This year is the fourth time I’ve helped translate the dialog of a Mimiverse film for subtitles and a voice dub. The first time I was asked to do this, I looked around the internet for hints and tips about this process and I found absolutely nothing of help. It reminds me of the first time I looked for information on the Sussex Branch of the Lackawanna Railroad. There was only sparse inforation available onlne.
So this being my fourth time, I thought I’d tell others in the wide world how we do it. The process seems to have been honed down pretty well.
First and foremost, I want it clear that I am not the leader of this process. I a merely a worker bee. George Baker is my Teamestro.
These translations are done for Christpher Mihm, who annually writes, casts, films, directs, edits, etc. a B-movie style film. He has 8 films under his belt, but only the last 3 have subtitles and voice dubs in Esperanto. The current project is actually a double feature of two short films!
Step 1: The Translating
After Mr. Mihm finalizes the script he sends it along to George. George places the screenplay into a table which gives us room to add the translations side by side. He distributes the scenes to the team via a link to Dropbox. There seems to be four of us translating this time. I’m priviliged to be among movers and shakers in Esperantujo, though I’ve never met any of them face to face.
First we have to count the syllables in the english lines. This is done to give us a target number of syllables for our translation. Closely matching the syllable count between the two languages helps avoid the ‘Godzilla Effect’ where the actors mouths either stop too soon or keep moving, not matching the spoken lines.
|SCENE 12 – Thick brush on outskirts of native village.|
|The group stop on the outskirts of a native village. Hearing something in the thicket, Elijah whispers to call Thorn to him.|
|1201 Elijah 4||3|
|Thorn, get up here.||Thorn, venu,|
|Thorn approaches the form, making some soothing vocalizations. Shengek, seeing the native rise, gasps. Glorin makes an observation.|
|1202 Gloria 4||5|
|It looks human.||Aspektas homa.|
|As Thorn tries to wave them to silence, Eloe mutters.|
|1203 Elijah 3||3|
|Uwo Vhaim!||Uvoŭ Vejm!|
|The native takes off for the village.|
|1204 Thorn 1||2|
|Elijah consults his watch.|
|1205 Elijah 55||49|
|We’re very close to the village. Looks like we’re dealing with humans.
We’ll approach the village slowly. I’ll lead. Lt. Thorn will be right behind me. Your friend might recognize you. Mike, you bring up the rear and watch the ladies.
|La vilaĝo tre proksimas. Verŝajne temas pri homoj.
Ni alproksimiĝos la vilaĝon malrapide. Mi antaŭiros. Leŭtenanto Thorn tuj sekvos.
Via amiko eble rekonos vin. Mike, vi postsekvu kaj prizorgu la virinojn.
Above is a fictitious example of how our script is laid out. The lines are numbered by a code consisting of the scene numer (here 12) with the line number added to it (1201, 1202…) We do not translate the scene descriptions, just the spoken lines. Also, the names are not Esperantized. In most cases this would add syllables and become prolematic.
When translating the lines, it’s not so important to render it word for word, but rather carry over the essence of the line in such a way that it avoids very wooden speech, and closely matches the syllable count of the English. Sometimes the English has many ‘flavor words’ that can be discarded in the translation. Other times there are so few syllables in the English that one has to really think to render a similar meaning. Trying to preserve a play on words or a joke is usually all but impossible. Someties this is solved by usung a proverb from the Proverbaro.
Shorter lines I can usually do on the fly, matching the syllables fairly well. Since Esperanto is usually spoken a little less clipped than English, it’s better to come in a syllable or two short than over, but we do go over 1 or 2 as needed. Longer lines I routinely translate on paper and then take account of the syllables. If I’m over, I go through and see what can be rephrased or clipped. As long as the essence of the lines remains, it’s OK.
Step 2: Proofing
We submit our work back to George and wait. The translations get a once over by George, then we are assigned scenes to proofread. Sometimes there are quandraries that must be worked out. There may be a stylistic error, or a convention established in an earlier scene may need to be brought forward to later ones or one from a later scene carried back to earlier ones.
Step 3: Assigning Parts
When the translation is finalized, George offers a part to the voice actors. There are more voice actors than translators and usually those willing get to voice act the same corresponding English-speaking actor. Last time this landed me in the lead male role. I was happy to do it, and glad I got through it.
George tells us which scenes to read (aloud). I use Audacity to record my line. My microphone is one I bought from Walmart for about $20 and it’s surprisingly sensitive. (I once had to reread a few lines because it picked up my wife playing the piano upstairs while I was recording.)
When we record each line, we begin by stating the film name, the character name, our name and the line numer we are reading. We then read the line at least twice with slightly different inflections. (I usually have to redo a few because I either slur something or speak too deliberately.)
The sound files are uploaded to a folder on Dropbox after being made into mp3 files, (Audacity makes them WAV files by default.)
From here the process becomes fuzzy. I know that George and a compatriot do some sound editing before the files are sent to Mr. Mihm before being added to the film.
Step 4: Subtitles, etc.
Last year George had us go over the text for the subtitles as well. He also had us help with an Esperanto version of the fil trailer, which is cool when it appears on YouTube.
The films always premier on or before Memorial Day and I usually receive my complimentary copy of the film a day or two after the premier. To me that compensation is enough because I also get enjoyment from the translating and recording. I also smile to myself for helping to add something that Esperantists enjoy watching. The films are usually shown at the main Esperanto conventions around he world each summer.
I’ve just posted my first woodworking video in Esperanto. It is an 8 minute video showing how I made a hand screw clamp. I actually have about 6 of these which I have made, but this is one of the fanciest, having copper caps on the handles. (I actually made two while filming. Clamps are best in pairs.) The Esperanto version is here (Click the text) and an English language version is here. Filming the process and then recording a voice dub seems to work best. In these videos the music is from a free copyright free source, but in future videos you’ll hear my wife strumming on her dulcimer.
Steve Ramsey (pictured at left) has a large following on YouTube where he posts fun and informative woodworking videos. He posts them as Woodworking for Mere Mortals.
I’ve decided to try and make a woodworking video, but it will be in Esperanto. I may or may not make a version in English. At the very least Ill provide English subtitles. To my knowledge there is nothing aside from a few articles on Wikipedia about woodworking in Esperanto. Figuring out terms for some woodworking terms will be the challenge, but hey, I’ll be adding to the worlds total sum of knowledge.
This project will yield other benefits. If the video goes well enough, I may make others about woodworking. Since I’ll be scripting these videos, I’ll eventually be able to edit the scripts and compile them into an Esperanto woodworking book. So we’ll see how it goes. I do not expect to become as popular as Steve, but it will be interesting for this Nura Mortemulo.
The Latest of my back cover translations:
Wolves of the Beyond
A Destiny Written in the Stars
By Katheryn Lasky
Lupoj de la Preterejo
Destino Skribita en la Steloj
En la severa sovagejo preter la striga mondo de Ga’Hul, lupopatrino kaŝas en timo. Ŝia novnaskita ido, tamen sana, havas torditan piedon. La patrino scias la striktan leĝojn de sia speco. La luparo ne toleras malfortecon. Ŝia ido estas forlasenda ĉe glacia riverbordo – kondamnita al morto.
Sed sola en la arbaro, la lupeto, Faolan, faras la nepenseblan; li pluvivas. Jen la historio de Faolan, la historio de kuraĝa lupeto kiu leviĝas por ĉiam ŝanĝi la lupoj de la preterejo.
I vowed to myself that I would have my Sussex Branch history book out and available before May. I succeeded. Remember the Sussex Branch is now available to the public. I have been researching this book for years, looking for photographs, studying newspapers on microfilm, and scrutinizing historic maps. I designed the whole book from typesetting to cover art. It’s finally done and now I can go on to my other 47 1/2 hobbies. As this book filters through the world of railroad aficionados I expect the response will be positive. I feel my only detractors will be those who expected a book that was something other than the history of the station that served the railroad.
In other news, The end of May is when the latest film from Christopher Mihm comes out. The Giant Spider, like his last two films comes with an alternate voice track in Esperanto. In this latest film I was fortunate enough to land the lead, (well, actually it was just offered to me. There was no audition.) I look forward each year to helping translate and then voice act for these movies. It’s a fun way to use my second language.
And for those of you who speak English, (yawn)…
I was honored to be asked to voice the hero in Christopher Mihm’s lasted movie, The Giant Spider. I, of course am voicing the Esperanto version of the hero, Howard. Since I’m born and bred here in New Jersey, I cannot help but have a New Jersey accent in my Esperanto speaking. Hopefully it won’t be too obvious.
At this point the Esperanto translation has been completed, mulled over a bit and finalized. My character has over 150 lines, so I got an earlier start than my samprojektanoj. My Esperanto task-master, George Baker occasionally asks that I redo a few lines because I didn’t quite get the essence of how they should be spoken. That is that because I need to mimic the tone of the English, I sometimes get it not quite right.
Still, this is a fun process from which I’m sure to reap benefits: translating, English into Esperanto, B-Movie style English, can be challenging, plus the idea that our word choices cannot be too obscure else we lose the listening audience of avid Esperantists around the world. Having spoken almost all my lines, I’ve found that reading the lines out loud after translating would be a good idea. I’ve found a few wicked tongue twisters for which I might have chosen alternate words. I’ll have to bring that up next year, presuming Mr. Mihm continues making bi-lingual films.
The movie comes out in May and even if you don’t know Esperanto, the English version is great viewing and fun as well.
At last report the Aŭdebla Biblio, the Holy Bible read aloud in Esperanto is a month away from being complete. 95.2 percent of the Christian Holy Book s are done. 57 chapters are still to be read (likely less than that right now.) I am happy to have been a part of this project, though not as big a participant as others. I read Ecclesiastes and the three Epistles of John. There’s still time to help. Visit here to find out how. Or you an check out what the Holy Bible sounds like read aloud in Esperanto here.
This is an Esperanto translation of the back copy of the Phillip Jose Farmer Riverworld novel The Dark Design
The Dark Design
La Malluma Intenco
by Phillip Jose Farmer
Jaroj pasis sur Rivermondo. Nacioj leviĝis, kaj kruelaj militoj estis batalataj — ekde la mortintoj de la Tero troviĝis revivigitaj en la bela nova hejmplanedo. Tamen, la vero pri la Etikuloj, la potencaj farintoj de ĉi tiu “postvivo,” restas nesciata. Sed kurioza mikspoto el la homaro celas ŝanĝi tiun situacion . . . spite la koston . . .
Maltima esploristo, Kavaliro Richard Francis Burton kondukas la plej rimarkindan vojaĝon pri eltrovado kiun li iam ajn entreprenis. Tuj sekvantaj estas Samuel Clemens, Reĝo John de Anglujo, kaj Cyrano de Bergerac. Inicigata per la promeso de finfinaj solvoj, ili mapas direkton trans la vastan polusan maron –kaj al la impona turo kiu altas super ĝi. Sed aliri tien estas pli ol duono de la batalo. Ĉar la morto sur la Rivermondo fariĝis nun timige finiga.