Open Video Workbook

Case Study - Into the Fire

Into the Fire: The Hidden Victims of Austerity in Greece 1 is a film about the situation of refugees and migrants in one of the European border countries at a time of severe austerity and rising, at times murderous, racism. The documentary is based on interviews with people from all over the world, including Somalia, Nigeria, Kenia, Egypt, Pakistan, Greece, Britain, Guinea, Iran, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Morocco. Spoken languages include Arabic, English, French and Greek.

Many are speaking in a language other than their native language, or are speaking in a specific accent, or background noise means their words are hard to make out without subtitles. While the film's main language is English, we didn't want to decide whose English was understandable or 'acceptable' and whose wasn't. So we decided to subtitle the whole film.

To do this, we uploaded the film to Vimeo, set to private and password protected, and then dropped the link onto Amara. Amara is award winning web-based software for collaberative subtitle creation. It is published under the AGPL licence.The transcription interface was very intuitive. Remembering only a couple of keystrokes helped to move swiftly through the whole film and transcribe interviews and narration. In all, the Into the Fire subtitles consist of 577 lines for a 38 minute film.

We wanted to offer the film in different languages so it would be accessible to audiences that don't speak English. Already while filming, there was a lot of interest in Greece, so it was clear we would need Greek subtitles. Making the film on a shoestring meant we didn't have any funding to pay for translations. So we asked online: On our website, facebook and twitter we put out a call for volunteers to help us translating.

Everyone who got in touch with us received short instructions by email and the relevant links and passwords. And then we watched how translations grew and more languages were added.

Into the Fire was released on 21st April with subtitles in Albanian, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish. On the release date, the Czech translation was almost finished and Polish, Serbian and Swahili translations had been started.

Most translations had more than one person working on them. The advantage of Amara is that people can contribute to a translation, then save it and someone else can pick up where they left off. Working with other people, and working with people who aren't physically near you is very simple.

For the most part, our translators, many of whom we've never met and don't know, have been able to work independently, with very basic instructions:

We've put the video and transcript up on Amara, an online subtitling tool. You can either download the full English version there, or start translating right on the web interface.

If you aren't sure how much time you will have, working on the web interface is great, as you can save it at any time and someone else can pick up where you left off and vice versa.

There's an "Edit Subtitles" button at the top right, which takes you to the translation interface. You can start translating immediately, when you're done just hit "save and exit" at the bottom left.

If you have any questions on how to use it, please get in touch.

This seemed to be suffient information for people to just get on with it. Once translations were done, we were able to download the different languages. Amara offers downloads of the subtitles in different formats, including SubRip Files (.srt). YouTube also supports this format for subtitles, so we were able to save the .srt files and upload them to YouTube. (YouTube use the term Closed Captions for subtitles, and shorten it to CC - not to be confused with Creative Commons).

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