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Matinee Blog

crowdsourcing for video translation

The advantages and pitfalls of crowdsourcing a translation

Translating and subtitling films, whether they’re a big Hollywood blockbuster or a homemade how-to video on YouTube, can make a huge impact on their reach. While a viewer may be able to more or less follow what is happening if they don’t speak the language, using dubbing or subtitles can make it possible for them to fully comprehend your message. One new move in translation is to turn the job over to the crowd, allowing a video’s translation to be crowdsourced. However, the results might not be ideal.

How it works (and how it doesn’t)

The idea behind crowdsourcing a video translation is that you get the best ideas everyone has to offer. The theory is that it gives you a better chance of finding the nuances of spoken language, both in the original language and in the translation. This makes it popular for idiomatic speech, rhyming speech or slang. However, this isn’t always the case.

The crowdsourcing process starts with uploading the video to the internet and asking for translations, whether through a website like YouTube or a crowdsourcing website. While this can be done cheaply, you don’t always get the best results quickly. In fact, there can be some problems with simply trusting the crowd. Unless you have a native speaker who can check your crowdsourced translation, you might end up with something completely different.

What to do with a crowdsourced translation

If you have crowdsourced a translation, it’s best to not simply leave it as is. For the best translation, and one that you can trust as an accurate representation of your company’s message, it often requires a few steps. A crowdsourced first draft can be good, but it should be checked by a professional translator that specialises in video translation scripts. This can protect you against anyone playing a joke, inserting humorous slang, or otherwise undermining the quality of what you have written.

Crowdsourced translations are also not necessarily the most effective if you have a technical or specialist topic. This can be because many amateur translators who help with a crowdsourced project won’t know industry or technical terms. It can also be less efficient because you don’t need the use of idioms and other such language elements. In these cases, a professional translator can offer you the best translation possible.

How to add it to your media

Once you have your perfect translation, whether handled individually or by a crowd, you’ll need to correctly apply it to your video. Whether you add in new audio through a voice-over agency or have your video translation added as subtitles, you should choose an experienced video production company that can accurately match the new script to the video.

Here at Matinée, we’re not sold on the crowdsourcing way of translation, it could work well for someone looking to translate a homemade how-to video with no budget but for professional communications, there is no doubt in our minds that having your script translated by a trusted translator is the best way forward. Crowdsourcing could be used in the first instance but to us, it seems like it could complicate and confuse the script that is then handed to the professional translator.