How Does Audiovisual Translation Work On Streaming Platforms?



Jorgelina Capaccio


Netflix , HBO , Amazon Prime Video , Hulu , Apple TV+ , and Disney+ . are some of the most popular streaming platforms , a service that more and more users are using in search of their favorite movies and series. Many of these companies already have their own original productions, and they differ in catalogs, prices, and features. However, there is one thing they all have in common: they offer their content in dozens of languages .


This is the case, for example, of the Netflix series Money Heist ( La Casa de Pape l), whose third season got almost 35 million views in just one week. To get to those numbers, it first had to be dubbed into English, German, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Turkish, as well as subtitled into these and many more languages .


Dubbed or subtitled films are the standard in several European countries, including Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These two most prominent kinds of audio-visual translation allow audiences whose native language is different from that of the original film to learn more about foreign cultures while still being able to understand the spoken content.


Whenever a film is dubbed, the visual elements -and, in many cases, the background noises and soundtrack- remain unchanged, while the spoken fragments are translated into another language and visually fitted to the actors’ lip movements and gestures. The idea is to create the illusion that the various characters are speaking the target language in real-time.


On the other hand, subtitles are added to the original version of the film or series as translated text, usually in the lower portion of the screen, and serve as a linguistic aid to help viewers follow what is happening on the screen. It is frequently recommended for foreign language learning because the viewer can hear the source language while also reading the translation into the target language.


Is audiovisual translation so efficient?


The audio-visual translation is unique in that it has its own set of problems. While, like any translation , it is a matter of faithfully transferring the original message into another language, there are some key differences to consider.


To begin with, the source text is typically made up of oral conversation or monologue. Due to the dual nature of an audio-visual text, there are various constraints to consider: the target text must conform to a restricted number of characters and must be easily read by viewers when displayed on the screen. The subtitles must, of course, be coordinated with the dialogue. Our skilled translators can handle even the most difficult audio-visual translation jobs.


In the case of closed captions, which allow the deaf and hard of hearing to follow a film or TV series, a color-coding system is also used to indicate what type of sound is being described (birdsong, voiceover, tires screeching, you name Item).


Just as with different types of language transmission, it is important to remember that media translation is both a linguistic and a cultural process. This means that to generate a dubbed or subtitled version that matches the target audience’s cultural and linguistic knowledge, the goals and underlying meaning must be respected and studied to create a translation that makes sense.


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