SubComm: A Spring Recap, and Looking Forward

By Hannah Silvester

The last few months have been very busy for SubComm, while some of our more regular activities have been put on the back burner. We wanted to acknowledge that we simply didn’t have capacity to keep doing all the regular things alongside the special events of the spring, and also to share a few upcoming changes in our personal circumstances that will affect SubComm’s activities in the coming months. At the same time, this is a community, and we welcome ideas/volunteers as we move into this next phase!

Our Last Subtitle Chat

Event posterIn all the excitement, we neglected to post a recap of our last Subtitle Chat, Tools That Make Our Lives Easier! Once again, it was great to see some new faces there, and everyone shared lots of tips and experience based on the different technologies they use in their work. Some of the subtitling software that people use included WinCAPS, Originator, and ZOOSubs. One particular favourite that was mentioned was OOONA, because of its many features and the fact that it was quite intuitive to use, but its price may be prohibitive to freelancers. There was also a mention of two free tools; Subtitle Edit and Subtitle Workshop. EZTitles’ Subtitling Assistant was praised as it saved time when spotting, took shot changes into account and was able to produce same language subtitles in a range of languages. It was also mentioned that MateSub offers a similar service for free with a 1hr per month limit. CaptionHub, AYATO, Annotation Edit, and Adobe Premiere Pro were all mentioned by subtitlers, too. When it comes to researching terms and context, people found Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) better than ChatGPT.

Then of course the topic of machine translation came up! Some mentioned that clients impose the use of MT but that so far this hasn’t affected rates, though things remain unclear in terms of the ethical usage of AI. We discussed possible research topics related to this subject and suggestions included:

  • Do QCers follow the same approach with human translation as with MT?
  • Creativity and MT
  • How do subtitlers and translators feel about MT?

A couple of final tools and tips came up:

  • com for converting PDFs and combining pages
  • Beyond Compare allows you to compare two text files for differences
  • MAXQDA allows you to import PDFs and annotate them as well as searching for key terms
  • QDA Miner, which is similar to MAXQDA, has a free version available (QDA Miner Lite)
  • Citavi for reference management
  • For time/task management, Time Tree, Trello, Clockodo, Todoist

And finally, an idea for another chat! Random things I never thought I’d end up researching. Could certainly be an interesting one…

What has kept us so busy?

Hopefully, you have all heard about our infographics project! After the idea came up in one of our subtitle chats, we put together a working group of subtitlers and researchers interested in developing infographics that we could use to share more information about subtitles and subtitling with anyone who might have an interest. We were given some funding in the form of a Kopiosto grant from SKTL, the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters, and this allowed us to hire a wonderful graphic artist, Hannah O’Connor, to work with us to bring the infographics to life and also design a wonderful new logo for SubComm! We sent her the texts developed by the working groups, and some ideas for visuals, and she made them look wonderful!

We launched the infographics at an event in late April, which included a great panel discussion on the topic of raising awareness about subtitling. Then, some of Tiina’s students at The University of Turku translated the infographics and introductory text into Finnish. With a little more of the grant money, we were able to have Hannah produce these in the same format as the others, and they were launched at the start of June. This has all been very exciting for us, and exactly the kind of activity and concrete outcome we had been hoping would come from the SubComm community. You can read more about the working group and the origins of the infographics project here, and at the bottom you will find links to view and download the infographics, which are freely available to share, as long as you don’t modify them, and you don’t share them for commercial purposes. So go on, spread the word about subtitling!

The other thing that Tiina and I have been working on together, is a study to investigate collaboration between academics and practitioners in audiovisual translation. With this study, we wanted to examine the kinds of collaboration that have been taking place between academics and practitioners, and see what kinds of success stories could be identified, but also where the barriers to successful collaboration might lie. As part of the study, we conducted focus groups – one with academics, and one with representatives of translators’ associations – to gather views and experiences related to this kind of collaborative activity. After some initial data analysis, we went back to the participants and shared our findings, ideas for the future and proposals for successful collaboration, to find out if this aligned with their experiences, and see if they had anything further to suggest. The data-gathering portion of this study has been very rewarding, and the deeper we dig, the further we want to go! For now, we will be working on an article to share our findings, and will be developing other ideas for dissemination through less academic channels. However, the project won’t end here, so watch this space!

Besides these SubComm-related activities, Tiina and I have been working on other research endeavours. Tiina has been busy in her role as Chair of the Standing Committee on Audiovisual Translation for FIT (The International Federation of Translators), and has been sharing her work on User-Centred Translation and developing the concept of User-Centered Subtitling, attending AVTE’s first conference in Barcelona, as well as signing a contract for a Professorship in English (with a focus on Translation Studies) at the University of Turku! I have been on sabbatical leave this semester, and have been writing and securing a contract with Routledge for a monograph on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Subtitled Banlieue Cinema, whilst also working on the engaged research project ‘Trans/Actions: Translation as Activism’, building a community of practice around translation, activism and creative practice in Ireland, and organising events for members of the community.

What’s next?

We would really like to get the infographics translated into more languages! For that, we need volunteers and funding. We will also be working on the article from our focus group study, and thinking about next steps for that. We have other research ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space, but they’re at too early a stage to share just yet.

We’ll hold a subtitle chat on Wednesday 26th June, on Random things I never thought I’d end up researching. Watch this space for registration and further details!

BUT, we need your help! I am having a baby in August, and will be taking a step back from work for a good few months after that, while Tiina will officially take up her new position in August. We want to keep the momentum going with SubComm, and so would love for you to reach out if you would like to be involved in any of the following:

  • Translating the infographics
  • Writing a guest post for the blog
  • Curating a subtitle chat. Maybe you have an idea and want to lead the discussion? We can help with logistics and advertising!
  • Any other ideas you might have are welcome, too.

Helping to organise/lead some of SubComm’s activities can be a way of giving back to the subtitling community, building your network, learning about new perspectives on a topic that interests you, or advocating for a cause you believe in!

Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash

1 thought on “SubComm: A Spring Recap, and Looking Forward”

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