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How Hollywood Is Working to Build Its Audiences Through Translation

Those of us involved in translation are fully aware that there are jobs that are easy and others that are difficult. This evaluation depends mostly on our field of expertise (for some of us, a welding manual is simple while for others it is their worst nightmare, requiring hours and hours of research).

However, most translators face a real challenge when it comes to translating and localizing dialogues, especially those containing a lot of slang. “Cars 2” was released around the world in June and July in 44 different languages ​​and every country faced the same daunting task of finding the right tone for the character of the tow truck Mater to sound equally simple-minded and not-too-bright for a variety of local audiences .

With the present habit of simultaneous releases of movies around the world, this task of dubbing and subtitling is becoming more specific and, due to the lack of time and little margin for error, it may be entrusted to specialized teams such as Spanish Post Production, a division of Trusted Translations.

Among the multimedia translation tasks we perform:

Subtitling: The spoken or written content is translated and placed in lines on the screen. It requires a meticulous and highly technical process to ensure that the public can understand each scene and therefore must be perfectly synchronized.

Dubbing: The translation of the oral content replaces the original, also orally. This requires not only precision and timing, but also work on the text to match the times (as in the case of voice-over) or that the words match the movements of the actor or speaker’s mouth (lip sync). Dubbing is still the preferred choice for children’s movies or those with audiences with lower levels of general education, and for many it is the best way to reproduce the original experience.

“You have to be very obsessive about it,” says Sandra Willard, who spent the last 30 years dedicating herself to writing detailed reports to help translators and others involved to do their job. She also claims that everyone must be aware of the latest trends and pop culture for the translation work to be accurate and to make sense.

We must also abandon the idea that Spanish is the same for everyone. When the Spanish-language version of “A Bug’s Life” was released, the translation of the title used “Bichos” for almost every country, except for Puerto Rico where the word means, in local slang, a part of the male anatomy.

Elena Barciae has 25 years of experience in this specific branch of the translation and says, “Good translators are actually writers who love working with language.” She adds that, to create subtitles, “you also have to love the movies, because you have to see many of them, over and over again.”

Discover the media translation services at Trusted Translations.

(Versión en español: