A Call for Subtitles

  / by Matt

Well, the time has come to ask you all for some help for the DVD. While the timing is not final, the script has been locked down for a while, the voices have been recorded and selected, and it’s a good time now to start doing some translations. The Blender and wider open source community is a very multinational one, and we’d all really love to have a subtitle menu on the DVD packed full of all kinds of languages.

Joeri Kassenaar will be working on producing the DVD and has very nicely volunteered to co-ordinate the subtitles. If you’re interested in contributing a translation for the DVD, please email Joeri at:

and mention who you are, what language you’d like to translate, and perhaps if you have it, examples of things you might have translated before.

Right now, we have the English script, for which translation can be started immediately. When we have final dialogue timing throughout the movie, we can also provide translators with a low-res preview video, in order to do a timed subtitle file. We can probably also provide a rough timed transcribed English subtitle file, to use as reference.

We don’t want to distribute the script (or a preview video) widely before the DVD is released, so we will have to be selective with only a few translators. Maybe one to translate, and one to doublecheck if possible, I don’t know. We’d also like to be able to trust translators to keep things secret too, as to not reveal any spoilers, and of course translators will be credited on the DVD. Anyway, let’s start from here and see how we go!

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99 Responses to “A Call for Subtitles”

  1. knowsnuttin said on 2 Feb, 2006:

    (Sorry for the double post)

    Rather than “without having seen” the original text, I meant “without consulting” the original text. Otherwise, you’d have to get a different proofreader for each iteration (ick).

  2. Myster_EE said on 2 Feb, 2006:

    Joeri: Okay, so you can put subtitles in separate files…That’s good.

    I wasn’t sure that anything outside of the DVD standard could do that. (Lack of need, really).

    Well, this is good news! What standard are the downloadable version going to be encoded in?

  3. Jackson Guardini said on 2 Feb, 2006:

    Hi there! Congratulations for the progress and for the quality you are geting!

    Hey, Rui Campos, I live in Brazil and I can can translate to Brazilian Portuguese after you finish the portuguese one. (if you need some help just contact me), thanks! obrigado!

  4. Afan said on 2 Feb, 2006:


    Hey there, my name’s Afan, and I can do a translation from English to Hindi, since I speak the language fluently.

  5. Anton said on 2 Feb, 2006:

    I hope i’ll get the russian or german part!!!
    or both!!! ;)

  6. Deathguppie said on 3 Feb, 2006:


    Iway illway anslatay ethay olehay ilmfay!!!!

    just kidding..

    Lovin it.. loving it…

  7. Shish said on 3 Feb, 2006:

    What format is the downloadable version going to be? Containers like Matroska can easily handle multiple audio / video / subtitle streams. As for external subtitles, I know mplayer and vlc at least can play autio/video from one file and subtitles from another, so you could release the plain audio / video file straight away and extra translations will come later.

  8. Claire said on 3 Feb, 2006:

    knowsnuttin : Nice scheme but the risk is you might be too much focused on the words when translation is about the message. It seems to me that it is too automatical a system, because you separate too radically text and context, the latter being as important as the text. Do not forget that the images and grammatical structures used in cultures and languages that differ (whatever the degree of difference) differ too. Just a little example : an expression to say that when you experience something nasty you don’t want to do it again; in German you litterally say that a burnt child is afraid of fire when, in French, you say that a cat boiled with hot water will be afraid even of cold water…
    Oops. Sorry for taking so much room… :-)

  9. Joeri said on 4 Feb, 2006:

    I’m getting an overwelming amount of mails, thank you very much.
    I’ll be sending all mailers a reply this weekend and I’d like to close the following languages for submission :

    Chinese Mandarin

    The rest can keep them coming, This is not the complete list of languages I’ve received, it’s just the list of languages I’m going to close the call for submission for now. The rest is still under evaluation. I’ll publish a list of all languages later.

    Thank you again for your overwelming response.

  10. Gunnar Stahl said on 4 Feb, 2006:

    @ Deathguppie :
    You should first buy a spellchecker for pig latin (-;.
    The right translation is:
    “Iway illway ansla_r_tay ethay ole_w_hay ilmfay!!!!”

    You forgot the “r” and the “w”- ts ts ts…

    Your version translates to some unspeakable insultings about blender and orange and the like…


  11. GuiFF said on 5 Feb, 2006:

    Hi to everybody! This is a fantastic project so I’d like to do all my best translating this film to spanish, catalan and german. Of course there are a lot of people who’d like to do it but I’d like to try it for at least a part of it. Thank you all.

    Visca Catalunya!

  12. Nathan Letwory said on 5 Feb, 2006:

    I sincerely hope the “translate – translate back” method to verify translations is *NOT* used.

    Due to technical limitations in subtitle translations and the way translating works in general this is doomed to fail as a proofing mechanism.

    Some pointers for those who are going to do subtitles and have never done that before (and also haven’t had proper training in translation for that matter):

    * Font size

    Don’t ever use small fonts because you’re running out of space. This is one of the technical limitations of subtitling you’ll have to cope with. A word-for-word translation is often impossible, esp. in this case, so be resourceful, try to think of ways to fit it all on screen by paraprasing the original text. But keep focus on the essence of the message at all times.

    * Timing

    On average nine words can be shown in one subtitle. 5 seconds is an absolute minimum for a subtitle to be visible to allow the viewer to read the subtitles.

    And for you all who translate, keep in mind that the endresult must be fluent and natural. A word-to-word translation is absolutely *NOT* what is wanted. What you want is to have an immersive experience for the viewer. Be resourceful within the confines of the TV screen – 9 words per subtitle, large font, 5 seconds per line minimum.

    BTW, this means that translators should see the entire short movie to be able to see that their translations are correct for the scenes and that the timing is correct too.

    If at all possible, go to a local university and see if they have a translation departement. I imagine students being helpful :)

    Good luck to you all and thanks for your efforts! :)


    ps. yes, I studied translation theories and I am a linguist, my current girlfriend is writing her master thesis on subtitling.

  13. Troler said on 5 Feb, 2006:

    Hey GuiFF!!
    I have proposed to make the catalan subtitles too!! XD
    A veure si com a mínim es tradueix al català. Estaria molt, però que molt bé.


    I Visca Catalunya! ;)

  14. Rui Campos said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    Nathan: Thanks, your knowledge is surely valuable and welcome.

    — Rui —

  15. Glaurung said on 6 Feb, 2006:


    I’m also for the catalan translation. Catalonia is a very active country in Open Source, associationism (is in english like this? XD) and democratization of digital resources, so catalan cannot remain away from Elephants Dream!
    Congrats to Orange. Sorry for the theft :(

  16. joeri said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    Thank you Nathan.

    I’ll give a full discription of what I expect from the translators to the translators.

    For instance; I’m sure that the Thai subtitle is different from the Swedish one. So a wordcount is not sufficient, it needs to be a character count. And we also have a line count. In Dutch a 3 line translation is seen as ugly, but for English it is often used. Some languages use center subtitling and other left-aligned.

    Again I’ll brief all the subtitlers myself and personaly…
    And assist any non professional (although we’ve got many professionals, even people who’ve translated/subtitled LOTR. ) that might need help.

    The first task is to translate the script, so everbody that has the dvd can read what the animators used to create their visual to.

    Thank you.

  17. joeri said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    I could still use some more help on asian and (north)african languages.

  18. Garland said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    I would like to do a translation in Afrikaans and represent South Africa!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Reda said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    Hi joeri,

    I’ve already emailed you a few days ago and wonder now if you’ve got my message since I’m a north african ;).
    Well north africain simply means arabic. Do you mean some dialect rather than standard langauage ?

  20. Reda said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    Proofreaded version :D

    Hi joeri,

    I’ve already emailed you a few days ago and wonder now if you’ve got my message since I’m a north african ;).

    Well, north african simply means arabic.
    Do you mean some dialect rather than the standard language ?

  21. Nneo0 said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    my english is few, but i cant traduction to latin america Spanish (castellano), from the traduction of malefico in spanish.

  22. Nneo0 said on 6 Feb, 2006:

    my english is few, but i CAN traduction to latin america Spanish (castellano), from the traduction of malefico in spanish.

  23. joeri said on 7 Feb, 2006:

    Reda: Yes, thank you, you are on my list.

  24. Tomy said on 7 Feb, 2006:

    @joeri: I’ve also emailed you about slovenian translation but I got no replay.
    Have you recieved my email?

    Nice day

  25. joeri said on 8 Feb, 2006:

    Before the end of this week everybody will get an email.
    And I’ll post more news here this weekend.

  26. William Reynish said on 9 Feb, 2006:

    I submitted a mail for a Danish translation, as I know there are quite a few Danish Blender users around. Plus, if you’ve got Swedish, please consider Danish!

    (I’m not exactly proud of my nationality given the current politics situation, but anyway…)

  27. Jørgen said on 9 Feb, 2006:

    I can translate into Norwegian.

  28. Matt said on 10 Feb, 2006:

    I call dibbs on english ===> Korean!!!

    HA HA

  29. GuiFF said on 10 Feb, 2006:

    This is a call for my catalan colleagues. First of all, excuses cos i can’t writte properly. My keyword is not running as it used in my Mac.

    Ara toca parlar amb vosaltres, Glaurung i Troler. Podem enraonar per mail, guifftc@gmail.com, i discutir, si ens deixen fer la traduccio, com es fa, si es reparteix, si ho fa un i es passa per corregir o el que sigui. A mi encara no m’han enviat cap mail o sigui que segurament alg’u de vosaltres ja el te. La meva opinio es, doncs, que compartim aquesta traduccio.

  30. Troler said on 10 Feb, 2006:

    Hi GuiFF!
    Jo tampoc he rebut encara cap correu. Bé, t’escric al teu correu electrònic.
    Fins ara!

  31. joeri said on 12 Feb, 2006:

    I’ve found time to send all the people I want as a translator an email. So didn’t you get an email? Well, then the translator did not reply to me yet if he/she really wants todo it.

    There are now 38 languages in the making. What I personaly find very cool. I’m looking into forum software to let the help of the proof readers be possible.

  32. Tomy said on 13 Feb, 2006:

    So everybody who didn’t get your email won’t translate.
    Can you list all languages which the movie will be translated to?

    Nice day

  33. NAcho said on 13 Feb, 2006:

    Hi, I can help translating it into spanish (Central/South America), i have time and no problems to help. Just email me and you will have my answer soon.
    I get known about the project because i was looking like a “free-movie-project” where all have an oportunity to participate, and i would be happy helping at least in this.

    Have a nice day!


  34. joeri said on 14 Feb, 2006:

    As far as I know I wrote *everybody* an email back.

  35. Sunny said on 14 Feb, 2006:

    i can give the trnslation in hindi language for the indian subcontinent distribution.

  36. Sunny said on 14 Feb, 2006:

    i can give the translation in hindi language for the indian subcontinent distribution.

  37. NAcho said on 15 Feb, 2006:

    I didn´t get any answer :( . see you

  38. Rubén said on 15 Feb, 2006:

    Many DVD’s (some with full 4 languages (EN,FR,ES,GL) audio and subtitles) in our portfolio (look at the mail domain : http://www.domain).

    We would like to traduce subtitles to Galician (GL).

    Also , we could translate it to Spanish(Spain) too, but we saw many and sufficient volunteers for that.

  39. joeri said on 15 Feb, 2006:

    visit http://orange.excellentWhale.com for details.

  40. Edoardo said on 16 Feb, 2006:

    Hi, if there is nobody else, i can do the italian translation.

  41. bogdan said on 16 Feb, 2006:

    I can do the translation into Romanian. Please send the file.

  42. Aleksandar said on 27 Feb, 2006:

    I would like to translate the movie to Serbian. It would be a great thing for promoting Blender and Open Source in my country. I’m looking forward to that.

  43. sunil said on 14 Mar, 2006:

    Keep up the the good work.
    Any help in english to hindi translation ?

  44. Ankur said on 25 Mar, 2006:

    I am willing to do Hindi translations. If it is not too late for it.

  45. mickabuffa said on 12 Apr, 2006:

    I have some time for the Brazilian Porugues translation if its needed…

    []’s to all

  46. María Ferreiro said on 20 May, 2006:

    Hi there,
    I am a Galician translator and I am also very interested in free software initiatives. I will be very pleased to translate the film into my mother tongue if it is possible.


  47. Alia said on 26 May, 2006:

    I found out about the project a bit late, but if you need translation to Indonesian for elephants dream or any future movie. I would be happy to do it.


  48. Caesirian said on 6 Jun, 2006:

    Hi, if you need help with Spanish i can help, by the way how can i get subtitles in spanish for the movie? i want to show it at my school but not everyone knows english