Streaming platforms are on the rise now: more popular TV shows and movies mean more subscribers and… fewer professional translators. Those who are able to create high-quality subtitles and scripts for voice-over actors. People watching Netflix´s hit series Squid Game constantly complain about the poor quality of subtitles in French, Hindi, and even in English. Why does it happen to such a top project?
Major international language service providers (LSPs) reveal an actual concern: a severe shortage of quality translators. The film industry evolves faster than the translation industry does. Now, roughly one in 50 applicants can pass a qualification exam, according to a CEO of a big localization company. To handle an increasingly global audience, LSPs have to work with a broader pool of subtitle translators, while only 10-15% can deliver the high quality streaming platforms thirst for. This leads to a growing demand for additional editing and checking, but still, the final quality appears to be not high enough. The latest machine translation engines don’t cope with the task either: AI can create a word-by-word translation, but it’s only human who is able to transform it into an authentic text suitable for subtitles and voiceover.
Lately, Netflix has been gaining popularity in the Asia-Pacific region. The lack of professional Korean, Chinese, and Japanese translators forces the industry to be really inventive and translate subtitles via English templating. Let’s say, there are more Korean > English translators in the world than Korean > French ones, right? And there are even more English > French translators. That’s why the Korean source is often translated into English and finally from English into any target language. As a result, the translator creates subtitles for the target audience without even speaking Korean, the original language of the TV show!
Another reason is both ancient and simple: subtitle translation is a fascinating but not the best-paid job, sadly. To expand the talent pool, LSPs and the film industry need both time and money. As for now, according to a survey conducted in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, about 70% of Netflix viewers had stopped a TV show/movie in the last year because of poor subtitling or dubbing quality. And so the lesson is: no matter how great your product is, never underestimate the meaning of translation and localization.
More info is available in the source article here.
I have known the team of Lingvista since 2002. We worked together on a project which involved localization of golf management software and translation of system manuals. Besides, they provided interpretation assistance to me during my business visits to Tomsk and Moscow...
» Read more General Manager of Albatros Datenservice GmbH Volker Schorp