By: Kavita Peterson

Kavita Peterson is a Japanese to English translator working in Kochi Prefecture as a co-ordinator of international relations. She specializes in localisation, particularly pertaining to video games and web sites.

Approximately 55 people came to Shibuya, Tokyo on Saturday, March 17 to attend a seminar on audio-visual translation presented by two translators experienced in the field, Ian MacDougall and David Nist, and moderated by Julianne Long. The speakers introduced us to the world of audio-visual translation, especially concerning the translation of subtitles.

Attendees came to understand the unique challenges offered by the medium, such as the space and timing limits faced by translators and the need to let the visuals do most of the talking. We also realised that there are few set rules for how best to translate subtitles; indeed, our two speakers themselves employed different styles and methods in their work, and brought very different perspectives to the stage. We also learned about the passion and dedication that is required to make a living from creating subtitles.
After the presentation was a lively question and answer session. It was apparent that many attendees were familiar with the work of the two speakers as several questions revolved around the decisions behind the translators’ subtitling of certain films! Other questions included how to make the initial break into audio-visual translation and procure clients in the film industry, as well as what constitutes an ‘accurate’ subtitle.

After the seminar a networking party was held in Shibuya where attendees enjoyed a drink and were able to ask the afternoon’s speakers more questions. Overall it was a wonderful afternoon and I am sure many of the participants left with a much greater understanding of audio-visual translation and whether it is the right field for them.