Hands-On Subtitling Workshop report: Subs are a tricky lovely business!

When we came up with the idea to organize a subtitling workshop on our favourite island of Corfu, none of us had imagined how many people would be interested.

We slowly started to set it up thinking about the way we wanted to present it, what we had to offer and what we wished to gain from this endeavour, as a team but on a personal level as well. It was to our great joy and excitement to see more than 100 people responding to our call for participation and expressing their wish to take part in this effort, showing us that young people are really interested in new things.

We managed to be in Corfu –back to base– after a lot of stress, scheduling and work by the entire team. We had on our side organizations that contribute to this type of endeavours in Greece and abroad as well individuals who offered their help. We were really anxious to meet the “new blood” of the Ionian University, as well as all those people who wanted to be with us at our first stop as a team: young people we wanted to bring together and to whom we wanted to show that great things can happen through cooperation.

Overcoming the small problems and difficulties –as it often happens with all new things– we commenced the first day of the workshop, on the 25th of February with the first group of 15 participants, followed by the second day, on the 26th of February when we met the second group, of another 15 participants. Young students from different departments of the Ionian University, as well as others who, for example, honoured us by coming all the way from Athens, or teenage foreign language students; all of the them, young people who wanted to take part in our workshop, each one for their own reasons.

We started the workshop with a presentation about the profession of the subtitler in Greece –during which we hope we solved many questions regarding the situation in this field– a presentation of the technical part of the subtitling process and its different stages, as well as of some basic subtitling rules, using examples and discussion.

In the second more practical part, a free subtitling software was presented and an effort was made so that everyone could get an idea of how this specific programme works. The aim was for the participants to “warm up” by doing some subtitles themselves and become familiar with the software and with the subtitling process in general. Using some videos as examples (a documentary and a feature film) they got a first taste of subtitle cueing and how this affects the translation part in the subtitling process.

The participants, despite being there for many consecutive hours –although many would have wanted to have more time– showed genuine interest for the subtitling process.

Among other things, we realized that the profession of the subtitler remains in general terms a “ghost-profession”, even among foreign language students. This is despite the fact that subtitling has become a quite beloved hobby and young people really enjoy watching foreign TV series and films, as most of them had no idea about the current rates or the time a professional needs to work on a subtitling project. We really hope we offered some useful information as well as motivate them to become more involved.

At the end of the workshop, the participants were separated into teams that would later subtitle some English and German short films and documentaries which will be screened during the Audiovisual Arts Festival in Corfu in May. In this way they will all have a sample of their own personal work, which is a product of our work during the workshop as well as a result of them getting to know each other and cooperating.

We hope that all participants had an interesting and a comprehensive first experience with subtitling and that they have become motivated to continue learning about this field. We want to thank them for their support, as well as for offering us a special experience and we hope we could meet again in the future!

Special thanks to the instructor and member of the Language Project Team Haroula Tsoutsia, the Ionian University and the Audiovisual Arts Festival for hosting us, Goethe-Institut Athen, Lisa Krane and FilmAkademie Baden-Württemberg for the material they kindly provided us with, the foreign language centre Erasmos for its support and the professors of the Ionian University Mrs. Anastasia Parianou and Mrs. Dalila Honorato for their cooperation, their time and their advice, the student Nantia Zerva for her help, as well as our very own Sylvia Kouveli for the photo and video documentation of the workshop as well as of the rest of our events.

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