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Subtitling enriches the best of both worlds of Noise and Silence

We live in a world of noise. We experience busy cities, bustling towns, crowded service stations, hectic roads, airports, and shopping malls. Loud announcements, traffic, road repairs and planes flying by, all bombard our air space with decibels that drown out what we might be trying to listen to or watch on screen at the time. Even at airports or railway stations, for example, schedule announcements are constantly interrupting our concentration. Wherever we are, be it at home, or on the road, we are regularly faced with visuals that seem to scream at us vociferously – from large giant plasma screens, bright flashing digital signage ads through to our own home televisions, laptops, or mobile phone screens.
Whether we are able to hear or have impaired hearing, we can find ourselves in blaring environments that make it very difficult and challenging to hear a news broadcast we might be playing that we need to concentrate on, or a message we want to hear on our phone. The solution is clear – we simply just need to switch on the subtitles in our preferred language, and they immediately allow us to step into a new world of clarity.
Subtitles play a hugely important role in making us feel included in all situations and help us to still take part despite the clamour around us. Whether we are watching a news broadcast on a public TV screen with a lot of background noise or trying to watch a movie on our laptop in a busy airport lounge or as a hearing-impaired person attending a conference or watching a movie at the cinema or a play at the theatre, subtitles help to bridge the communication gap and welcome everyone in to the circle of communication.
Following new regulations for broadcasters that require AV content to be made accessible to everyone, including hearing-impaired people, subtitling is finally being recognised as essential, making subtitles a valuable asset to programme makers.

Imagine being in a world where your sense of hearing has completely gone, and a wall of silence surrounds you wherever you go. It can be a lonely, isolating, and frightening place if you are not able to sense what is being communicated in a public space and if you feel cut off from everything. In this scenario, it is important that everyone is included and has access to public messages in public places, as well as being able to access news, plays, movies and television programmes, just as much as everyone else can and this can be achieved via subtitling options.
Hearing loss is an extremely important subject. The more it is brought to the forefront of debates, even if awareness is raised in the form of a sci-fi movie, for example, the better society will learn to take great care of those who struggle with their hearing. To raise awareness of the experiences that our hearing-impaired friends and loved ones endure is vital.
Owing to the disruptive chaos caused by the health crisis, it is a positive move in media to see more stories focusing on marginalised groups and demographics within the mainstream.
Empathy can be evoked, and perceptions can be changed by more nuanced cinematic depictions of what deaf people have to live with. Recent films that touch on this well include Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck (2017) and Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal (2019). In addition, Coda is another movie worth mentioning and is this year’s most anticipated drama release about a deaf family that live and work on the Eastern Coast of the United States. John Krasinski’s directorial debut, A Quiet Place (2018) has proven to be a great success for the deaf and hard of hearing community with deaf co-star Millicent Simmonds and the film’s use of American Sign Language throughout. This engaging thriller glances into a world where silence is golden, and where sound brings grave danger in a post-apocalyptic America, where the characters have to move in absolute silence to avoid alerting a mysterious pack of creatures that have intense levels of hearing.
Sound and silence become personified as characters in the film, helping to build up the tension, with the camera enabling the viewer to see a different perspective and to hear the world through the ears of the protagonist. These scenes powerfully help to shine a spotlight on the personal struggles people with hearing loss have to cope with. The scenes portray the sheer courage required to navigate through a silent world and depict the very real challenges that hearing loss can present to people in multiple situations.
These excellent films have brought the issue out in the open, giving deaf people the visibility they deserve. Hopefully these brilliant movies will inspire more filmmakers to look to the deaf and hard of hearing community in creative ways and to use subtitling to be more inclusive to everyone including those who speak different languages.
Filmmakers and broadcasters can benefit from subtitling software that provides them with flexibility so they can enjoy a seamless in-house network to share live output across multiple different production teams on a global scale. With reliable and affordable software systems on the market, subtitling is not burdensome or expensive.
SubtitleNEXT is a very popular and affordable system that is used for captioning live events and offline content in real time. It can stream content in multiple formats that are suitable for linear broadcasting, including VOD platforms and social media platforms. Defined as an exceptionally dependable subtitling software platform, it is no surprise as to why SubtitleNEXT is referred to by many professionals today as the “subtitler’s lifesaver.” Delivering to high industry standards, the system has an array of immediate resourceful tools and features.

The SubtitleNEXT subtitling platform provides subtitling professionals with many toolsets that can significantly enhance their work, one example being the “live dictation” function which can be used in live subtitling workflows in order to caption news and events in real time which is quite an exciting new development. Many more exciting features have been released and more are on the horizon for 2021. The team at SubtitleNEXT support hearing impaired charities and have a great interest at making their lives easier by supporting Bulgaria’s Listen Up organisation which champions their cause to be heard.
SubtitleNEXT already has a proven track record of success. Throughout the entire pandemic, it has continued to support customers, owing to its flexibility and remote capabilities. Many of the companies that have already adopted SubtitleNEXT include Polsat, Kino Polska, OiV in Croatia, Listen Up in Bulgaria, AMC in Hungary, Hayat, HD Media, OBN, University of Warsaw, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Doli Media Studio and The European School of Translation. Others include Europe’s largest Belgium-based production company Videohouse where SubtitleNEXT was used for well-known TV series such as Big Little Lies, Sirens, Vikings, and others.
SubtitleNEXT user, Veronique Denis creates accessible audio-visual content for the hearing and visually impaired and is an accessibility professional and specialist in real-time subtitling and Co-founder of Max Live Media Access Services in Belgium. She shares, “We strongly believe in media accessibility and in the fact that if you open up content for a smaller group, such as people with hearing impairment, there’s always a much larger group that can benefit from it as well. Think of the mother rocking her baby to sleep while watching a video or a neurodivergent person who gets overwhelmed at a busy railway station trying to obtain information. With today’s technological possibilities, which SubtitleNEXT showcases perfectly, not providing subtitling is almost equal to actively choosing to exclude a part of society. Luckily, over the last few years, awareness for inclusive media has increased and subtitles are now often expected as a standard service. This may be challenging for broadcasters wanting to meet accessibility standards and who want their content subtitled on different platforms. SubtitleNEXT enables us to meet broadcasters’ demands and high standards by being our one stop shop for all of our subtitling needs: live, semi-live or pre-recorded, the result is always of high quality.”

Veronique Denis, Co-founder,Max Live Media Access Services

Sonya Chakarova who is the Sales and Marketing Director at Pro Systems adds, “We are impressed with PBT EU’s refreshing approach and their impact in the broadcast sector with SubtitleNEXT. This remarkable software platform is playing a relevant role, not only in exceptionally constructive and helpful areas such as advancing accessibility for the hearing-impaired, but also in helping to improve communication and boost subtitling creativity in the broadcasting, media, and creative industries with a viable and affordable solution.”

Sonya Chakarova, Sales and Marketing Director, Pro Systems
Visit www.SubtitleNEXT.com for further updates.

“The Minari Controversy”

Following the Korean-language movie success of Parasite, which made history in 2020 by becoming the first film in a foreign language to win a best picture Oscar, new American film Minari received a Golden Globe and is now the talk of Tinseltown.

It was directed by American film director / screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung and filmed in America. Minari is unlike “Parasite,” which was a dark satire about class and society in South Korea.

The SubtitleNEXT team approached a few prominent professional language specialists in the industry to get their views on Minari, with regards to subtitles and the awards controversy generally.

The Director of Localization of the Americas at Pixelogic Media as well as the co-founder and Administrator of ATA’s Audiovisual Division, Deborah Wexler offered to share her thoughts on the topic.

Deborah comments on what the Minari controversy is all about, “Minari is an American movie by an American writer filmed in the United States. The film portrays the life of an immigrant family from Korea with two different American Dreams (the wife’s and the husband’s), but seemingly with no place for both. Minari won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Picture instead of Best Picture.”

Deborah further points out, “Because most of the movie’s dialogue is in Korean, it does not qualify for the Best Picture category. According to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association rules: ‘Motion picture dramas, musicals or comedies with 50% or more English dialogue are eligible for the Best Motion Picture – Drama or Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy awards.’” ¹(See Footnote)

To add fuel to the fire,” Deborah says, “It appears as though there have been exceptions to the rule, and those exceptions were not made for Minari.”

Deborah continues, “The diverse linguistic backgrounds of the US population create the engine that keeps pumping rich and vibrant words that are embraced by the English language as a whole. Some languages have the same number of words in their dictionary as they did three decades ago, but English just keeps expanding its vocabulary.

With the explosion of international  content creation, I would understand if the HFPA felt the need to distinguish between an American film award and an international film award to create a clear geographical distinction (with its own caveats, mind you).

If that is the goal, then one of the possible solutions would be to distinguish language from country of production. Perhaps something like Best Foreign Picture and Best American Picture. That would take language out of the equation.”

Deborah remarks, “This controversy reminds me of a joke I heard back when I was a kid:

[Jill: “I am French and speak French.”

Jack: “I am English and speak English.”

Paul: “I am American and speak English.”

Jack: “Why don’t you speak ‘American,’ Paul?”]

I think Minari does speak ‘American,’ Jack.”


On the topic concerning subtitling, a film like
Minari is certainly good news for boosting subtitles as Professor Agnieszka Szarkowska, who works at the Institute of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw, believes that in order to ensure the highest quality in subtitling, filmmakers should be interested in how their subtitled films can “speak” to audiences across the globe. “I think it’s great to see another success of a non-English speaking film reaching out to international audiences. I am happy to welcome more and more non-English language content which we can be accessed thanks to subtitles.”

Valentina Roldós is a subtitling and translation specialist based in Montevideo in Uruguay where her company Living Subtitles creates subtitles for films, television, DVD, VOD, and online streaming. She provides the following comments on Minari, “It started with Parasite, but once again a Korean-language film is making waves and challenging the mainstream cultural status quo. Minari is not a black comedy, but a sweet family drama. It cannot be just a coincidence that a new Korean-language film, also subtitled, is getting so much attention. Minari has already won multiple awards nominations, including the Golden Globes. It seems that things are definitely starting to change, and subtitles are starting to become more familiar for new audiences worldwide.”

Senior Researcher in Media Localization at the Computer Technology Institute & Press “Diophantus” in Greece, Dr Stavroula Sokoli shares her observations, “Interestingly, the film director of Minari, Lee Isaac Chung, considered making more of the film in English ‘to dodge the subtitling issue’. He had prepared a second version of the screenplay; in case he couldn’t get financing for a Korean-language film. According to Chung, it was thanks to the production company’s Plan B and the fact that its producer Christina Oh is also Korean American, that he was able to shoot in Korean. But maybe it’s also the fact that, especially after the success of foreign language films like Parasite, subtitles are not seen as such a big barrier any longer.”

Honorary Professor in Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton in the UK as well as Director of GALMA (Galician Observatory for Media Accessibility) at the Universidade de Vigo in Spain, Pablo Romero-Fresco notes, “Minari is a lovely film and I’m happy to see it’s been nominated for Best Picture at the forthcoming Oscars. It’s a modest but masterful film about the difficulty involved in sinking roots in a foreign land. It’s only fitting that it resorts to subtitles as the modest and deeply-rooted bridge that for so many years has enabled cinema to tell stories across languages and cultures.”

Footnote:

¹Golden Globe Awards Eligibility Descriptions. https://www.goldenglobes.com/sites/default/files/golden_globe_awards_eligibility_descriptions_2020_revisions_approved_3-19-20conformed_5-27-20.pdf

 

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Multilingual Film Productions rely on efficient Subtitling

SubtitleNEXT creator Kamen Ferdinandov talks through “what’s NEXT-TT in subtitling software to equip subtitlers”

Subtitles support upcoming filmmakers by providing accuracy and fluency. They play a vital role in ensuring that directors receive the recognition they deserve on the regional and international stage.

Subtitles are beginning to feature in international films. They help movie makers gain global recognition and even win awards.

Now in 2021, subtitles are a hugely important topic more than ever before. Subtitles recently hit the radar again with Minari receiving the Golden Globes award for best “Foreign language film”. The multi-Oscar award-winning South Korean black comedy thriller Parasite made history by winning best picture, a feat that no other subtitled film achieved in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards. The film’s director Bong Joon-ho used his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes to champion subtitles and encouraged audiences not to be put off by international films. He said that once audiences “overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles” they will be introduced to so many amazing films, further noting that we use only one language: “the cinema.”

This outlook reflects the mindset of Profuz Digital’s CTO Kamen Ferdinandov, a passionate and inspiring developer who also believes in opening audiences up to a whole new world. By creating a subtitling application to help surpass language barriers, he hopes to make subtitling more widely accessible and user friendly.

SubtitleNEXT creator Kamen Ferdinandov discusses what’s next in subtitling software to equip subtitlers with efficient toolsets and achieve results that filmmakers require.

From the very beginning, Kamen wanted to make a platform available to everyone at every level. This meant it had to be equipped with familiar text-editing application tools. He set out to make the subtitling software-only platform SubtitleNEXT to achieve just this.

Kamen notes, “No longer are subtitles only deemed necessary for those with impaired hearing but are perceived as imperative to anyone wanting to watch content when in noisy places or with the sound off.”

He points out, “When conducting timed text representations of the spoken text in another language, in other words, translating spoken text from one language into written text into another language, especially in the audio-visual field, you need to pay attention to the time restrictions and cultural differences. Therefore subtitling is never pure text translation, as there should always be some adaptation involved in order to transmit the message of the speaker. However, localisation is key to account for the viewer’s cultural references. The SubtitleNEXT system we have created, offers many helpful tools to assist the translation and interpretation processes incorporated into the new Smart Text Assist features for example. The software offers alternatives and suggestions when preparing subtitles which facilitates translation and adaptation processes, but it also provides additional visual materials such as emojis and a variety of text formatting and styling features which are really useful when interpreting.”

 

Kamen established Profuz Digital back in 2014 with his colleague Ivanka Vassileva to develop software solutions for the digital media industry. With headquarters based in Toronto, they use their R&D Centre in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia as a technology hub. Ivanka is CEO of systems integration firm PBT EU in Bulgaria and naturally took the position of CEO of Profuz Digital as well.

Profuz Digital and its SubtitleNEXT team are constantly evolving to meet the needs of subtitlers. Kamen expands further, “SubtitleNEXT stems from a proven and well-established 30-year legacy based on world-wide renowned subtitling tool for broadcasters “SubtitlePlus”, which originally evolved from “Subtitle”, one of the first file-based subtitling tools. 2016 marked the year that SubtitlePlus quickly migrated to the fully-fledged product SubtitleNEXT that is used today by many subtitling professionals. By referencing a system as “legacy” means that it paved the way for the standards that would follow and that it is tried and tested, solid, trusted and a reliable product that has had time to prove itself to the market.”

SubtitleNEXT is used by the likes of the University of Warsaw, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Polsat, Doli Media Studio, The European School of Translation and Europe’s largest Belgium-based production company Videohouse, where it was used on well-known TV series such as Big Little Lies, Sirens, Vikings and many more. In addition, the Hellenic American College of Greece invested in SubtitleNEXT to equip Masters in Translation students with key localization skills to prepare future subtitlers with a definitive career path to face the pace of demand in the translation and creative industries.

Defined as reliable timed-text subtitling software, it is no surprise why SubtitleNEXT is referred to by many professionals today as the “subtitler’s lifesaver”. Delivering to high industry standards, the system has an array of immediate resourceful tools and features. Available in a single compact application, it punches above its weight and can be put to work on heavy deadline-driven workloads.

Primarily aimed at audio-visual translation freelance professionals, through to Language Services Providers, production, post-production companies and broadcasters, SubtitleNEXT has proven itself as a time-saving, but also a productive profit-making product to media organisations worldwide.

Another exciting offering on the market is the localisation platform NEXT-TT – Profuz Digital’s complete cloud solution that combines SubtitleNEXT with Profuz LAPIS – already adopted by the likes of Canal + Myanmar FG, Linxstream Media, Doli Media Studios and IT Pros Subtitles.

“NEXT-TT can be configured to work in a “hybrid” way.” Kamen adds, “ Profuz LAPIS is our dedicated business management system that ties all business processes under one roof and adds an additional layer of security and creates a single environment to control the management, usage, structure, storage of business data and audiovisual processes. We want our customers to enjoy a user-friendly interface that anyone in their organisation can understand, and NEXT-TT is designed to be convenient and easy to use.”

Kamen continues, “SubtitleNEXT’s impact on Profuz Digital due to its historical role has been a positive one. To have an established product that the market already believes in, provides a great foundation to build further features that can bring efficiency speed and proficiency to users in a busy environment. In essence, the Profuz Digital outlook has always been fully committed to deliver simpler and versatile solutions without compromising functionality and performance.”

Kamen concludes, “Our secret is that even if we have a lot of experience we listen carefully to what everyone has to say, and we genuinely care about the challenges the industry faces. As a team, we take an interest. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have ensured that our systems can be used remotely where required to serve our clients. We encourage feedback and use it to implement positive changes, develop new capabilities to deliver ground-breaking functionalities that benefit users more than ever before. We never stop evolving, learning, and growing on this exciting journey, and we want to make subtitling fun for everyone to enjoy, across various genres, appealing to the novice and the pro!”

Further information and a free trial, visit www.subtitleNEXT.com and  https://profuzdigital.com/about-us/