Amateur Translators Set Standards For New Subtitle Translations

Amateur Translators Set Standards For New Subtitle Translations

Businesses looking to capitalise from videos that target foreign audiences are in the midst of a paradigm shift. Not only is there a need to rethink how subtitles are presented, the entire process of video production is up for review.

The internet has improved worldwide connectivity exponentially. Businesses can connect with customers on the other side of the world for practically no cost.

In today’s world, small businesses in Honduras can sell artisanal jewellery to buyers in Russia. When Roland Orzabal wrote ‘Mad World’, 35 years ago, the internet wasn’t even in the public arena.

How much crazier can the world get?

In actual fact, the world is not mad; people are just creative. Every time mankind is faced with a challenge, we find a solution. And it is often consumers that steer businesses to produce better results. Subtitles for international audiences is just one more example of that.

It is not only the emergence of new technologies that is shaping the business world. The advancements of modern subtitling services is being driven by end-users, and the extent of their creativity could set new standards for professional subtitle translators.

The growing need for subtitle translations

Earning the trust of customers is a test for online businesses. Many struggle in their own language, and the same rules of marketing apply in other countries. Therefore, overcoming language barriers is the greatest challenge online businesses face.

The internet, together with satellite channels, is bringing cultures closer together. Ultimately, there is a growing need for TV programs and marketing videos to be translated into foreign languages. And technicians across all manner of industries have to find solutions.

And it has to be said; industries are failing whilst fans are thriving.

Take this recent example. Millions of viewers in China tuned in to watch the Academy Awards earlier this year. The Oscars have been a passion in China for almost two decades. In the past, the ceremony was pre-recorded and aired the following day. This extra day allowed translators to edited a dubbed version or add subtitles.

But times have changed. In the modern world, people want immediacy. They want current news and live shows. For TV channels to increase ratings – and thus advertising revenue – that means airing live broadcasts. Even to countries that speak a different language.

For the last two years, the Academy Awards have been broadcast live in China. As a consequence, the Oscars were given ‘live subtitling’ in real-time.

Live subtitling presents its own challenges for translators. Conveying jokes, slang and cultural references is no easy task and there is no time for research. Yet, for the time being at least, live-subtitling is the latest means to satisfy the demands of an audience that want information immediately.

Fans leading innovations in translating subtitles

Thanks to satellite TV, viewers are taking a stronger interest in programs from other countries. And the imminent rise of live internet TV streaming is expected to take global viewing to the next level.

Whilst TV and film studios still rely on traditional methods of inserting subtitles – film prints that appear at the bottom of the screen – experts are discussing how translation for film and TV content can be improved.

Today, students training to be linguists and hoping to work with a professional translation agency typically learn visual translation as a matter of course. It is a basic requisite of the digital age. But the most recent innovations in translating subtitles is coming from end-users.

Passionate fans and group activists are creating subtitles because they want to share aspects of their culture with viewers from other countries. It has become so popular that subfan groups are competing with one another to release subtitles for the latest films or provide the best subtitles.

This new culture has been dubbed ‘fansubs’. It typically involves amateur translators adding subtitles to movies or popular TV series and started with fans in Japan fansubbing Anime which was not officially released with subtitles.



Fansubbing then evolved into parody fansubs which involves translating movies with incorrect subtitles for comic effect. The Hitler series on YouTube taken from the German language film Downfall is a prime example. The subtitles are usually inserted by fans with no knowledge of the original language.

Fansubbing is a difficult process that requires translations to be timed with the script and code subtitles on to the video. But that has not stopped fansub groups from attempting to add subtitles that have aesthetically pleasing elements to their videos.

For example, words that appear on a billboard are given subtitles designed with the same style of colour as the billboard or adding the name of a hotel in Chinese letters to convey the appearance they were there when the scene was shot.

Amateur translators are leading the way in evolving subtitles because they have more freedom to be experimental than translators within the industry. Professional conventions are proving to be a stumbling block or translators do not have the technical skills to design creative subtitles.

There is a growing need for professionals in the translation field to be multitalented like many other online professions in the digital age. As translation and dubbing play an increasing role in an interconnected world, creative solutions are required to retain the attention of a young audience that notoriously has a dwindling attention span.

Subtitle translations for live internet TV

The demand for companies to translate film and TV programs for the modern world is already growing. Netflix recently launched an ad appealing to bi-lingual fans to translate subtitles for their library of content.

And emerging technologies have the potential for companies to communicate with a global audience in various ways. Last year, YouTube demonstrated the huge potential of live streaming when it attracted eight million viewers to its E3 stream in 12 hours.

Live video feeds will enable viewers all around the world to simultaneously watch the same event or show. Sporting events, pop concerts, breaking news and even popular TV shows will all be available through live internet streams. Then of course, are the industry specific events organised and sponsored by brands looking to raise brand image.

With streaming services bringing internet TV on to multi-inch HD screens, live internet TV will provide a platform for major corporations to reach a live global audience. And that audience will demand subtitle translations.

Video marketing is the next leap for many online companies. And live stream is the next evolution of visual media on the internet. Live TV opens up a whole new world of interactivity that companies can use to leverage brand image and products.

The world of connected reality

Leading online technology companies are investing billions on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). When firms like Google and Facebook get behind initiatives years ahead of schedule, you know this technology is going to be a major game-changer.

Conversations around VR and AR have mostly focused on 3D movies and the gaming industry. But there is potential for software to be developed across more key industries including healthcare, architecture and interior design among others.

Goldman Sachs estimates augmented reality will be a multi-billion-dollar cash cow in the pockets of numerous industries. Retail and live events are expected to accrue $5.6bn between them. 121 countries have already signed up to take advantage of innovations in virtual and augmented reality software.

Virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift and 360 video make online video an immersive experience for viewers. The capacity to view a location as if you’re actually there brings a whole new dimension to the user-experience.

The interactive capacity of VR is a marketers dream. Promotional videos become unskippable whereby brands increase their chances of delivering the marketing message and raising brand recognition. Combined with live steaming and real-time language translations, promotional ads are set to hit new heights.

Augmented reality in the boardroom

Augmented reality also has a significant role to play in shaping the future of collaborative experiences. Sitting at the intersection between the physical world and the digital world, augmented reality has the capacity to dramatically improve the experience of communicating with people at opposite ends of the planet.

Although video conferencing is widely used in the corporate world, existing technology has its limitations. Time lags and noise interference can make it difficult for businesses exchanging information in different languages to understand.

Enter augmented reality. With a headset and noise reduction earphones, organisations will be able to share a fully immersive digital experience with overseas partners as though you are sitting in the same room.

From a cognitive perspective, this will help to develop a rapport and strengthen relationships even though the conversation is actually happening thousands of miles apart and at different times of the day in respective countries.

The human mind cannot tell the difference between what is imagined or what is real. Nor does the brain have any concept of time. To all intents and purposes, augmented reality will relay events to the unconscious mind as though the experience actually happened in the same room.

The potential to improve collaborative projects can be further helped by live subtitling. The ability to translate in real-time completely removes language barriers.

There are also new devices like the Logbar which translate your words into another language instantaneously. With the help of language translation services, international organisations teaming up with foreign partners will be able to share jokes and anecdotes in real-time without losing the context.

Language translation and augmented reality ultimately means companies can build a flexible workforce in overseas countries. The opportunity of for greater autonomy will enhance communication between departments and subsequently improve production levels.

If you need subtitle translations for your corporate videos, webinars, films, games or other promotional material, contact Language Reach and ask us about our subtitling transcriptions.