We are living in a world where everyone has access to basically everything and for this sole reason, film production houses are trying their best to create content that can be consumed globally. There are different ways in which they can do this and that is exactly what we will look at today. Film localization is what these production houses do in order to make their contents consumable globally.
To-date there are only two types of film localization. We have Subtitling and we also have dubbing. Subtitling is a film localization process that involves transforming audio into a text format and it can either be the same language subtitling where the language doesn’t change in both formats or different language subtitling where the audio format will be transformed and translated into a different language in a text format. Dubbing is a film localization process that involves the translation of one audio language into another audio language.
In this article, we will look at how to localize a film and by the end of it, you will be able to either localize your film through subtitling or dubbing.
1. Script Transcription
More times than not, this is a step that doesn’t really apply in film subtitling but if you are working on a different language kind of subtitling, then this step will make your work way easier. You will first have to transcribe the audio film and create a script from it. This is the very first step because you won’t be able to have the audio translated into a different language script unless you are working with a transcriptionist who is also conversant with your target language and doesn’t have a problem transcribing while translating. In dubbing, script transcription is paramount because it goes without saying that the script has to be translated into another language in order for it to be dubbed into that new language. In order to translate the script, it has to exist and that’s why if you already don’t have the script at hand you have to find a transcriptionist to create a script from the audiovisual.
Another important thing to note while still on the script transcription is to make sure that the person creating the script includes time stamps. These time stamps will be very useful in knowing where to match the source and target languages during either subtitling or dubbing.
2. Script Translation
When your transcribed script is ready, depending on what localization process you are working with, they will be sent in for translation. For both subtitling and dubbing you should be able to create translations that will maintain the context of the original audio. Since different language words mean something totally different in other languages, be sure to get a translator who’s keen enough to pinpoint these words and do a great translation job. You should take to account the number of words per line for subtitles and be able to condense the script as much as possible while still maintaining the original context and still make it fit its timestamps compared to the original audio.
When it comes to dubbing get a native speaker who is aware of the cultural, linguistic, and technical entities of your target language. You do not want to offend your target culture by providing a shabbily dubbed film because you did not take enough time to research and know what exactly is right or wrong and what is acceptable or not in their culture. Just like how in subtitling you must consider the number of words per line in the same way you should consider contraction and expansion of text depending on what language you are working with. Be sure to have them condensed if they expand by 25% and have them expanded when they contract in order to fit the timestamps of the original audio. A lot of things can go wrong during translation for both processes if you do not work with a professional and qualified translator. Translation determines how your target audience receives your content so look into this step critically.
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3. Create subtitles/ Recording the audio
By now you already have your transcribed and translated scripts. On this step, subtitling doesn’t really apply, however, I thought I should include it so that you see how both processes compare to each other. While translating the transcribed script on perfectly formulated time stamps and making sure you condense them, you already have created the subtitles on the step above and all you need to do is make sure the rules and guidelines of subtitling are followed to the maximum.
When it comes to dubbing, this is the step where you have the translated script voiced in a recording studio. You must get professional voice actors and hire a professional recording studio for this step. You can have your audio recording done anywhere but the best advice is to get a professional studio to match your efforts of a professional transcriptionist, translator, and voice actors. This will ensure that you will achieve studio-quality sound for your recordings.
4. Post production
By now you have your perfectly done subtitles which have been created following the rules and guidelines of subtitling. The next thing to do is to get video engineers who will mount the subtitles on a converted video file depending on what format you are using. The video engineers will make sure that all the subtitles have been created well and sit well on their timestamps in line with the original audio.
On the dubbing side, this is where sound mixing engineers are brought in to go through the recorded files and ensure that the syncing is right. They cut out unnecessary sounds that might have been recorded like breathing, matching up sound tempo, adding music and effects, and so on and so forth. When it is confirmed that everything is in check, sound-wise, the files are then sent in for a quality check which brings us to the next step.
5. QC Review
In this step, the subtitled and dubbed files will be taken through a quality check review for a final confirmation that everything is in place and that there are no errors. You will be able to also catch anything that might have slipped outside the project specifications. All files must pass through this step, in order to avoid presenting a terribly localized film to the public and in the end embarrass yourself.
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Now that your files have been confirmed to be perfectly done and error free, you can launch them to the public so that they can enjoy and give you feedback.
The sole reason people decide to localize their content is so that they can have another way to make an income, they usually say you should use money in order to make more money. In order to follow through with all these steps, you need a realistic budget that isn’t cheap. One thing for sure is that following these steps to localize your content will definitely bring in major returns.
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