannot read as fast as they can hear and should be able to read the text while watching (and enjoying) the film at the same time
    • Scene and shot changes as well as chapter breaks need to be taken into account
  • Space Restrictions:
    • Two lines per subtitle
    • Dialogue: One speaking character per line
    • Amount of characters (incl. spaces) per line
    • TV safe area restrictions
translating subtitles editing options
Translating Subtitles - Editing Options
  • Editing options:
    • Re-wording
      • He wanted to travel to a country he had never visited.

Can be changed to:

      • He wanted to visit a new country.
    • Omission
      • Names and titles (once they’ve been established at the beginning of the film)
      • Double use of modifiers (e.g. “boiling hot” can be changed to “sizzling”)
      • Superfluous expressions (e.g. “well”, “man”, “you know”)
      • Repetitions (e.g. “Oh my god. Oh my god.”)
translating subtitles reference to video
Translating Subtitles - Reference to video
  • Before starting to translate, you should always watch the film first in order to:
    • Establish the register/tone of the whole film and each character in particular
    • Establish the relationship between characters to decide on form of address (“Sie/du” etc.)
    • Establish meaning of key phrases repeated throughout the film
  • During the process of translation, the relevant film section should be watched in conjunction with the translation to avoid mistranslations (e.g. “Did you catch something?”)
  • The final translation should be checked against the video again to ensure everything matches the action on screen. It should also be proof-read on paper to ensure that the translation does not contain any typographical mistakes and that everything reads properly and makes sense
  • Every translation should be checked by a second native speaker, and the final product proof-read on paper
  • For further information please contact:

Sylvia Huebner

Translation Manager

Independent Media Support

21 Soho Square



Tel: 020 7440 5400

Fax: 020 7440 5410