Thursday, October 27, 2011

The BBC Gets Bashed, Thanks to Subtitling Blunders

                Deaf BBC viewers are frequently noticing some comical errors in the corporation’s subtitles/captions. The errors are so common that there is a website dedicated to recording them so that people can have a good laugh. Some of the slips include calling the leader of the Church of England the “arch bi***” of Canturbury, requesting “a moment’s violence” during the Queen Mother’s funeral, and describing pigs that enjoy nibbling on “wellies” (boots) as pigs that enjoy nibbling on “willies”.

                A number of groups are critiquing the BBC for the increasing number of mistakes and believe that the network should raise its subtitling and captioning standards. The captioning process usually involves a person viewing the program while speaking into a microphone that is connected to a computer. The computer then uses speech recognition to change the spoken words into captions for the hard of hearing. Speech recognition software is not perfect, and this is where the majority of the errors come into play. Such errors can occur on any network that is providing captioning; the reason that the BBC is under harsher criticism than other networks is because the BBC is the only broadcaster in the world to subtitle all of its programs.
                Despite the statements from a BBC spokesman that they “endeavor to ensure it is as accurate as possible,” they continue to receive regular complaints and demands to monitor the quality to reduce the number of mistakes.

If you would like to view some fun, intentionally incorrect dubbing, visit:

The Art of Audiovisual Translation: Fully Integrated Dubbing

           Translation is not only the process of converting written text into a different language. A client may also need audiovisual translation in many mediums, including audio dubbing. Dubbing is the post-production replacement of voices or sounds on a video after the original filming has been completed. It is used by translators to replace the spoken language of a video with a foreign language. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, foreign language dubbing is not the same as voice-over translation. A voice-over translation involves playing both the original language and the translation at the same time; the original language is heard quietly in the background with the translation played over the top. Voice-overs are typically used in documentaries.
                Although dubbing is used for films and other large-scale projects, it can also be used on a smaller scale for international marketing or other foreign communication purposes. But why would you choose to essentially recreate a video by dubbing it when you can just add subtitles to the original instead? The biggest reason for that would be because subtitles distract the viewers. They cannot focus on the images in the video because they are reading the subtitles at the bottom of the screen instead. This can be especially problematic in a technical video or a “how-to” kind of video where the images are crucial to the demonstrations.  While subtitles are a form of localization, dubbing allows for a more cohesive final product in which viewers can immerse themselves in the content as a whole, rather than dividing their attention.
                Dubbing quality can vary depending on your approach. It can range from using a colleague and home computer to utilizing professional-grade voice talent and an equally-qualified recording studio. Not only are there rules specific to the translation aspect of a dubbed video (e.g., the translation should have the same number of syllables as the original, and the language should be clear and concise), the entire process of dubbing a video is highly complex and includes many steps and rules.  It is important to understand the entire process of audiovisual translation to create an accurate and effective localized video. Using professional services that fully comprehend the dubbing process and rules can greatly improve the quality of the final product.
                If you are interested in having a video dubbed by a professional, like PLG, there are some guidelines to streamline the process:
·         Provide the translation vendor with the video transcript, making sure to inform them that the translation is to be used in a dubbed video
·         Discuss the target region with your dubbing provider so that they can match up the voice talent that best suits your video
·         Provide your vendor with the original video files and a separate music file for any background music
·         If possible, have the translation agency work directly with your vendor for the original video. This allows for a clear communication path should any technical issues or questions arise
                Precision Language & Graphics, Inc. is an expert in audiovisual translation; you can learn more about one of our recent dubbing projects by checking out this month’s project highlight at

Project Highlight: The Brew Express Dubbing Experience

         Le cafĂ©, c’est super !  

                       The PLG Feature Article this month is focusing its attention on the art of audiovisual translation, through audio dubbing. This October Project Highlight showcases Brew Express® and their increased use of Canadian French materials, one of which was an audio dubbing project.

                       Precision Language & Graphics, Inc. has worked conjointly with Brew Express® to integrate Canadian French translations into Brew Express®’ marketing plan. Brew Express®’ presence in Canada is not recent, but due to an increased demand from the consumer and supplier level, it has become essential to integrate Canadian French materials. PLG has supported Brew Express® by translating several instruction manuals into Canadian French and, more recently, by completing a Canadian French video dubbing project. The project started with the translation of the video script into Canadian French, then moved onto the voice over recording of the script. The final stages of the project included video engineering to replace the existing English sound file with the Canadian French counterpart. All-in-all, the project was a success, and it has been a pleasure working with Brew Express® to fuel their global communication efforts.

                       Brew Express® is a leader in the coffee maker industry, who provides their consumers with an aesthetically pleasing and incredibly efficient appliance. Brew Express® coffee systems connect directly with your water line to eliminate the filling process. They offer an elegant, built-in or countertop model, which has gotten a plethora of positive reviews. Brew Express® offers in-home installation, which enhances their already superior customer service. For more information on Brew Express®, visit their website at                     

                       For more information on PLG’s translation, voiceover, dubbing or subtitling services, please visit 

The PLG Reader is powered by