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Audiovisual Translation

Professional subtitling, voice-over, and dubbing services in Polish, Spanish, English, Lithuanian. Subtitles and dubbing of films, series, videos, audios.

What Difficulties May Film Translators Encounter?

What does audiovisual localisation involve?

          The complete audiovisual location consists of translation of dialogues and subtitles, their adaptation to market needs, voice-over recording, and also, in some cases, editing and post-production. There are three movie-localization techniques, i.e. voice-overdubbing, and subtitling:

  • Voice-over – actor voices are recorded over the original audio track which can be heard in the background.
  • Dubbing – adding voices to the previously recorded material.
  • Subtitling/captioning – putting a written translation of spoken dialogues or songs on screen, simultaneously with the audio; this technique is also used as a convenience for the deaf.

         Despite the fact that in Poland for many years the most popular has been the voice-over technique, subtitles have started to gain popularity, especially in the case of educational films, training, documentaries, commercials, presentations, etc. Moreover, subtitles affect the learning of foreign languages! That is why the people of countries such as Norway, Sweden or Romania, where all film productions not intended for children are almost always created with subtitles instead of voice-over or dubbing, are so good with foreign languages!

          Please feel free to listen to my voice sample in Lithuanian (the poem “Senelės pasaka” (“Grandma’s Tale”) by Salomėja Nėris). The full recording has been used to replace the voice of the Spanish actress. 

“Without translation,

we would be living

in provinces

bordering on silence.”

Alberto Manguel

What are the common challenges faced by film translators?

          It is commonly known that the audiovisual translations are not simple tasks. Although a solid knowledge of the language is essential, it is not enough. There are many other issues that need to be kept in mind; here are some examples:
Rains cats and dogs

  1. As in the case of interpretation and translation: we translate here meaning for meaning, not words for words. While “it rains cats and dogs” in Great Britain, “it rains jugs” (“llueve a cántaros”) in Spain. We cannot translate (and subtitle) idiomatic expressions literally, word by word, because they are not going to make any sense or be understood. Literal translation of texts is pointless or even impossible. Additionally, the film translator must also remember about the restriction, which is enforcing a specified line length. This means that cannot lose the sense of the utterance by reducing it to the subtitled version.
  2. When translating subtitles we cannot forget that we translate them for a specific recipient. Recently, in response to the growing demand from advertisers are taken into account not only the determined socio-demographic criteria of the target group, but also the psychographic aspect based on a separate classification of a group taking into account its behaviour and lifestyle. Examples of psychographic groups are cat owners, vegetarians, cyclists, scientologists, etc. The film translator thus aims to translate the content of the footage according to the preferences and expectations of specified recipients.
  3. This point should be actually at the top of the list: it is necessary to know the film translation techniques. For instance, in Poland there is a rule saying that there is one subtitle line assigned to each person speaking, but other countries have different rules. In what situation don’t we use a hyphen when two different persons are speaking? Can we introduce colours in subtitles, and if so, what colours? Should we describe music? These and other issues were discussed in the “Audiovisual Translation” course, which I completed at the University of Salamanca in Spain. The course was carried out by the audiovisual translation guru, the outstanding Prof. Jorge Díaz Cintas.

Audiovisual translations can be compared to…

marketing translations. The translation of films and marketing share a common goal: inducing in the recipient of the original and target material the same emotions and feelings. In the translation of movies, as in the translation of marketing, it is necessary to know the cultural aspects of the country for which the translation is destined. It also requires excellent knowledge of the target market and the segment of users. Not without significance is creativity, etc. When compared to other types of translation, the translation of films deals with everyday language. In some regions of the country inhabitants speak a dialect, slang, jargon, or the so called newspeak, what can often cause difficulties in understanding even to local natives living in other regions. All this makes that unimposing, sometimes short fragments may be the source of big dilemmas in the field of translation. 

Is it necessary to watch a movie or television series


proceeding to the translation stage?



The excellent grasp of the language is not the only requirement to create good and pleasant subtitles. 

In order to remain faithful to the spirit of the film or TV series, we need not only to “watch” it, but get involvein the process of watching it, i.e. capture the facial expressions and the smallest movements of the characters made when speaking their lines, watch the earlier episodes of the series, and also outline the historical, social, cultural background, and define the target group at whom the work is directed.

This information will enable the translator to more precisely reflect the content of the original expression. 

          For instance, in the American TV series “Shameless” one of the characters pronounces these words: “Monica took off.” If the translator did not know about the escape of this character from the previous season, could translate such an ambiguous idiom as “to take off” differently than in the sense of “escaped” or “ran off”.

Examples of Audiovisual Translation Work:

    • Subtitling television series “Bajo sospecha” (Under Suspition) from Spanish to Polish.
    • Subtitling marketing videos for Mary Kay from English to Polish.
    • Recording dialogues based on the script in English for the English language course; the recordings took place in the professional recording studio.

Magda worked with me for one year and half in a content creation project for a financial brand. During all this time, she produced a huge amount of high quality Polish articles, always with a precise and accurate style and exceeding the expectations. Besides, she proved her multitasking capabilities, managing several assignments at the same time, and excelling in providing a really good service. To sum up, if you are looking for a top performing writer, translator or interpreter, you should count on her. You’ll never regret it!

Gema Diego Sánchez,
Journalist at Súmate Marketing Online, Web Content and Inbound Marketing

It is our pleasure to provide this reference on behalf of Miss MAGDALENA BARANOWSKA. Miss Baranowska has collaborated with this school as a translator from March 2010 to present. Miss Baranowska possesses special expertise in subjects such as legislation and technical documentation. She is very hard-working, qualified and motivated professional. The accuracy of her translations and the ability to work under deadline pressure deserve a special mentioning. I would also like to remark on her excellent relations with colleagues. I can without hesitation recommend Miss Baranowska for any translation job or any position that requires in-depth knowledge of Polish, Spanish and Lithuanian.

Isabel Badillo Matos,
President at Europa Idiomas, Language School

Ms Magdalena Baranowska participated as a Spanish language specialist in the linguistic - IT project organized by Samsung R&D Institute Poland. Her substantial competence as well as involvement in accomplishment of above mentioned project contributed to the development of innovative products and services created by Samsung Company. Considering satisfactory realization of charged tasks Ms Magdalena Baranowska deserves the positive note of her immediate and other superiors.

Karol Świetlik,
Senior Linguistic Projects Coordinator at Samsung Electronics Polska

Does it sound interesting? Let’s schedule our first call to discuss!


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