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What’s New in Subtitling Translation Tools?

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Review on subtitling translation tools (July 2020), originally published on Jost Zetzsche’s Tool Box Journal.

Translation environment tools are steadily improving. The overwhelming presence of neural machine translation (NMT) in every translation suite, plus the constant improvement of technologies (e.g., upLIFT from SDL Trados Studio) are changing the way we approach translation with almost every project. In audiovisual translation (AVT), however, despite technical improvements and innovations in apps from streaming services, it sometimes feels like we subtitlers are still working in much the same way we did back in 2000.

Back then, we faced a huge leap in methodology and tool availability. We rapidly went from receiving physical materials to subtitle to logging into our clients’ servers to download media and then email back the subtitles. Although some things have changed in the past few years, professional subtitlers working for direct clients like production companies, or even film directors themselves, have been using the same resources for a while now: free software and software that’s too expensive for some freelancers. So, what have we been missing in between? Well, features like the ones found in tools technical translators use (e.g., memoQ, Wordfast, and Trados Studio)— although we also have our own options, kind of. Let’s dive into some of possible software options to help us in our work and see what’s new for subtitlers.

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