The 5 most asked music translation questions
It has been asked to make an overview of some of the most asked questions I received regarding the translations, and subtitling, I do of music videos.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 most asked questions and my answers to them.
- What software do you use?
I use a combination of NCH Software’s VideoPad Master’s Edition, Aegisub, and Magix Vegas Pro[previously Sony Vegas Pro].
Aegisub to subtitle and translate the subtitles, VideoPad to hardcode the subtitles into the videos, and Vegas Pro to re-render the audio into the video, which VideoPad tends to decrease in quality, or even completely distorts.
- How long does the process take?
On average, it takes about 1 to 2 hours after I received a request until I have the finished product.
Although you often hear people say that it could be done within minutes, this is about translations alone. The translation of the lyrics is generally actually the least work, and this takes about 2 to 3 minutes, possibly even 5 minutes, but that is only in case of complex lyrics, like lyrics that include street language, or lyrics that are just very long. However, when it comes to what I do, it also requires the tasks of syncing the subtitles, as well as encoding. Generally, the encoding takes the longest, about half an hour to an hour with HD music videos, and about 10 minutes for SD music videos. But that doesn’t take away that the syncing isn’t a quick and easy task, at least, if you want to do it correctly.
- What is to you the most unnoticed part of subtitling?
That the ability to actually read everything which is written by the time the subtitles disappear again is extremely important. That part is where you can notice if you’re dealing with a recreational subtitler or a (more) professional subtitler. To understand what I mean, you could simply check out subtitled YouTube videos, as it’s extremely common among those that the subtitles are obsolete by not actually being properly synced. The readability is also important when it comes to a translation in general, as the choices of how text is translated will have to change as well based on the amount of time between phrases sung by the singer(s).
- If you could name 1 frustration about other subtitlers & translators, what would it be?
What I am going to say is not really new, but it’s the so-called ‘literal translation’, or ‘direct translation’, method both translators and subtitlers tend to stick too closely to, even professionals. An example of this could be seen in the very first phrase of the song “Leben Ist Schön” by Eisblume, of which the translated music video will be published shortly after this blog post. The phrase in German is “Dein Herz, tropft rot.”, which if you translate it literally, it would mean “Your heart drops red.”, the way every other translator of this song translated it to. I doubt I will need to explain how confusing that phrase is. Hence when it comes to my translation, I translated it in the way it was intended by the singer of the song(Sotiria Schenk), which is “Your heart bleeds.”. It may seem like just a small difference, however, when it comes to subtitles, it is important that people shouldn’t have a problem understanding what is said before the next line is shown. This is also why sometimes subtitles in the same language as what is spoken differentiate from the speech, as readability is key. This is, however, also still important when it comes to translations themselves, as a translation is intended to interpret a text towards a speaker of a different language, and it shouldn’t raise questions…
- What is your most loved music video that you subtitled yourself?
One of the first translations that I did back in 2015 was the song “Ангел мой”(My Angel) by the Omsk-based children’s vocal studio Indigo, which is most certainly my answer to this question. It’s eventually the very first music video that I translated, even though it wasn’t my first translated song. Also, it has a lot of personal sentiment because of my own orphaned past. I did the translation based on a request of the adults leading the children’s studio, and they still are very kind about my contribution of translating this song towards the English language, as they regard this song as special as I do. It’s also the only song of which the original Russian lyrics remain unpublished on their website…