Subtitling Workshop 2018

14th February 2018

Richard ran a workshop called “Learn to subtitle – in an hour!” which, as the name suggests, taught students the basic principles of subtitling in just an hour (or as it ended up being, 45 minutes)! Subtitling is the addition of written text to a video, representing the auditory verbal channel with a visual verbal channel, meaning audiences are expected to do more work. Therefore, some cultures traditionally prefer to use dubbing or voiceovers to translate films into their language.

Richard explained that the international standards which govern subtitling change the way we have to translate. He gave some examples of bad subtitling, which can involve lagging behind the spoken words, or not staying on the screen for long enough. To avoid this, the standards state that there must be no more than two lines on the screen at once. It is necessary to time the subtitle with the audio, and use different colours, or italics and normal type, for different actors or voices. The maximum line length is 35 characters, and there must be a minimum of 1 second for every 12 characters. Typically, spoken text will be reduced by a third, with adjectives and adverbs omitted to focus on nouns and verbs. This ensures that the main message gets across, and only extra detail that is not essential to the meaning of the phrase is cut out.

Richard demonstrates how to use Aegisub

The workshop then introduced Aegisub, the subtitling software that Richard was teaching us how to use. Subtitling software allows the user to easily divide a video up into timed sections, and add subtitles for them. It also checks the subtitles for conventions of length and speed. However, it doesn’t check the quality of the translation produced; this is left up to the translator. After a brief introduction we put what we had learned into practice, and subtitled a short section of an English film (as the focus here was learning the principles of subtitling rather than translating).

Students put their newly-learned subtitling skills into practice

After we had had a few minutes to do this, Richard showed us an example of the film clip with subtitles that he had prepared earlier. This demonstrated ways to overcome common problems in subtitling, for example you can blend subtitle one with another to gain more time on the screen, or lose some stylistic detail by replacing the phrase “is not a bad guy” with “is a good guy”. He then explained that there are two ways to save a subtitled clip. The first is called soft-subbing, where the video file is left intact and you have to load the subtitle file in separately. If you want to upload your file somewhere (i.e. YouTube) or embed it in a webpage, you need to use the second method, which is called hard-subbing. This is technically complex, but means that the can embed in a webpage. Finally, Richard explained that it is necessary to have a video file in order to subtitle, and warned students that they need to be careful regarding copyright laws if hosting a subtitled video on a website.

– Miranda

Round Table with the Professionals

Hello everyone and welcome back!!

Last week we had the amazing opportunity to meet some of the most experienced professional translators, who not only offered tips and tricks on how to emerge yourself into the translation world, but they also addressed some of your questions/concerns and I am sure that this event was much appreciated by everyone.


Among the professionals, we had the MA Translation graduate from Exeter University, Matthew Bird, who currently works at Sure Languages and therefore was able to offer an overview on the translation agencies. In terms of free-lancing, Natalie Soper accompanied us, along with Lisa Simpson and Alison Exley, the last two having gathered more or less 20 years of experience in the translation area.


Having said that, here are some of the tips and advice they offered, everything drawn from their very own experience:

  • Get a job in the area that you are interested in, in order to gain some insight information and only then go ahead and become a translator
  • Travel a lot, if possible move abroad to get accustomed to the culture and traditions-this will lead to a more accurate translation in/from that certain language
  • Do NOT be afraid to contact direct clients through phone rather than e-mails
  • ALWAYS be positive
  • Look professional in the e-mails that you send
  • Create your own website- it makes you look reliable and committed to your work

In conclusion, it turned out to be a very fruitful afternoon, which I am sure aided you in making some more steps towards a bright future translation career. Also, here is one of the websites recommended on that day:

Looking forward to seeing you again at the Final Gala! All the best! 🙂 17035247_1327942620605050_1022205024_n


The Translation Business Project is back!!!

Exeter AwardYes, The Translation Business Project is back and we have very exciting plans for the 2017 edition!

The project will start in the first week of term 2 with an introductory event and will run until week 10, when our final gala will take place.

This is what previous participants say about this project:

‘It’s been great fun and an incredibly worthwhile and enriching experience!’

‘I actually spoke in detail about this project in a graduate scheme interview I had the other day, so it has been very useful in that respect!’

‘Really enjoyed it from start to finish. Great to see how a translation business would work, to get the chance to hear from professional translators. Would do again!’

‘It was a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience to see the project grow week by week, culminating in the final presentation during the gala.’

‘I was constantly thrilled about developing my team’s translation project, every step taken was a reward in itself!’

‘This project has been great to develop my leadership skills. It’s rare to actually be put in real life situations where you have to jump in and find the balance between trustworthiness, friendliness, and problem solving outside of a working environment. I have discovered aspects of business life which have not been part of my taught programmes, and I find it very empowering and stimulating to have had so much responsibility as well as the opportunity to learn so much!’

Don’t miss this excellent opportunity!
To get involved please follow this link



Feedback from our judges

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in the Translation Business Project 2016 and to those of you who came to our final gala event. We all had a fantastic time hearing about all the superb projects that our students had been working on for the last two months. As in the two previous years, we had the pleasure to have our professional translators Cathy, Alison and Lisa with us acting as judges and here are their valuable comments – Thanks!

Once again, it was a real pleasure to judge the presentations in the Student Translation Business Project. From past experience, we knew it would not be easy to choose an overall winner and it has to be said that this year, standards were the highest we have seen yet. In the end however, one group did stand out for its across-the-board performance. Congratulations to the French team and Blogmondial!

You will find some more specific feedback here but first some general observations.

All teams were very professional and had clearly understood that there is more to translation than simply replacing words between languages. It was good to see you considering how your translations would be used and interesting to hear how you had overcome a range of translation-specific issues. It was also evident that teams really had worked as teams with everybody contributing and supporting each other. As ever, we were bowled over by the work and creative thinking you had put into your projects.

If we were to pick one area that could have been improved upon it would be the whole issue of calculating rates and profit margins and, hence, overall pricing. It is so important to remember that translation is a service not a commodity, and pitching low is not sustainable in the long term. Admittedly, this is a tricky area that many established translators struggle with, but if you have a great service, there really is no need to sell yourselves short.  You should also be aware that although there may appear to be “norms” with regard to pricing in some market segments, there are no “industry standards” and many clients are prepared to pay very well for a top quality job.

We hope that everyone who took part in this project has found it a worthwhile exercise. It was heartening to see your enthusiasm for foreign languages, but the skills you used here are also relevant to many other professional areas.  All the very best for the future!

Alison, Cathy and Lisa

Judging Criteria

With just over a week to go until the final gala , one of the judges themselves gives us an insight into what exactly they’ll be looking out for…

We are looking forward to coming back, for a third year, to judge your presentations at the student translation business project gala. From previous experience, we know that the teams will be putting a tremendous amount of thought, work and creativity into their projects. It is always a pleasure to see the final translations, but don’t forget that we are also judging the business aspect of your work.

Here is some more information about what we will be looking for on the day:

Understanding of the translation process in a working situation:  what was the purpose and meaning of source text and what is the purpose of your target text? What specific translation issues did you come across and how did you go about resolving these?

Translation industry awareness:  what research did you carry out into the translation industry? How have you gone about costing and pricing your translations?  What information have you included in your invoices?

Entrepreneurial skills: by this, we mean general commercial awareness, marketing strategy, professional use of social media, etc

Transferable skills: here, we will be looking for evidence of teamwork, time management, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Overall presentation skills: are your presentations well structured? What visual aids have you used?  Have you demonstrated clarity of ideas and effective communication skills?

And finally…

The viability of your business models

Best of luck to all the teams.  See you on March 16th

Cathy Dobson

Roundtable Event

Our most recent event this Wednesday was an absolute success, so thank you to all who came. The opportunity to put practical questions about the industry and the nature of the job to professional working translators with decades of experience was, I’m sure, appreciated by all.


We were lucky to be joined by four translators with a wealth of experience among them. Matthew Bird, an Exeter graduate who finished his MA Translation at Exeter in 2014 gave us insight into the world of translation agencies, as he is Project Manager at Sure Languages right here in Exeter. Hannah Keet, another Exeter graduate, also joined us and spoke about the advantages of freelance vs in-house translation, having worked for Amazon at their headquarters in Luxembourg before moving back to the UK to work freelance. Two of the judges from our upcoming final gala, Alison Exley and Lisa Simpson were present too, and with 39 years of translation experience between them answered a whole variety of questions on every aspect of the industry, as well as what they’ll be looking out for when they judge the projects in just a few weeks time.


The four of them provided a wealth of knowledge and useful tips for budding translators, among them:

– Try calling agencies instead of sending out emails. The more personal approach makes you seem more interested and shows you’ve taken the time to contact that individual company as opposed to clicking ‘send to all’ with a CV.

– Contacting clients directly instead of working through an agency has its benefits such as better rates of pay (due to cutting out the middle man) and often longer time scales as well as being able to build a good rapport with your clients. However, agencies have their benefits when it comes to dealing with trickier clients!

– Getting to grips with CAT tools is unavoidable, so embrace them early on – you’re going to need them.

All in all a great afternoon and some very valuable advice for those wishing to begin a career in translation. We look forward to seeing Alison and Lisa again in a few weeks time at the final event. In the mean time try taking a look at some of the websites that were recommended on the day – happy reading!


New year – new project!

Welcome to the Student Translation Business Project 2016!

This week we had our first introductory event to kick off the project where the teams got to meet each other over tea and biscuits and start to formulate some ideas for their new business ventures. Already there seems to be a wide range of really interesting ideas so I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

I’ll be posting after all our exciting upcoming events so watch this space.

But that’s all for now – Jessica.

Introductory Meet