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How to translate a movie professionally?

how to translate a movie Eurotrad

Translating a movie from a foreign language into Italian is not something you can learn to do overnight. Movie language translation is a complex art that requires a combination of linguistic, cultural and technical skills that only professional language translators for movies can guarantee. It is not just a matter of translating the words from one language to another, but of conveying the tone, context and intention of the original in a way that engages the target audience. Let's see what skills are needed and how best to translate a movie into Italian, or another language.

How movie language translation works

When you want to increase the accessibility of audiovisual content in order to expand your global audience, translation becomes indispensable. Whether translating a movie from English into Italian or deciding how to translate a video into a foreign language, we must first understand how the process works and which of the various translation methods to choose.
A movie can be professionally translated in various different ways. The cheapest method is to translate a movie using subtitles. Basically, one or two people per language (the transcriber and the translator/subtitler) work on the translation of the movie and produce the subtitles.

The other professional method is the translation of movies with dubbing. Here, technicians, directors and dubbers also need to be involved. Finally, when deciding how to translate a movie, it is also important to consider using subtitling and dubbing together with audio descriptions, which narrate the moments between the dialogues. In this way, viewers with hearing problems, the visually impaired and those who do not know the language spoken in the movie will be able to understand the content in full.

Programs for translating movies: are they worth it?

With the advancement of technology, machine translation tools that can help in the process of translating a movie are increasingly becoming available. However, software for translating movies into Italian is not a solution. It can help speed up the translation process, but cannot replace the work of a professional language translator for movies. In fact, translating a movie requires in-depth knowledge of both the languages (source and target), not only in terms of vocabulary and grammar, but also when it comes to idioms, colloquial expressions and cultural nuances.
From a practical point of view, in order to understand how to translate a movie, it is important to know that the first step is precisely the transcription of the texts. At this stage, a program for translating movies can be useful. But in the next step, you need someone who can grasp the linguistic and cultural nuances, interpret the context and handle all the different challenges specific to movie translation, such as lip synchronism and the translation of non-verbal elements.
Fluency and naturalness are crucial elements of successful movie translation. So, while a programme for translating movies into Italian or any other language can be a valuable addition to the work of translating a movie, the skills of an experienced language translator for movies remain crucial.

How to best translate a movie

To best translate a movie, it is important to follow a few key steps. First of all, it is essential to understand the context and intention of the movie in the original language. This may require the translator to either watch the movie several times or research specific cultural or historical elements.
Then, it is important to work carefully on the translation of the dialogue, taking into account linguistic and cultural nuances and striving to maintain the tone and rhythm of the original. This may require some creativity, especially when it comes to translating idioms or colloquial expressions.
Localisation is a crucial element in translating a movie or video that must be fully understood by the audience. Only with proper localisation can the audience appreciate the context of the movie and grasp every nuance, such as humour. For example, think of the movie Terminator 2, when Arnold Schwarzenegger says the famous line 'Hasta la vista, baby'. American audiences loved this exotic note that played down the situation but its effect would have been lost on audiences in Spain. In what way can we have a movie translation that is faithful in its dialogue but also in its more intrinsic meaning? In this case, when translating the movie, the idea the translator came up with was to keep the touch of humour, with the line 'Sayonara, baby'.
There can be many ways to understand how to translate a movie, because movie language translation is not only about dialogue. It is therefore important to pay attention to, for example, body language, music and background noise that convey different moods and meanings to the words that are spoken.

Redazione Eurotrad

October 30, 2023

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