One of the oldest jokes in the world of course… so I had a little fun this morning playing around with photoshop and reinventing the wheel for this bicycle. It looks a little funny and I’m pretty sure it won’t be as smooth a ride as it could be. When I think about Audiovisual Translation this is the picture I have in my mind when I think about adding the ability to create a source text from a video that was provided without one in a CAT tool. Why do I think this? For a couple of reasons really:
- A CAT (Computer Assisted Translation), or TEnT (Translation Environment Tool), is based around the premise that you have a source file already. It’s designed to help a translator create a version of the source file in a different language to the one you started with.
- Audiovisual software… to use this nice definition in wikipedia is “a type of software used to create and edit subtitles to be superimposed over, and synchronized with, video.”
Both of these tools have a tremendous number of features to help their respective users carry out their tasks as efficiently as possible. Do I think audiovisual software providers should include Translation Memory features to help audiovisual translators carry out their work from start to finish in Subtitle Edit? Not really… and neither do I think we should add the sort of features that are available in Subtitle Edit to Trados Studio anymore than I think we should embed Photoshop features so that translators can touch up non-translatable images for translation. At a very basic level this sort of thing may provide something that a few users may find useful… but you only have to look at how these tools have developed over the years to see how specialised they are. I don’t believe there is a one-stop solution to everything for translators working in this field and I think we should do the right amount of cross platform development to support what’s really sensible. It’s horses for courses!
Those of you who read the interesting toolbox journal from Jost Zetzsche may have seen the “What’s new in subtitling translation tools? (Guest article by Damián Santilli)” published this morning… which of course was the trigger for my article today. Damián mentioned that I was baffled by a looming question over what happens if you don’t have the source text during a presentation I gave over a year ago when we released the initial version of the Studio subtitling plugin. Well… I don’t recall being “baffled”, but as I think about it this morning I guess I actually am! This would be because it feels like a step too far for a translation tool because we’ll never do it well enough!
As we created the SDL appstore solution we worked with many professional audiovisual translators who pretty much felt that a CAT tool would never be able to provide the features required by a professional to do their work. So we set about looking at what would be required to convince a professional that we could do this, and in doing so we became more aware of just how specialised Audiovisual translation is, and of which features would be needed to make the plugin useful enough for a professional to be able to do their translation work. It’s not trivial, we still have things to do, but I think we are a long way towards having a useful solution that already goes a long way beyond the capabilities of any other CAT tool vendor.
- more file type support
- ability to edit the time codes
- automatic insertion of gaps between frames
- keyboard controls
- wave form support
This is probably still not enough for everyone and we will enhance this further as needed to ensure an audiovisual translator can get the most out of using their preferred translation tool for this kind of work.
It’s a shame Damián could only refer to the webinar we presented so long ago… we actually delivered one last week which you can watch here if you’re interested and this will show you just how far we have come since then… but we still don’t create subtitle source files and I still doubt we will reinvent the wheel and deliver a solution to do this.
I do think we’ll see more integrations in the future as part of a workflow allowing companies to manage the creation of subtitles and subsequent translation into multiple languages, but this will be using APIs rather than doing a poor reinvention of the wheel. There was a recent press release from SDL who are doing this already with Canon. This type of thing is only possible with specialised software used by professionals in their field. So I think CAT tool vendors need to stick to what they’re best at and provide features that are really going to be useful for translators handling subtitling files for translation that have already been created professionally taking into consideration all the things that make good subtitles.
I have loaded the presentation from last week to slideshare so if you fancy a quick overview without sitting through an hour of listening to me this might be more useful: