Translation and Interpreting in 150+ Languages
YouTube Makes Caption Translation Easy
September 26, 2012 - By: - In: Multilingual Web - 11 comments

Yesterday, YouTube launched a new set of subtitling tools by linking the YouTube Video Manager with the Google Translator’s Toolkit. The toolkit is a translation platform designed to aid human translators, and also incorporating Google Translate, that most excellent machine translation tool.

I haven’t tried it out yet, but this looks like a big improvement over the old method, which I never figured out. Commercially, we do all our subtitling using professional tools, I think. (We excel at subtitling, BTW, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my company… OK, yes, I am, but my clients say so too.)

So I’m not sure if we’ve ever done anything professionally on YouTube. I should call someone from the studio and check, but it’s getting late, and  I’ve found that those 3 am calls don’t go over very well with the troops, so I try to confine my late-night calls  to those evenings when I’ve really had way too much to drink.

Anyway, YouTube subtitling now looks easy as pie. The new translation tools support 300 languages, although machine translation is available in only (!) 65.

Here’s how it’s done. Start by turning on the caption track for the video in YouTube Video Manager . Click the handy “Request Translation” button, and YouTube will prompt you to pick a language, any language. Select the one you want and YouTube will provide you with a caption translation document that can be edited in the Translator Tool Kit.

To match caption to screen, the video is embedded on the translation page, so that visuals are right there as you translate/caption along. A preview feature makes checking easy, essential if you start with the machine translation version provided automatically by YouTube on the first pass (available in 65 languages, including Lao). This is also useful to allow multiple edits from different contributors, which is the secret to good translation, where too many cooks do not spoil the translation soup.

Once you have the sign off, click “Publish to YouTube” and your latest translated creation is there for all the world to see and comment.

Which is good and bad, when you consider all the jackass spoor tracking across YouTube pages with idiotic and nasty commentary. I was glad to learn that since this summer, YouTube has been pushing users to identify themselves to improve the quality of posts and comments in order to clean up the site for advertisers and as another way to promote the use of Google+.

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of doing guerrilla translations for viral YouTube content, and this upgrade looks to make that easier to accomplish.

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