1. What is a subtitle translation? Do I need to do a separate translation?

The process of subtitling begins with two important steps; Spotting and Translation. Spotting identifies the entrance and exit times of the subtitles, calculating the minimum and maximum duration times. Translation then adapts the original content, adjusting it to fit in with the duration of the subtitle. We take the video, create a spotting list and translate it into other languages, or if only one language is required, we time and translate from scratch. If the client already has a spotting list, we can translate this directly, and if they already have a translation we can work with this too.

2. Who takes care of the translation?

VSI employ a large team of experienced, in-house translators whose are responsible for the translation and subtitling of material, however, if a client is requesting a fast turnaround or a particularly rare language, we also have a network of trusted suppliers who we utilise. 

Projects are assigned to translators based on their specific skills and experience, so for example a high profile TV drama will be worked by a subtitler with very specific broadcast experience, whilst the subtitling of a company’s end-of year results, will be assigned to a subtitler with financial translation experience.

3. Is it possible for VSI to provide just a script translation, and for the client to subtitle the file themselves?

Whilst this is technically possible, we would very strongly advise against this. A paper translation, is very different to a translation created for subtitling purposes, as a multitude of additional factors have to be considered, including timing, reading speed, positing and on-screen context.

Additionally whilst some editing software does allow for the addition of subtitles to a video file, the flexibility offered, and end result is of a far lower quality than when specialist subtitling software is used.

4. How are subtitling prices calculated?

At VSI, we price by the minute for the subtitling, include the cost of creating a spotting list and the translation itself. If a client can supply us with a script, this reduces the total cost, as it is easier for our teams to create the spotting list.

For the more technical parts of the process such as the burning in of the subtitles to the video, we have another set-up price and cost per minute.

Prices can also be effected by the volume of material, and whether the content relates to a particularly specialist subject area, which would require a translator who is an expert in this particular field.

5. What is ‘Sync’ and ‘Burn-in?’

The difference between a Sync and Burn-in is actually quite simple – syncing denotes the process of placing the subtitles on top of the video content, using a separate subtitle file, this work normally requires the skills of a professional video editor, though there are certain file formats which are easier to apply.

A Burn-in tends to involve slightly more work, but produces a result which is guaranteed to be consistent regardless of the platform on which is displayed. To ‘Burn-in’ subtitles, the video content needs to be digitised into the required format, with the subtitles edited into the video. Once this process has been completed, the subtitles can’t be turned on or off, but will run consistently throughout the programme.

6. How do you know which subtitling format you will need?

The target format of the subtitles usually depends on what our clients will be using the subtitles for. For example, if it’s for a YouTube clip, it’s generally an SRT file, whilst XML files are usually reserved for when clients are planning on doing further editing to the file themselves, and burnt-in subtitles are very important for clients, when the video will be played on a video player that does not have controls to turn subtitles on/off or where they want to make sure that all viewers see the subtitles, without having to worry about turning them on. 

VSI are equipped to deal with all file formats, in any size, and we also have the capacity to edit material or translate written text in the form of graphics.

7. How quickly can a subtitling project be completed?

The VSI Group prides itself on its ability to deliver detailed, high quality projects which meet our clients’ needs and time frames. There are many variables to consider when delivering a project, for example, the length of the material, the languages, the availability of an appropriate translator and so on, so we prefer to give delivery times on a project-by project basis, rather than inaccurate estimates.

VSI however, are one of the well-resourced, global subtitling services providers for both broadcast and corporate material, so we are very confident that we can offer the most competitive turnaround times in the industry, whilst still maintaining high quality output. 

8. How clients are kept updated on their project’s status?

If a client is new to the subtitling process we can provide guidance and updates throughout the project, or if they wish, everything to us.

Where a project is not handled in-house, and is handled by one of our trusted suppliers, we are in constant contact so that in the highly unlikely circumstance that there is any delay, our clients will be updated immediately.

Clients are always given the option of approving their subtitles before the final file is created, in which case they should factor in the time they need to set aside for approval when proposing a deadline.

9. How do you ensure quality standards are maintained?

All of our suppliers are tested by our trained, in-house linguists before we begin using them on live jobs. We proofread their work and provide detailed feedback to our Vendor Management team, who log this feedback and, in turn, update our project managers on the quality of a supplier’s work. We regularly monitor all of our freelancers’ deliveries, including those who have been working with us for a long time, to ensure that VSI’s stringent quality standards are maintained at all times.

We also carry out thorough checks in our subtitling software to ensure that the reading speed is acceptable and the subtitles are accurately timed. We time our subtitles to specific guidelines, and in order to consistently maintain a high quality, we believe that it’s imperative to stay up to date on industry trends.