Translation terms, or ‘Project Manager-speak’ explained!

by Knockhundred Admin

The translation industry, like any other field has some fairly specific terms which sound rather confusing to those not working in translation on a day to day basis. Here we look into some of the more unusual terms and explain what they mean.

‘Right, we’ve got an MP4. It’s Spanish. 45 minutes. We need a one-step into English, with burnt-in, sentence-by-sentence time-codes and speaker labels. The budget is pretty tight, but we can be fairly relaxed on the turnaround.’

This is the sort of request we receive every day and it obviously takes a little time to get used to the terminology - but what does it actually mean? Well, let’s take this phrase by phrase…

An MP4 is a file format that supports both video and audio. So in this case, we would have received a (45 minute) ‘standalone’ video file to be worked on. A ‘one-step into English’ can also be styled as a ‘direct translation’. This is where a video file has been recorded in one language (in this case Spanish) and the client needs the transcript in another language (English). This is distinct from ‘standard’ Spanish transcription, where the recording is in Spanish and the client requires a same-language transcript (also in Spanish). There are, of course, occasions where a client requires both same-language transcription and direct-translation, in these cases we produce a ‘dual-language transcript’. Talk about confusing!

In terms of time-coding, ‘burnt-in, sentence-by-sentence time-codes’ has quite a specific meaning. If a time-code is ‘burnt-in’, it means that when you watch the video, the time-codes (a series of numbers with colons in between) actually appear overlaid in the video you’re watching. This will be because the video editor has supplied footage with all the original timings appearing actually on-screen. It’s also usually distinct from the timings that you would get if you were to play the MP4 in a video-player, or in transcription software, so it’s important for us as Project Managers to make sure we know if the time-codes are ‘burnt-in’ or ‘video-player’ time-codes. If we produce a transcript with the wrong ones, then it is likely to need to be re-done, which can affect the delivery schedules and also impact negatively on our relationships with customers.

As Project Managers, we’re familiar with translation-speak. However, one thing that we usually learn (the hard way!) is to ensure that the spec is crystal-clear for us, before we commission any work. And if anything is ambiguous or unclear? Well, we just ask.

Should you require our help with Spanish direct translation from audio or video to English do not hesitate to get in touch with us and our team will do their best to help you. We offer Free Quote & File Uploads