by Daniela Costa
A couple of months ago, the Audiovisual Division launched a series of Instagram Lives where we chat with talented audiovisual translators.
September: The Founding of the ATA AVD with Deborah Wexler, Ana Lis Salotti, Ana Gabriela Gonzalez Meade, and Mara Campbell
We kicked-off on September 26 with an interview with the founders of the ATA Audiovisual Division. We talked about a little bit of everything and walked down memory lane, recalling funny stories and how far we’ve come in terms of technology and productivity. But we all agreed, myself included, that this experience made us who we are today and paved the way for new generations of subtitlers and dubbers.
One of the highlights of these interviews was learning how the Audiovisual Division was founded. The need for a division was in the air, and these ladies took the initiative and made it happen. As Deborah said, “We were very lucky that the ATA thought it merited creating a division like this one.” Enough said.
October: Videogame Localization with Carme Mangiron
The second IG Live was on videogame localization and we had a blast. Carme Mangiron, the Audiovisual Division’s Distinguished Speaker at the 61st ATA Conference, shared her knowledge with us and we got immersed in the fascinating world of videogames.
We covered many different topics, such as whether you need to be a gamer to translate videogames, the various stages of the videogame localization process, and how to deal with fans and social media.
Carme mentioned something that bewildered me and made me think twice before taking on a videogame localization assignment. Videogame localization begins at the development stage— before the game is finished— so you may not have access to sound and image, which, as all of us know, is crucial to deliver high-quality audiovisual translation. This is why the QA process takes longer than the translation itself. Carme explains, “It’s about risk management. Which option is not the best, but which one is more likely to work.”
Nonetheless, it is quite a rewarding experience. There are many people involved, several different stages and processes, and it may take from nine months to a year to complete a videogame localization project.
We also discussed what happens with titles and character names, gender-neutral characters, and the differences between Japanese, English, and Spanish.
When I asked Carme whether you had to be a gamer to be a videogame translator, she replied:
“That’s the million-dollar question! That’s a hot topic in videogame localization. I always give a very controversial reply to this. I don’t think so. You don’t have to be a gamer, but it is definitely easier [if you are]. But I always tell my students [that] I wasn’t a gamer, [that] I don’t know anybody who started in the earlier wave [that was a gamer], [of] the older people who started in the late 1990s and early 2000s, not one of them was a gamer, and we did quite well.” So that gives us hope if we want to delve into the exciting world of videogames.
November: Audio Description with Joel Snyder
For our third Instagram Live, we had the pleasure to talk to Joel Snyder, a pioneer in audio description.
He has been working in the field since the 1980s and has gone the extra mile to make audiovisual material accessible for blind or visually impaired persons. In audio description, Joel said words are used to make the visual verbal and aural. And that is why audio describers must have a specific set of skills to perform their task. You have to be able to see, but you have to learn how to see.
We discussed the fundamentals of audio description: developing observational skills or becoming an active seer, editing or identifying key visual elements, and getting to the essence of an image. As Joel said, “The key to any good artist, any good translator, is getting at this essence in order to convey a significant belief or truth.” To describe images vividly, we must have a rich vocabulary, imagination, and intonation.
One striking fact about audio description is the objectivity required. Joel gave a great example by having us do an exercise. He described me crying, and showed us how inferring something subjectively may lead to a wrong interpretation. He said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are because all of us are individual subjective beings.” But as an audio describer, you have to leave your subjective interpretations aside and objectively describe what you see, without making any assumptions.
This has been a summary of what we’ve discussed so far, and there are more to come, that’s for sure.
I am honored to host these interviews and have the chance to talk to such remarkable and influential figures in the AVT world. I hope you enjoy these Instagram Lives as much as I do.