Quality of Interlingual Subtitling in the Streaming Era: Social, Process and Product Quality in Netflix
University of Roehampton, London
Year of enrolment: 2019
This research projects aims to increase our understanding of how subtitles are made, of their quality, and how they are perceived by the audience. To achieve these objectives, I will investigate quality of subtitling in production networks with Netflix as an end client, looking at three dimensions: the working conditions of the subtitlers, the workflows, and the final product. I will then explore the viewing experience of the audience when mediated by subtitles.
The research will have two main outputs: the first is a model of subtitling quality assessment that can be applied in professional contexts, which today still lack a unified approach. The second is an updated and more inclusive set of recommendations aimed at trainee subtitlers, practitioners, and subtitling companies, twenty years after the publication of The Code of Good Subtitling Practice (Ivarsson and Carroll 1998).
Subtitling allows global audiences to have an immersive and exciting viewing experience. They are under the spotlight in the age of on-demand global content, as they are the key to international distribution. Yet the industry has not adopted a widely accepted code of practice, and neither academia nor practitioners have found an agreement on exactly what good subtitles should be like.
Therefore, to achieve standardisation, we first need to take stock of current norms and guidelines, to assess whether they actually compile best practices considering the perspectives of all stakeholders. We also need to determine if such norms and guidelines are actually implemented by subtitlers, and if the end-users are happy with the subtitled content they are consuming.
This project will help harmonise interlingual subtitling standards and promote a more holistic concept of quality, that includes the people beyond the text: the practitioners who participate in the various levels of production of the subtitles and the audience.