Why Hire A Professional
Whether you are a producer, director, distributor or part of a post-production team, you’ve probably spent months, maybe even years, working on your material — a feature film, children’s show, series of corporate videos, e-learning course, ad campaign or something else. Much work and investment went into it — planning, budgeting, writing, directing, acting, editing, etc. — all done by a group of industry professionals. To bring your production to foreign viewers, you’ll need to have it localized, and this is where many people blunder — instead of paying for a skilled and well-trained translator, they decide to save a little and hire someone for cheap, thus putting their work’s success at risk.
Contrary to popular belief, being somewhat fluent in two languages is not enough qualification to be an expert translator, just like being able to write will not by itself make you a best-selling author. To become a professional in our field, you need to go through lots of training in translation studies, film studies, as well as the theory, practice and technical aspect of subtitling. Then, to be in demand, we’re also required to have a fair bit of experience and own expensive subtitling software. Naturally, a specialist like this, who’s dedicated many years to honing their skills and who has invested into their business, wants to be paid well — just like any other member of the creative team.
But what’s the difference between an amateur and a pro? Why hire the latter? Consider this example from the film industry:
To translate a movie faithfully, you first need to analyze it — its references, humor and terminology; the pace, style and register of its dialogue; and the significance of its sound track, editing, set design, and cinematography. They influence your translation choices and hence must be carefully considered. Further, you must know how to best work within the time and space constraints of subtitling, to make reading the subtitles as comfortable an experience as possible by following the rhythm of the speech, matching the movie’s editing, writing concisely and displaying the subs for the right amount of time. The translation itself must be fluent, precise, natural, consistent, logically coherent, appropriate for the context and culturally sensitive.
If created to the highest standard, your subs soon vanish in the viewer’s mind. Captivated by the story, the audience forgets about their existence and watches the film almost as if it were originally created in the target language. Can an amateur subtitler achieve this effect? No, not at all — your viewers will have to deal with flickering subtitles, jerky rhythm and mistranslations, which will become the focus of their attention and ruin their experience. Ultimately, this means lower ratings and sales for the movie.
The example above is from the film industry, but the same idea applies to many other forms of video content: a single translation error can damage your ad campaign, undermine your e-learning series’ credibility or, when it comes to corporate training, even endanger people in the workplace.
So, if you care about your work’s international success and want to avoid unnecessary risk, it’s best to hire a professional subtitler.