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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Understanding the whole process

China and UK

I had to get an educational video I am working on translated into 6 languages. Now I can't do the translation myself or the recording myself. And there is little I can do to help the experts that did the job either.

But I was still keen to attend at least one of the recording sessions. So I went up to see the Chinese Mandarin version recorded.

Obviously, in the short term, this is a money-losing venture for me to do this. I could be doing something else and I had to drive a couple of hours to attend.

But a direct knowledge of as many parts of the film making process as possible is always to be recommended. Seeing it in action, seeing what is simpler than you thought, seeing what is more complex and seeing the skills of all involved is never a waste of time.

The impressive part for me was the ability of the voice over person to time her voice to the picture pretty much as she went along. I wouldn't be worried to challenge her and the team with tougher projects in the future after what I saw. But an eye-opener for me was that actually the really hard work was done in the transcription / translation stage beforehand. It is in this stage that the timings are worked out in a very detailed manner, taking into account that different languages take different amounts of time to say the same thing. If anything, it is this stage that it is more crucial to take an interest in. A lesson learnt.

To writers, I say try to do the same, see as much of the film making process as possible. It helps you do your work better too by knowing where you fit into the whole scheme and what impact your rewrites may have and on whom.

1 comment:

Raving Dave Herman said...

Hi Tim, I took up subtitling as a day job a couple of years ago, mostly corporate and educational material, but some TV too.

Having to render every line of dialogue in a limited number of characters (always less than what is actually said), strictly sticking to a maximum reading speed, and taking shot transitions into account, have all done wonders for my screenwriting.

It's made me a lot more aware of just how many ways there are to say the same thing. It's opened my eyes to the enormous differences in rhythm, speed and vocabulary in different peoples' speech. Also, being able to watch someone speak frame by frame, is an amazing way to pick up on subtext (especially deception)!

Experiencing these "other" aspects of filmmaking up close is a great way to learn that screenwriting involves so much more than just spinning a good yarn.