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Subtitling Music / Pop songs on TV What's the best way to do it? Rate Topic: -----

Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:39 AM (#1) User is offline   mafiti 

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Hi all,

I work as a subtitler in the UK and am getting really frustrated over how best to subtitle music. There's not really many guidelines and we basically just do what we think is best, but what do you think?

I've just spent hours subtitling pop videos and don't really feel they will do much to increase a hard-of-hearing person's viewing pleasure as the subtitles are so fast, I can't even read them myself! Plus, we often get the lyrics wrong because most of the time we don't get the official ones, but have to search the internet because record companies won't provide lyrics (copyright issues, apparently).

I always try to include descriptions of the intro music, or musical interludes. Is that a good thing or is it just annoying? What about programmes like Later with Jools Holland or the BBC proms? Is it best just to give the title of a piece of music, eg. Beethoven's 5th Symphony, or is it better to actually describe what is going on in the music, eg. GUITAR SOLO?

Leave your suggestions here! Thanks,

Mafiti
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Posted 05 August 2006 - 09:43 PM (#2) User is offline   ciuk 

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Personally I can hear the music, I just have problems understanding the lyrics. So from a personal point of view I just want subtitles of the lyrics. I don't have any difficulties with the speed of them.

Why do TV companies, especially the music channels use copyright as an excuse not to subtitle music. The late, departed Top of The Pops had subtitles for ages, so if they could do it why can't others.
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Posted 06 August 2006 - 10:28 AM (#3) User is offline   mafiti 

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Copyright should never be an excuse used by a TV company for not providing subtitles at all cos it's got nothing to do with it. In my experience, it's the record companies who are unco-operative and go on about copyright or intellectual property. What I don't understand is most bands publish their lyrics in their CDs, so why not put them on the Internet, too? That way we'd always have the right lyrics and would actually be providing a much better service without misrepresenting anybody when we have to make lyrics up that we can't hear! (can get very tricky, particularly if you think you've heard a swear word, but can't be sure!)
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Posted 08 August 2006 - 01:19 AM (#4) User is offline   Daniel 

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moving to dvd-subtitling as will get better response there
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing - Socrates

A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished. - Zsa Zsa Gabor
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Posted 08 August 2006 - 05:38 AM (#5) Guest_ex-geordielad_*

I don't need subtitles to read the music lyrics because there are loads of visual elements. The colours and the dances make more attracting to my eyes. For example, Gorillaz...
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Posted 08 August 2006 - 08:23 AM (#6) User is offline   mat 

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I work as a subtitler in the UK and am getting really frustrated over how best to subtitle music. There's not really many guidelines and we basically just do what we think is best, but what do you think?

It is very simple. You subtitle the lyrics and dialogue, word for word. Don't change them, especially with lyrics as the precise wording is critical to the music and rhythm.

I've just spent hours subtitling pop videos and don't really feel they will do much to increase a hard-of-hearing person's viewing pleasure as the subtitles are so fast, I can't even read them myself!

Not surprising, as you're obviously not used to watching subtitles. People like us who depend on subtitles and who watch them day in, day out are capable of reading them much, much faster. Are the lyrics too fast for you hear? and even then, people who listen to the songs many times over will still know the lyrics. Same for us - lyrics may be fast and difficult to follow but after several viewings we learn the lyrics just like anybody else. No excuse for anything other than an exact literal reproduction of the lyrics in the subtitles please.

Plus, we often get the lyrics wrong because most of the time we don't get the official ones, but have to search the internet because record companies won't provide lyrics (copyright issues, apparently).

I can understand this. I have noticed myself that internet lyrics etc. can be unreliable, and also the lyrics can actually vary slightly from performance to performance. I suggest that you get second opinions on the lyrics if you find them difficult to make out accurately. Failing that, doing the best you can will have to suffice.

I always try to include descriptions of the intro music, or musical interludes. Is that a good thing or is it just annoying? What about programmes like Later with Jools Holland or the BBC proms? Is it best just to give the title of a piece of music, eg. Beethoven's 5th Symphony, or is it better to actually describe what is going on in the music, eg. GUITAR SOLO?

On TV, there is a good chance there may be people watching who cannot hear at all, so it would be a good idea to have some sort of explanation if there is music without lyrics (eg. classical).

However, for music DVDs I would suggest that descriptions of the music are not necessary. Deaf/HOH people who buy music DVDs will almost certainly be able to hear the music via hearing aids etc. and will only have trouble with lyrics. So subtitles only for the lyrics and dialogue would be a safe bet.[/quote]

I hope this helps!

Kind Regards,

Mat
Webmaster, dvd-subtitles.com
Webmaster, dvd-subtitles.com
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Posted 11 August 2006 - 05:23 PM (#7) User is offline   mafiti 

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That's very helpful indeed, thanks Mat.

Our company, at least, does have a policy not to edit lyrics, no matter how fast the subtitle ends up being. The only time that might change is if it's a children's show because children can't read as fast, but NEVER if it's a famous song. Whilst I was training, I had to do Old Macdonald Had A Farm and tried to edit it because it was so fast and got a severe rap on the knuckles for that one! :-) It's just that with people like Snoop Dogg or Eminem, you literally end up with subtitles that are on screen for less than half a second. But it seems that's not much of a problem to the viewers from the comments I've had so far.

The main reason I posted on here (and have posted before) is because we get very little feedback on our work from the Deaf community. Someone somewhere in the company will meet with Deaf Lobby groups and viewers groups, but we never get to hear about it. Most of the complaints we hear are about spelling mistakes or subtitles not being available and a large majority of those complaints are from people who aren't deaf or HOH, so I wonder whether THE WAY we subtitle things is just OK or whether people don't know how to get in touch.

Anyway, it's always nice to hear people's views because a lot of us subtitlers feel that what we do is dictated by money rather than what's best for deaf and HOH viewers of television. So keep 'em coming!
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Posted 11 November 2006 - 09:07 PM (#8) User is offline   Uncle Johnny 

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View Postciuk, on Aug 5 2006, 09:48 PM, said:

Why do TV companies, especially the music channels use copyright as an excuse not to subtitle music.


I find this rather daft.

Copyright infringement, my foot. They couldn't be bothered at all. They clearly haven't thought it through, commerical wise.

If you get any music video subtitled (TV or DVD), Deaf people would enjoy it more and perhaps buy the DVD or the MP3 song.
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Posted 27 July 2010 - 08:22 AM (#9) User is offline   tishcat 

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Subtitled lyrics are a God send to me. Before them i would hear a song and be bugged for days by the catchiness. And yet not know the words.
I only seriously got into The Doors when i bought a lyric book as they don't always include the lyrics with the album.
BTW have just bought the lady Gaga CD "The Fame Monster" and it has full lyrics inside.
There is a system where there is a warning on the cover of some CDs warning about explicit lyrics so why not one that just tells you there ARE lyrics included.
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Posted 27 July 2010 - 10:43 AM (#10) User is offline   Gary 

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I get the lyrics to ALL my songs and CD's. :D

I've installed a plug-in for my Windows Media Player so that when I play the CD or my MP3's on my PC using WMP, the lyrics automatically pop up. Not all songs appear with lyrics but most of them, especially the new stuff. If lyrics don't appear then I simply Google for them, they are all out there somewhere.

The Lyrics Plug-In I use allows me to add the lyrics myself (after finding them on Google) so that they do appear automatically in future whenever anyone plays that song. It adds the lyrics to a public database which benefits everyone. That's how the system works, rather like Open Source.
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Posted 03 October 2010 - 09:30 AM (#11) User is offline   tishcat 

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There is an amazing range of subtitles out there now, must be a lot of people working really hard at this. Thanks to them i have a much better appreciation of what's happening in the world and am enjoying my music a lot more with the lyrics.
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:54 AM (#12) User is offline   dj_intheuk 

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View Postmafiti, on Aug 5 2006, 12:44 PM, said:

Hi all,

I work as a subtitler in the UK and am getting really frustrated over how best to subtitle music. There's not really many guidelines and we basically just do what we think is best, but what do you think?


First of all, thank you for the work you do. If you think about subtitling music is a fantastic way to make it accessible. Radio cannot do what you do which is make music accessible to people with hearing loss. For that I am very grateful.

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I've just spent hours subtitling pop videos and don't really feel they will do much to increase a hard-of-hearing person's viewing pleasure as the subtitles are so fast, I can't even read them myself!


It might be difficult but if its accurate that's ok. If we really struggle with the lyrics and want to know we still have the option to record, play, rewind and watch it again.

Quote

Plus, we often get the lyrics wrong because most of the time we don't get the official ones, but have to search the internet because record companies won't provide lyrics (copyright issues, apparently).


This makes my blood boil. Would the record companies rather their artists be misrepresented because of an error in the subtitling of the lyrics that they could easily provide to you but won't for "copyright" That is absolutley bonkers. Not to mention narrow minded.
If I watch a music video that is subtitled I am more likely to enjoy it and guess what... then I might buy the song or album! Result for them!

It is not just hard of hearing and deaf people who use subtitles. In addition, what if someone mutes the telly in a hearing household - phone rings, conversations starts - if the video is subtitled they can get a much better idea of the song than they otherwise would.

Quote

I always try to include descriptions of the intro music, or musical interludes. Is that a good thing or is it just annoying?


Audio description should be included. The music was put there by the director for a reason and should be communicated so that profoundly deaf and deaf viewers can be made aware of it. If you are reffering to music video's specifically - I think a description is good but I don't know if you could include that for all songs without it getting in the way of the lyrics? The words are more important so I don't think it should be done at the expense of the lyrics (anyone else feel differently?)

Quote

What about programmes like Later with Jools Holland or the BBC proms? Is it best just to give the title of a piece of music, eg. Beethoven's 5th Symphony, or is it better to actually describe what is going on in the music, eg. GUITAR SOLO?


I don't think its either/or. How about both? I always like the information when it is provided (such as composer name, song title etc) Its educational :) Also, if you are not allowed to provide lyrics (still angry about that!) then the information of track name and artist is still better than nothing (We can always look the lyrics up that way, or is that breaking copyright too ) However of course the best scenario is that all audio including all lyrics are subtitled.

Since you've mentioned Jools Holland - this programme has been subtitled live and this worries me because it makes it very hard to maintain quality subtitling for music shows when the output is not reviewed for repeats. See the following blog posts for more opinions on this:

http://iheartsubtitles.wordpress.com/2010/...pete-tong-wrong (I will posting a follow up to this shortly)
http://thatdeafguy.blogspot.com/2010/09/ba...ells-going.html has great examples of good vs bad music subtitling.

Dawn
|| Love subtitles? Visit my blog - i heart subtitles || follow on twitter: @iheartsubtitles / @dj_intheuk ||
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Posted 15 October 2010 - 12:52 AM (#13) User is offline   tishcat 

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i am sure one of the best selling mags of the eighties was Smash Hits which included lyrics as a staple. Also Karaoke is very popular.
Lyrics are for everyones enjoyment, so thanks from me for the hard work.
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Posted 15 October 2010 - 11:12 AM (#14) Guest_Liz_*

I used to buy Smash Hits magazine :angry:
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Posted 15 October 2010 - 12:03 PM (#15) User is offline   Gary 

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View PostLiz, on Oct 15 2010, 12:17 PM, said:

I used to buy Smash Hits magazine :angry:


Ditto.


I use the Internet now.
Or the Windows Media Player Plug In which pulls up the lyrics automatically.
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Posted 15 October 2010 - 02:39 PM (#16) User is offline   Steve 

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View PostLiz, on Oct 15 2010, 12:17 PM, said:

I used to buy Smash Hits magazine :)


Awww yeah..The Smash Hits...marvelous reading that when I was a kid....checking the words to the songs, to save my mates Pishing themselves laughing..with my interpretations... :angry:
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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:48 PM (#17) User is offline   Lancashire Dave 

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Blimey Smash Hits , That takes me back .

Reading this thread reminded me of that old Maxell tv ad The Isrealites ( Me ears are alight )




My daughter , aged 10 now , her hearing is fine , but has grown up with subtitles on Tv , as I need them .
She asks for the subtitles to be put on when her music videos are on that she likes .
Grabs a hairbrush for a microphone and sings away , says its like having her own kareoke machine in the living room .


.
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