How To Get Your Film Subtitled

All You Need to Know about Video Transcription, Audio Translations and Subtitling

Ever watched a subtitled film and spent the whole time watching the mouths move and laughing over the grammar?  We got some insider tips by talking to Grant Straker, Founder and CEO of Straker Translations, to find out how to get your subtitling done to ensure results that are professional, perfectly timed and smooth enough to be able to watch the film without being distracted by the translation.

“The most important thing about adding subtitles or voice over is that you are 100% happy with the finished wording before you release it,” says Grant.  “Don’t go near a translation company that does not insist on a review step, either internally or externally. Once the film is released it will be too late to amend any quality issues and damage resulting from a mistranslation, terminology or branding issues can be disastrous.  Only go with a translation company that backs up their translation with a second review or makes you confirm you will take this crucial step.”

The first step to getting a result you are 100% happy with is to get a transcription.  This means getting the source text down with time stamps.  Time stamping records when each sentence is spoken during the course of the film.  The transcription will be returned to you in two lists, one with the exact time the sentence was started and the next will contain the source text in written format.  If you can check over the transcription before it is sent out to the translator take the opportunity to go over the wording to make sure you are happy with it.  The cost of transcription is usually calculated at an hourly rate, worked out at around 4 times the length of the film.  So if the film is 10 minutes it will be calculated as 40 minutes worth of work.

Once the transcription is ready, the translation is then added to a third column.  That way each translated sentence corresponds to the source text and the time it should be recorded and can therefore be placed correctly in the context of the film.  Some agencies will have this done in one step so that as the translator is recording the source content they are also adding the translation.

Most translation companies will not add the visual subtitles to your film.  You will need to organize this with your video producer if it is required.  It is simply a matter of adding the text on the bottom of the film when indicated by the time stamp reference.  Usually translation companies will provide an audio translation, at a small extra cost, if necessary.  Pricing for this varies but generally it will be a per minute cost at around 5 times the actual length of the film.  So if you have a 6 minute piece of film, expect to be charged one hour worth of recording time for the spoken translation.

One last word from the expert – Grant Straker says, “Before you commit to a translation agency make sure that you shop around.  Prices can vary as can quality.  Make sure you let them know what you are buying, transcription, translation, audio recording… this will all affect the end price and of course, make sure you allow time for a review, even if you do it yourself – don’t get your film out there until you know it is just how you want it.”

Straker Translations is a translation company that specializes in audio files and film.