What is Audiovisual Translation?
Audiovisual Translation is a term that encompasses many disciplines and tasks performed by professionals who help localize audiovisual content, i.e., movies, TV shows, corporate videos, commercials, etc. Even though some of those tasks do not require a language exchange (such as same language closed captioning, audio description, etc.), we refer to it as “translation” because there is actually rendering between two different aspects: the audio portion of the video and the written word which we produce (i.e., subtitles, captions, a script for dubbing or audio description.)
The tasks that an audiovisual translator can work on are many:
- Subtitling: this can be in the same language as the audio of the video or translated into a different language. It involves using a special software to time the subtitles (a.k.a. spotting, originating, subtitling from scratch).
- Translation of subtitles: after another professional has created subtitles with a specific software transcribing the dialogs in the same language as the audio, the linguist translates those subtitles into another language.
- Creation of subtitle templates: using a subtitling software, the professional creates subtitles in the same language as the audio of the video with the purpose of sending them over to a translator who will localize them into another language.
- Closed Captioning (or CC): this is the creation of subtitles for the deaf using special software. These captions are generally in the same language as the audio, although sometimes they are available in a different language. The captions need to be switched on and include sound effects, speaker identification, and other audio information that enables the deaf person to access the content in a way that approximates the hearing audience’s access.
- SDH (subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing): technically similar to subtitles, and include most auditory information, just like closed captions. These are mainly created in the same language as the audio of the video and the professional has to use a subtitling software to produce them.
- Translation and/or adaptation for dubbing: the translator creates a script that will later be used by voice talents to record the dubbing of a video in a professional recording studio. Linguists need to be aware of special aspects of the dubbing process and incorporate certain cues to be able to produce a text that will be readily interpreted by dubbing actors.
- Audio Description (or AD): this is a different audio track where a narrator describes what is going on onscreen or onstage, intended mainly for the blind and visually impaired. Linguists write a script that will later be narrated live (in the case of the performing arts) or recorded in a professional studio (in the case of films or TV shows).
- Transcription: this is the act of transcribing the content of an audio track or a video in the same language. Transcriptions are generally required in legal contexts, and sometimes they aid the edition or montage of a film.