Both transcription and translation are ways to capture and communicate language. In the context of video production, they are both important parts of creating captions and subtitles. Transcribing captions and translating subtitles can broaden and strengthen your audience because they create accessible alternate versions of the information from a video in a text format. For deaf and hard of hearing viewers, captions are a necessity to understand and enjoy your content. And translated subtitles can help your videos reach across language barriers to new audiences. In both transcribing and translating in a timed text format, it’s important to create a final product that plays smoothly along with the video and is readable to viewers. You will find tips below on creating quality transcriptions and translations. Let’s get into some basic definitions and differences between these two essential parts of video accessibility.
What is Transcription?
Transcription is the process of converting spoken language into a written version in the same language. These written versions of speech can be kept as simple transcripts similar to what you would find on YouTube and can be helpful for people to follow along with the video. Some transcripts can be modified for enhanced viewing with speaker tags or interactive features like clicking the transcript to go to a specific point in the video. These features can be helpful for students watching lectures online or for technical content that has a fast turnaround rate.
Transcripts can also be turned into timed transcripts. Timed transcripts are used as captions, which are synchronized with the video or audio and provide a visual representation of the spoken content. There are simple captions which only cover the speech in the video and there are also SDH or closed captions which contain speaker tags and important non-speech sounds like a ringing phone or knock on a door. Which kind of captions you choose to create depends on your intention for your final audience. Creating closed captions is the most common for online content, since they fulfill accessibility requirements as well as integrate with video platforms that have closed caption settings.
How to Make Timed Transcriptions High Quality
When creating high-quality timed transcripts, it is important to make them readable. This can be achieved by considering factors like line length, number of lines, reading speed, and splitting lines between grammatical units.
- Lines in each caption should look balanced without one line being much longer than the other. As a general rule, captions should not have more than two lines so that the captions don’t end up blocking other content in the video. Too many lines and they will start to creep up over the speaker’s face!
- Also make sure that your viewer has enough time to read your captions as the video plays. The Amara subtitle editor has a handy built-in warning system that can tell you when the reading speed is too fast for a caption.
- When creating quality timed transcripts, try to break each line at a natural point. If you are unsure of where to break a line, say it out loud and pause at the line break. It’s good to keep grammatical units together, like an adjective with its related noun.
- It is also helpful to view the video as a whole and pay attention to details, such as technical terminology or workplace safety information. Familiarize yourself with the speakers’ names and ensure accurate spelling.
- Consistency in spelling is also important. If certain parts of the speech are unintelligible, it is recommended to mark them for later research or ask for assistance.
- Getting someone else to review your transcriptions can provide valuable feedback. Two heads are better than one when it comes to reviewing transcriptions. And especially if you are working on a video with technical content, difficult audio, or multiple languages, getting a native speaker to help you out will result in a better product.
How to Get Started in Transcribing Captions
To get started in transcribing captions, all you need is a video, a text editor, and a way to set the timing of the final captions.
- It’s easy to get started for free with Amara Public. Simply sign up, add a video URL, then enter the editor to start transcribing captions for your video. Amara Public has integrations with YouTube and Vimeo that make it easy to export subtitles for videos on your own channels. You also have the option to download your final captions to use offline or upload elsewhere.
- There are also free tools available online to make captioning easier. There are many different video subtitling software, tools, or editors made for different needs and workflows.
- For larger projects, consider exploring Amara Team plans, which offer autocaptions as a starting point. It is important to review and edit autocaptions to meet quality criteria before making them public. Amara Teams also come with features like customizable workflow, managerial control, private workspace, multiple seats, and direct integration for seamless teamwork.
- Get fast, film-quality captions by ordering human-reviewed AI captions from Amara On Demand. Our team of in-house linguists are ready to review, edit, and deliver subtitles for your project on demand!
What is Translation?
Translation involves converting content from one language to another. It is a more skilled and nuanced process than direct translation.
- Direct translation is what you would find in something like Google Translate, where a basic word or phrase is the input and the output is something translated word-for-word.
- Translation is more than just word-for-word input and output. Translators identify, capture, and preserve the meaning of what is being said, not just the words themselves. A skilled translator knows how the different attitudes, cultural expectations, and language connotations affect their final audience. The challenge of translation is to invite audiences to cross barriers into understanding content in a different language.
- Translation is different from interpretation because it is not done in real-time. Institutions like the United Nations have interpreters to ensure that information is not lost across language barriers. Translation is usually done from a recorded video file, audio file, or text.
We made our platform for both transcription and translation in mind because both help support our mission of making a more accessible media ecosystem. In the Amara Editor, there is a reference panel feature that allows you to see the timed transcription in the original language while working on the translation. It is also easy to copy timing from the original set of subtitles, which saves time in synchronizing the final subtitles.
How to Make Timed Translations High Quality
Similar to creating high quality timed transcriptions, make sure that your timed translations are easy and pleasant to read. Keep your lines balanced, make sure they match the video, and always pay attention to reading speed and synchronization with your video.
- To create quality translations, it is recommended to only translate into languages that you are natively fluent in. A native-level fluency is very important to preserving meaning from one language to another.
- If you are learning a language, it might be useful to watch videos in that language with captions in your native language. But you should never practice a new language by creating translated subtitles because other people rely on those to access video content!
- Go the extra step and consider localization if it’s appropriate for your project. If your video is intended to reach a specific audience that uses a variant of the translation language (European Spanish instead of Latin American Spanish, for example) then it is worth localizing your content. The differences between variants can be subtle or bold, from simple vocabulary choices to major verb conjugation. The more different the variants of a language, the more impactful localization will be. If you show your audience that these translations are speaking directly to them, they are more likely to listen.
How to Get Started in Translating Subtitles
Online translation tools can help you get started.
- The newly updated Amara editor has built-in translation features like a reference panel, the ability to shift subtitles, or copy timing for easier translation and synchronization.
- We also put together a list a while back on other online translation tools, too, because translation is good in and of itself so we want to make it as easy as we can to help you get started.
- Explore our editor and other tools to get a feel for what your specific subtitling needs are. Try some tools out, see which features are the right fit for you, and have fun subtitling!
- If you are intimidated by getting started with translating subtitles, hire some experts! If you have a large amount of video content, videos in multiple languages, or just videos in languages that your team is not natively fluent in it might be time to ask for some help from trained translation professionals. Our in-house translation team, Amara On Demand creates and reviews film-quality translations in over 50 languages and delivers them right to you!
Transcription and translation contribute to accessibility by making content available to a larger audience. Creating a text version of speech is like opening another entrance to your content. They are both ways to get people interested and make them feel welcome. For people with hearing or audio processing disabilities, transcription gives them a way to engage with content that they couldn’t before. And for audiences across language barriers and in specific language communities, translation and localization can help your content bridge that barrier for connection and communication. Ultimately, creating transcriptions and translations for your content shows foresight, professionalism, and care for your final audience. Working both of these into your video production cycle is an investment in growing larger audiences that feel more engaged.