Translation at the Oscars 2017

A round of applause to the transcribers, translators and voice actors

The world of entertainment recently turned their attention to the Academy Awards or “Oscars” which are awarded to recognize cinematic achievement in the United States. The iconic gold statuette is coveted by anyone involved in the production and distribution of film. Whatever your favorite film, be it the 2017 best picture winner, Moonlight or other nominees La La Land, Lion, Fences, Hell or High Water, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, or Hacksaw Ridge, film remains one of the most popular entertainment form that reaches and impacts international audiences. Among the hairspray, the couture dresses, sharp tuxedos, champagne and tears, give a round of applause to the armies of language and localization experts who help the film and entertainment industry bring content to international, multilingual audiences.

Film can bring countries, communities and cultures together and language plays an important role. Successful translation significantly impacts the global reach and distribution of film, whether through great subtitling and dubbing or powerful international marketing campaigns. The Star Wars films have been translated into over 50 different languages. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope film was the first major motion picture to be dubbed into a Native American Language. Five translators worked for 36 hours to translate the 90-page script to Navajo. Outside of mainstream blockbusters, there are also many important documentaries that raise awareness of certain world issues.

It is not just film that continues to draw growing audiences but the steady growth in movie streaming services and continued use of DVD and Blue Ray. Constant fresh content and 24/7 availability of existing content delivered by services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, now means entertainment and all the associated advertising and sponsorship opportunities can cast their net wider and target emerging markets. Most content streaming services are available in multiple languages including website content, OS and user navigation. Content delivered by these subscription services can be browsed and viewed (whether dubbed or subtitled) in many languages. In fact, Netflix is available in more than 190 countries and in over 20 languages.

Behind the scenes, the media and entertainment industry engages the expertise of an army of language and localization specialists to help reach audiences all over the world. Source content must go through a number of processes before the final multilingual product can be distributed to a new audience. Language services often involved in the localization of entertainment content include transcription, translation, transcreation, dubbing subtitling, multimedia engineering and much more. Outside of the actual creative content, there are also masses of legal and compliance content that must be understood by multilingual stakeholders, such as local film distributors and certification boards. Many blockbusters include significant licensing and sponsorship deals for brands, such as agreements facilitating product placement. All parties must consider where the film will be viewed to ascertain the effectiveness and legality of any sponsoring or advertising activity.

With a creative medium like film, getting entertainment to resonate across diverse cultures is a big challenge. How audiences react to comedy, tragedy or sexual references varies across regions. Even the way we behave in cinemas varies. For example, when a film finishes in Germany at a cinema, the audience will stay seated as the credits roll and then clap. Whereas in other countries, the credits have barely started while people fight their way down the stairs to exit the theater. It takes extensive expertise and local knowledge to ensure content is localized in a way that delights the audience, without diluting the overall global brand and concept of the film.
Localization and translation affects everything we do. When you settle down to enjoy your next film or television series, as well as when admiring the Oscar-winning performance, admire the work of the linguists and language specialists all over the world who brought you an evening’s entertainment in your language.

Contact Welocalize about our multimedia, subtitling and transcreation services. Email for more information.