Normandie. Ses traductions aident le cinéma à s’exporter

Sionann O’Neill avec Alain Guiraudie au festival de Cannes. Elle est interprète pour le réalisateur de « Rester vertical », en sélection officielle.Sionann O’Neill avec Alain Guiraudie au festival de Cannes. Elle est interprète pour le réalisateur de « Rester vertical », en sélection officielle. | Flo Alex

Par Ouest-France

Sionann O’Neill, Américaine installée en Normandie, est traductrice adaptatrice de sous-titres, du français vers l’anglais.


« Je vis en France depuis vingt-huit ans. J’étais venue me promener en Europe et je suis restée. » Elle s’installe à Paris et s’inscrit à la Sorbonne. « J’ai fait des études de cinéma. »

Elle obtient une maîtrise et s’oriente vers le sous-titrage : « J’aime la langue, j’aime écrire, j’aime le cinéma. » Sionann O’Neill commence par traduire le film d’un camarade de fac : Pascal-Alex Vincent. « Il m’a impliqué dans un court-métrage sélectionné dans un festival, à Mamers, dans la Sarthe. François Ozon était aussi là. Il sortait de la fameuse école de cinéma la Femis. On a fait la fête en semble. Ça crée des liens. »

C’est le début d’une belle collaboration avec le réalisateur de Huit Femmes« Il avait besoin de quelqu’un pour traduire ses films. J’ai commencé avec ses courts-métrages, puis tous ses long-métrages. »

L’intégralité de l’article dans l’édition Ouest-France du samedi 21 mai 2016, et en édition numérique.

Crédit photo : Flo Alex

ASIF at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival of Short Films

2048x1536-fit_illustrateur-strasbourgeois-blutch-signe-affiche-38e-festival-international-court-metrage-clermont-ferrand-5-13-fevrier-2016-1024x665ASIF at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

ASIF was represented at the Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand and at the SPI* lunch which brought together producers, broadcasters and Unifrance representatives. After this initial contact, ASIF – together with our umbrella organization ATAA (Association des Traducteurs et Adaptateurs de l’Audiovisuel) – intend to meet the heads of SPI and Unifrance in Paris to consider possible ways of collaborating and raising awareness on the importance of our profession and good practices which facilitate professional translations/adaptations.
ATAA worked with the company MEDIA SOLUTION to offer the winner of the ‘Grand Prix’ (“Les Amours Vertes” by Marine Atlan) professional subtitles in four European languages. The aim is to publicize the level of technical expertise and quality adaptations in France. Thanks to its international audience, Clermont-Ferrand Festival is the ideal place to raise directors’ and producers’ awareness in the long term about how crucial it is to have high-quality subtitles.

* Independent Producers Union (Syndicat des Producteurs Indépendants – video, TV, cinema

Open letter from UNTERTITELFORUM & ATVE to the European Commission

Open letter on the EU Commission’s “initiative to crowdsource subtitling to increase the circulation of European works”

As professional subtitlers, we would like to voice our concerns about this initiative. In your summary, you mention the high costs involved in subtitling of between 600 and 1,000 euros per film. This is a rough and fairly low estimate. Even with the kind of time-saving professional software most subtitlers use, subtitling a feature film can take anything from four to ten days, depending on the length of the film and the complexity of the dialogue. As it is, professional subtitlers often earn hourly rates that are below the minimum wage, even though most are university-educated, experienced language practitioners. Financial pressure has been mounting for years. As a result, the rates for subtitling have dropped to a level that has often become unsustainable, forcing many to leave the profession altogether. In view of this, you may imagine our consternation when reading about your well-meaning initiative. Your aim is to increase the supply and the visibility of European audiovisual works online and increase their proportion in catalogues of VOD services available in the EU”. To make this possible, you would like to find ways to subtitle the films completely free of charge. We would like you to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you really want to outsource the business of subtitling to amateurs or machines? Condensing the film dialogue to make it readable while retaining all of the essential information, the language register and allusions to previous dialogue or future sequences within the film is not an easy task. Subtitlers need to have a feeling for the audio-visual medium as well as for the languages involved. They must have training, experience, technical understanding and the will to rewrite a subtitle as often as is necessary to convey the message and ensure that it can be easily read in the time available. As far as machines are concerned, they are still barely able to translate standardised texts let alone spoken language, which lives from colloquialisms, word play and many other features that a machine cannot grasp.
  2. How do you plan to prevent copyright infringement if one or possibly even several amateur translators are subtitling a film?
  3. What kind of workflow do you envisage? Do you plan to contract expensive editors to revise translations that have been produced quickly and by amateurs? Any professional translator will tell you that it takes longer to correct a bad translation than to translate the text from scratch.
  4. Are you suggesting that professional filmmakers and screenwriters place the fruit of years of hard work into the hands of people who could, potentially, ruin the reputation of their film overnight for the sake of a few hundred euros? Contrary to general public perception, subtitling is NOT just a translation of the text. Bad subtitling can make a mockery of a film or even render it unintelligible if dialogue is poorly translated or the translations too long for the time available, meaning that the audience are not able to follow the plot. Subtitles created through crowdsourcing projects are teeming with these kinds of errors.

If the EU is serious about wanting to provide a larger range of smaller films to a wider audience, then trying to find ever-cheaper solutions for subtitling is not the solution. No filmmaker would dream of appointing their neighbour as DOP just because they had purchased a video camera. Instead, the EU commission should try and make subtitling a standard part of the post-production process and ensure that the professionals involved receive fair rates of pay. As long as the translation of film dialogue is perceived as an inconvenient afterthought that is not accounted for in the film’s budget, subtitling will never receive the recognition it deserves. Crowdsourcing subtitling can only damage a film’s international reputation. Everyone is a loser in this scenario: decent subtitles do not come for free!

The members of Untertitelforum
The members of AVTE, AudioVisual Translators Europe
Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel, President of VdÜ (German Association of Literary Translators)
Eva Leipprand, President of VS (German Writers Association)

Berlin, September 2015

Translators targeted by scammers?

Several asif! members have recently received emails like this one:


Je suis  Mme  ***** ***** ****   . Je réside actuellement  au  Sénégal.  Je suis  à la recherche d’un traducteur, pour la traduction du Français vers l’anglais,  d’un  document  de 105 pages qui servira de support de programme scolaire ou universitaire.

Je m’adresse à vous pour vous proposer le projet de traduction du document  .Je suis désormais à votre disposition pour de future conversation et pour vous faire parvenir une copie. Afin que vous puissiez voir la cible, les objectifs. Ensuite me dire en combien de temps vous pouvez finir et me faire un devis.

NB : je dispose d’un budget de 12000 € pour la traduction, (révision et  correction).   La traduction sera destinée  à des fins pédagogiques dans les universités d’Afrique de l’ouest.

Délais  de livraison  la traduction : 4 mois.

Some of our German colleagues were contacted similarly last month, and we believe this to be a scam aiming to harvest bank account details.

We advise translators to treat this with extreme caution, to not enter into negotiations, and to not supply any personal/bank details to the sender.

If a job sounds like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is!

Audiovisual translators and translation agencies reach a collective agreement in Finland – an agreement left unsigned by one company

Click here to read the story on


After a negotiating process that was drawn out for more than five years, the Finnish audiovisual translation field now has a collective agreement. The agreement meets the most important goals of the translators. One translation agency, SDI Media, did not sign the agreement.

The collective agreement for the audiovisual translation field was signed by the trade unions representing translators, the Union of Journalists in Finland and Akava Special Branches, as well as by the following translation agencies: BTI Studios, Pre-Text, Rosmer International and Stellar Text. In addition, Saga Vera is currently in negotiations to join the agreement. One agency, SDI Media, did not sign the agreement and, therefore, its employees are not under an obligation to maintain industrial peace.

– “We made the impossible possible. This collective agreement is a fine achievement after negotiations that ran for over five years during which the composition of participants at the table changed over time”, comments Petri Savolainen, Director at the Union of Journalists in Finland.

– “The collective agreement cuts short the tailspin that the industry has been in and launches its revival. This achievement demonstrates how employees and employers that respect the quality of work can together develop their field in a way beneficial to all parties”, says Helena Lamponen, Lobbying Manager at Akava Special Branches.

– “This agreement meets the most important goals of the translators”, Helena Lamponen and Petri Savolainen comment further on the content of the agreement.

The agreement contains a scheduled programme to raise salaries and fees in increments during the contract period. Agreeing on using subtitle count as fee criterion is an important stipulation for the translators. Previously, fees were often based on programme running time, which did not take the translators’ workload into account. Another important condition included in the new agreement concerns the copyright compensations for employed freelancers.

– It is the shared objective of all parties to reach a uniform level for all translation fees during the next round of negotiations, says Petri Savolainen.

–  Additionally, it is extremely important for the Union of Journalists that when providing translations for the  Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, the Yhtyneet collective agreement is adhered to in all cases regardless of whether the work is done by permanent employees, employed freelancers or subcontractors.

The collective agreement entered into force on May Day, May 1 2015 and will be in force until the end of year 2017. On June 12, 2015, Saga Vera, a translation agency based in Oulu, Finland, joined the agreement.

An open letter to SDI Media from Finnish audiovisual translators

In a surprising turn, SDI Media, who participated in the collective agreement negotiations for the audiovisual translation field from the beginning, did not sign the agreement. Therefore, translators employed by SDI are not bound by the terms and conditions of the agreement. The same applies to the industrial peace that the new agreement brings to the field. As long as the obligation to maintain industrial peace does not apply to SDI’s translators, they have the right to take industrial action. Finnish audiovisual translators have sent an appeal to the SDI management to encourage the company to sign the new agreement without delay. In two days, the open letter was signed by 235 audiovisual translators.

On May 25, the trade unions issued application boycott on SDI Media after the agency did not sign the collective agreement by May 1. The boycott, being a legal industrial action, is in force until further notice, and means, in practice, that the unions advise their members to refrain from applying for positions within SDI Media.

An open letter to translation customers from Finnish audiovisual translators

On June 15, Finnish audiovisual translators sent an open letter signed by 292 individuals to the customers of the translation agencies urging them to encourage their translation providers to adhere to the terms and conditions, as well as the spirit, of the new collective agreement and to sign it as soon as possible, if they have not yet done so. This appeal emphasizes the need to restore the whole audiovisual translation field back to being an industry of skilled professionals providing high-quality subtitles, which Finnish audiences have been used to for several decades. In order to do this, salaries, fees and other labour terms need to be reasonable and the same to all.

Alarmingly, BTI Studios, the one large multinational translation agency that did sign the agreement, commenced co-operation negotiations with its employees with the aim of reducing a sizeable portion of its permanent workforce. The recent result of these negotiations is the laying off of 4 translators from the parent company and 9 translators from its Finnish subsidiary. In addition to this, the agency is known for widely using subcontractor translators, whose terms are a far cry from the terms and conditions of the new collective agreement.

The open letter sent to translation agency customers is available in English here.

The appeal sent to SDI management is available in Finnish here.
For further information, please contact:
Helena Lamponen, Lobbying Manager at Akava Special Branches, tel. +358 40 631 7660
Petri Savolainen, Director at Union of Journalists in Finland, tel. +358 50 534 24 85