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Subtitle, Dubbing, Voiceover Translation: Local Films Go International


Foreign Language Films Gain Worldwide Recognition

Regardless of beliefs, language and culture, people appreciate a good film when they see one. More foreign films are being recognised all over the world because of their artistic cinematography and interesting plots. Some foreign language movies have even done better than Hollywood films this past decade. According to IndieWire.com, here are the top 10 highest grossing imported films of the 2000s:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Taiwan, 2000, $128,078,872

2. Hero, China, 2004, $53,710,019

3. Pan's Labyrinth, Mexico, 2006, $37,634,615

4. Amelie, France, 2001, $33,225,499

5. Jet Li's Fearless, China, 2006, $24,633,730

6. Kung Fu Hustle, China, 2005, $17,108,591

7. The Motorcycle Diaries, Argentina, 2004, $16,781,387

8. Iron Monkey, Hong Kong, 2001, $14,694,904

9. Monsoon Wedding, India, 2002, $13,885,966

10. ExperTrans, 2005, $13,839,658

Although Europe has widely accepted audio-visual translation, such as subtitles, dubbing and voiceover translation for films these past few decades, it is only recently that the rest of the world have finally acknowledged this as well, opening their doors to foreign movies and recognising them in prestigious international film awards.

Non-fiction Media Use Voiceover Translation for Direct Quotations in News and Documentaries

Voiceover translation is not only practised in films and literary media, but also in non-fiction genres, such as documentaries, speeches, and news. As much as possible, the voiceover translations should show the authenticity of the content, that's why the voiceover portrays the speaker's voice, regional accent, and language variation. This way, the viewers would feel that what's being said in their own language is a representation of the original message. It is important that the voiceover talent is appropriately suited to the original speaker's voice, age, gender and personality.

Audio-visual Translation (AVT) or Screen Translating: Subtitling, Dubbing or Voice-over

With paid TV, DVDs and Netflix, more foreign language films are reaching the other corners of the world. Some viewers are still trying to overcome their fears of the language barriers, but most viewers have already accepted these films from other nations. But we have to take note that there could be possible dialogue changes or altered texts, which are unavoidable, because it's translating it to a localised setting or version.

There are some viewers who prefer watching imported shows or movies through subtitling, dubbing or voiceover in the local language. Below we have outlined these audio-visual translation styles and their purposes to better differentiate them:

• Subtitles or subtitling

  • Quickest and cheapest method of translating content from a foreign language to the native language of the viewers
  • Translating or transferring from oral language into a written language
  • Viewers can hear the original dialogue and the actors' real voices
  • Interpreting what is meant, instead of translating how it is said (meaning is favoured over form)
  • Dialogues in condensed or compressed form to suit the viewers' reading speed (purpose over form)

• Dub or dubbing

  • Voice actors record the dialogues in the local language
  • Actors' original voices are not heard anymore, overlapped by the voice actors
  • Can be expensive, because you need to hire voice actors
  • Dialogues are based on the local preferences and interpretations, this can sometimes effect the original emotion or meaning of the dialogue if not done properly and professionally
  • The unfamiliar foreign cultural lifestyle and values could be expressed differently to suit the viewers' culture (again, this can result in losing the emotional impact of the original version if an inappropriate voiceover is selected)
  • Localising imported films or shows, helping a wider audience understand and appreciate the culture from which it originally came

With the help of subtitles, dubbing or voiceover translations, local films get the chance to be viewed and appreciated internationally. People everywhere are recognising foreign films because of the availability of audio-visual translation methods.

If you have any material, fiction or non-fiction, that requires voiceover translation, please contact us and we'll show you the gallery of our voiceover talents.

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