Subtitles have become the norm for many viewers. In fact, four out of five people aged 18-24 report using subtitles all the time. Today, we’re looking at what makes subtitles high-quality, including subtitle translation and best practices.
Why is subtitle translation important?
Video content is undeniably important. Today, YouTube is the second most popular website worldwide. With competitors launching their own videos, streaming platforms, and more, businesses need to work out how to get the highest viewing figures.
Subtitles mean videos can be watched without sound. So, if someone is on the go, hard of hearing, or doesn’t have headphones, they can watch the video easily. Many social media websites automatically play videos without sound, too.
Subtitles also provide an important translation solution. Whether or not you decide to include a voiceover in the target (new) language, subtitles can be a cost-effective way of making videos accessible.
Avoiding common subtitling mistakes
Poor subtitles can be jarring for viewers. Not only do they make a video difficult to understand, but they are also distracting and detract from the quality of the content.
Some common mistakes are more likely to occur when subtitles are created by non-experts. Here’s how to avoid them for professional results.
Time your subtitles
Subtitles should appear on screen at the right time so that it’s clear who is speaking. Sometimes, colors can be used to show different speakers, too. Whatever house style you choose, make sure that there is the right amount of text on screen, at the right time. It’s easiest to read a complete sentence rather than chunks of text that flash up on screen for short periods.
Don’t block out important elements
Have you ever noticed how subtitles jump to the top of the screen during opening credit sequences? That’s because on-screen text and graphics shouldn’t be obscured by subtitles. Likewise, subtitles need to be the right size, readable but not in the way.
When it comes to creative content, direct translations usually sound jarring. This is usually true for subtitle translations, often because of idioms, cultural references, slang, or more. People don’t speak the same way in every language.
Localization is the process of adapting text so that it suits the new audience both culturally and linguistically. The aim is for the meaning to be properly conveyed in the new language, with the same impact, even if this means expressing an idea slightly differently.
The most important skills for professional subtitle translators
Subtitles often need to be created quickly so that videos can be distributed to a wide audience. But that doesn’t mean compromising on quality. The best subtitle professionals can work both swiftly and accurately.
A good understanding of language and culture
When it comes to subtitle translation, professionals need to have an in-depth knowledge of both the source (original) and target (translated) languages. This means not only speaking to them, but understanding nuances in formality, slang, dialects, and more to get the right tone and convey meaning accurately.
Video content could be on any subject, which means a subtitler will inevitably encounter terminology or entire fields that they are less familiar with. Strong research skills and preparation help subtitle translators to overcome language obstacles.
Finding the right subtitle translation team
Finding the right team of subtitlers can be daunting, especially when you don’t speak the target language and need to rely on the quality of the work. Luckily, there are experienced professionals who can help.
Future Trans is a language services provider with over 25 years of experience. We specialize in helping businesses connect with audiences across the MENA region. We work to the highest standards so you can be confident in the translations you receive.