Subtitle Chats Recap – Take 3

Welcome to the recap for our April Subtitle Chats! We gathered to discuss all things creative in audiovisual translation. If you missed it, read on to find a snapshot of what we talked about. 

Topic: Creativity in Audiovisual Translation 

In two groups, we were led by questions regarding templates, examples of when we have produced creative solutions in practice, what being creative means in audiovisual translation and what research can do to provide insight into how subtitlers use creativity in their everyday work. 

Everyone agreed from the beginning that the extent to which you can take creative license is determined by what you are working on – what the genre is and who the audience is. While the way we condense information for subtitles is itself creative, there are certain genres that demand even more creativity. Content for children was highlighted as being especially challenging (and subtitlers tend to be underpaid for this creative challenge) due to the lower reading speeds and the fact that children may not understand the content as well as adults. We discussed musicals, and the difficulty of subtitling songs and matching rhyme and visual elements on the screen. Comedy specials were also named as a challenging genre to convey across cultures and languages. 

We also discussed the issue of templates. Locked templates restrict creativity, which makes subtitling difficult if there are long names or words in the dialogue or even slang. Cost-saving measures in general were deemed to stifle creativity. Since the viewers want to enjoy the experience and the subtitler wants to enjoy the work, doing everything from scratch seemed to be a better option. 

On the issue of quality, we talked about the lack of a definition for creativity within quality assessment and questioned the difference between a creative solution and an error. Making things easily understood for the audience is a priority, but we also identified a gap in knowledge of what audiences want out of their subtitles. We need more audience reception studies to understand what people use subtitles for so that we can make our subtitles fulfil this need. It is often difficult for practitioners to find resources to solve translation challenges, so we agreed that research can and should also conduct case studies of texts that contain especially creative solutions, which will provide banks of solutions to inspire practitioners. 

We also quickly discussed the role of MT, and of human revisors. Putting ourselves in the shoes of the audience takes a certain amount of creativity, as well as finding ways to work with the subtitler to make the content even better. 

SubComm Updates 

At the end of the Chats, we shared two updates: our progress on the infographic project, and our new community forum. We will have our next Subtitle Chat event in May. As there is no clear consensus on whether a Tuesday or Friday is better, we will be alternating the days for our Subtitle Chats events going forward. 

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