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We all would be lost without streaming services, either Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, you name it. Most of times, the best content is created in languages different to our native language, so we all turn the subtitles on, even to understand the half-time Super Bowl commercials. If you speak more than one language and can understand the video in both the original audio and understand the subtitles, then you probably gave your opinion on whether the subtitling was good, bad or thought “I could have done a better job”. Amongst bilinguals and polyglots, this is a common judgment. However, things get a little more complicated when you are the one doing the translation. Granted, there are some jobs that are off the top bad, but we will not get into that right now.


Prior to even beginning with the translation of the script or the soundbites of a video or movie, there is quite a lot of preparation work that goes behind subtitling. Tasks such the transcription of the video in the original language in an specific format so, after translation, subtitles fit in your screen and even can be read in the few seconds they show before they disappear from the screen. We do not want you to end exhausted running after the letters just to understand a phrase in an exciting moment of the movie…


So, you get the idea, the work behind subtitling is not an easy one. There are many things that must be taken into consideration when being hired as a professional translator to subtitle a video. First, for movies and TV series, there is a lot of idiomatic and local expressions to be translated. Therefore, the text must be adapted to each different region of the word, or the criteria of producers and broadcasters, putting the translator in a tough situation.


Also, aside from translating the slang and idioms, the character limit on the screen, and even the criteria of each studio/producer/broadcaster must be taken into consideration. The conversion of several languages such as German or even Spanish increase the text when translating, and this is just one of the challenges a translator faces, because, yes, there is a lot more, such as the parameters required depending in the screen size, speech rate, amount of characters, audience, restrictions either from the country in which the video/movie/news piece will be broadcasted. You may not know this, but censure plays an important role in the work of a translator, there are words banned in several countries, and may represent fines or even the prohibition of the audiovisual material, which always translates into money.


So, I bet next time you will think before thinking “I could have done a better job.” For your next subtitling need, call the experts and let us make your life easier.