The Future of Film and Video Localisation – A Symposium on Subtitling

On May 8th, the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, Confucius Institute and the Embassy of Spain co-presented a symposium on audiovisual translation, highlighting a new direction of research at Victoria University.

On May 8th, the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, Confucius Institute and the Embassy of Spain co-presented a symposium on audiovisual translation, highlighting a new direction of research at Victoria University.

Professor Jorge Diaz-Cintas, the world’s leading authority in this field, delivered the keynote lecture to a packed audience at the Wellington City Gallery. The lecture was followed by the screening of two short films by Miya Wang and Huanhuan Zhang, two recent MFA graduates from the Miramar Creative Centre.

In a wide-ranging, informative and highly entertaining lecture, Professor Jorge Diaz-Cintas delivered a tour-de-force about how this often over-looked area of translation is in fact at the leading edge of how video is changing the world. Any sense that subtitles aren’t very interesting was dispelled in the opening slides of this masterclass, as we learnt that in a globalized world increasingly dominated by video, the art of and technology around subtitling has become the most dynamic area of literary translation.  With 300 hours of video being uploaded to Youtube every minute and 5 billion hours watched on Youtube alone every single day, and video increasingly being used in professional communications, the demand for subtitling is growing exponentially, is likely to continue unabated for the foreseeable future. China, the largest single country market for video and gaming, is developing its own particular set of sub-titling characteristics, such as “danmu” in which an audience will add their own sub-titling or commentary (via mobile phones) at film screenings.

The NZCLT lecture was followed by the screening of two short subtitled films written, directed and produced by two promising young Chinese filmmaking graduates from the VUW Miramar Creative Centre Master of Fine Arts, Miya Wang (“The Other Side of the World”) and Huanhuan Zhang (“How to Break Out of Prison”).  The films were very well received by the audience, as was the fascinating panel discussion at the end, involving Prof Diaz-Cintas and the young filmmakers.  Many thanks to NZCLT President (and VUW lecturer in Chinese) Luo Hui for his expert emceeing of this memorable evening.