Language versioning

Language versioning is the process by which a production, originally produced in one language, is adapted for viewing in another language. The goal of the process is that the audience for the language version perceives the production, to the maximum extent possible within the limitations of the original material and the production budget, as an original production in their own language.

Not all of our productions are subsequently versioned to other languages, however, wherever possible, we strive to accommodate the possibility of simple and efficient language versioning when planning and producing all our films. 

When versioning a production we have to consider a variety of stylistic and economic choices, reaching our decisions in close cooperation with the client. Our basic approach is that all language-specific content - dialogue, interviews, narration and graphics should be versioned for the target language audience.

When considering sub-titling, we must consider where the target audience is accustomed to sub-titles (UK and US audiences are often not, just as audiences in some countries such as Germany and Italy often prefer dubbing). It is also important to remember, that sub-titling for foreign language audiences is different to sub-titling for the deaf or hard of hearing. If the latter is the case, usually for broadcast projects, the production process will be quite different, as the subtitles are "superimposed" during the actual broadcast and not, as is the case with most of our projects, included on the language master for release.

Language versioning includes the following tasks -

  • Decision about the choice of dubbing versus sub-titling

  • Assigning a translator (usually a "mother-tongue" speaker of the target language)

  • Translation of the script (dialogue, narration, interviews, graphics)

  • Casting of narrator/or and dubbing artist(s)

  • Recording and editing of dubbing and narration soundtracks

  • Editing video to accommodate possible time differences due to language

  • Production of original graphics in new target language

  • Production of release graphics in target language

  • Final audio mix in new language version

  • Production of language version master files and videotapes

  • Encoding of language version release files, including uploads where required

  • Back-up of all production media and metadata for language version

Translating for film requires other skills than translating for other media. besides an understanding of the subject and any relevant professional terminology, the film translator must also be able to work with pictures and the flow of the original production, matching the timing of the target language text closely to the original and clarifying matters which, for the original audience may have been obvious but which for the target language audience require additional explanation. In some cases, original sequences must be extended or modified to accommodate the requirement of the language version. Like all translation work, film translation also requires the adherence to grammatical and textual style conventions applicable to the target language.

We normally use professional translators who have the target language as their mother-tongue. In some cases the translator may also be engaged as the narrator, although, when versioning to languages which we ourselves do not speak, we usually engage a separate narrator as a "second-check" of the translation.

Sub-titling is also a demanding process that requires more than simple translation. The sub-titles must match the flow of the narration and dialogue, often within severe space and time limitations, not only indicating what is being said, but also who is saying it. Literal translations may often require too many sub-title words or too long to read, so compromises have to be arrived at. We follow broadcast conventions when composing sub-titles, including the use of the international "Tiresias" sub-title font.

For productions that will be released solely via YouTube (including embedded YouTube players on client websites) we offer a simple and cost-effective subtitling option in which the subtitles are encoded as a separate text file and are inserted automatically on play-back via YouTube. This gives the viewer the option of selecting different language subtitles - or none at all.

All language versions include some degree of compromise - especially when handling on-screen dialogue or original material which was spoken in a language other than the original language. Our goal is to provide the optimal language version within the time and economic constraints of the project.

Examples of some of our previous language versions may be seen in our video section.

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2017 Channel 6 Television Denmark
  14/12/2016 18:47

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