Combining our linguistic and technical expertise

Rendering the spoken word in written form as precisely and concisely as possible is a challenge we welcome, and one that we have the technical expertise to truly master – we don’t just translate subtitles, we also take care of the spotting (determining the time at which each subtitle appears on and disappears from the screen). Over the years, we have provided the subtitles for memorable films, cool commercials and fascinating documentaries, but we are particularly proud of the work we did for the multilingual Scuola Vivante film project.

Subtitles fact sheet

The client

Since 2009, Diction has been translating and proofreading texts for the Scuola Vivante, a progressive private educational institution approved and recognised by the state. The Scuola Vivante comprises a school and a workshop, and offers courses for children, young people and adults.

The task

We were asked to provide subtitles in German, French and English for the multilingual one-hour film Mare Nostrum, produced by the teachers and students of the Scuola Vivante. It certainly wasn’t easy to stay focused on the task at hand while watching such enchanting images and listening to the beautiful music that accompanied them.

But that was only a minor distraction – the real challenge lay in translating dialogue from a number of different varieties of several languages while capturing every cultural and linguistic nuance and conveying them in captions which had to be kept as short as possible. It was also important for us to retain the often poetic nature of the richly descriptive dialogue despite the limited space on screen.

The solution

What are we most proud of? We were of course honoured to be involved in such a wonderful project. But we were particularly proud of the praise our work received from the renowned Swiss editor and spotter Rosa Albrecht: “I was positively surprised by the fact that the subtitles had already been spotted and were delivered in the format that I work in. This really reduced my workload when I was going through the film. For me, it is vital that the viewer can read the subtitles at a glance, and the producer placed great value on a translation that was true to the original text. Diction excelled in satisfying both of these criteria.”

This was nothing new for us. As for many other film projects, we not only translated the subtitles for Mare Nostrum, we also took care of the spotting. With the help of a professional software program, the time code for each shot is defined, and the translation is then adapted so that each subtitle fits perfectly within the time code. Our wealth of experience enabled us to perfectly capture the mood of each speaker and convey their dialogue as accurately as possible despite the limited number of characters we were able to use.

Our subtitling specialists have also cracked the time code for a number of other challenging projects. In a recent project, they provided the subtitles for a commercial for the canton of Graubünden, which has been viewed online over 500,000 times.