This weekend we watched the Germany v England game, but no, we’re not about to lament another poor performance at a World Cup, another defeat to the Germans or even the blind referee who failed to notice the ball was two foot over the line (Tottenham fans know all about that one already).
No, we’d like to talk about the awful subtitles we had to endure before the football began, on ITV’s F1 coverage. Subtitles require that content is written very quickly; transcribing what has just been said. This is a difficult skill, but when transcribing commentary on a sporting event, it’s a thankless one too. No matter how fast the person writing the subtitles can be, they’ll always be behind the action – so will end up writing about something that has happened maybe 30 seconds ago, when the action has moved on since.
This is also done during the Tennis, which is currently being played now, so imagine the subtitles of ‘a backhand volley, a forehand smash, another backhand, forehand, backhand winner…’ which describes the action from two rallies ago! Utterly pointless. In addition to being way behind the action, it also covers vital parts of the screen. Subtitles during Wimbledon cover the score, and the subtitles during the F1 covered the lap counter at the top, so you had no idea which lap you were on – only what the commentator had said a few minutes ago.
Then of course there are the errors with the content. When writing at speed, and we all do it, mistakes and typos are easy to make. However, when you’re transcribing the commentary for a Formula 1 Grand Prix, you would assume that it’s obvious the commentator is mentioning cars. Not so to the person writing the subtitles for ITV’s F1 coverage. No, the following two gems appeared on the screen during the race:
“the safety calf has been deployed” and “safety cure”
How can they get it so wrong? Luckily, the subtitles were switched off before the football began – but the fact that the leisure centre had actually paid to have them was worrying. You would think when you pay for content that you’ll be getting accurate, well written content that doesn’t damage your brand. That’s not always the case however, even with content for websites. You could pay money for content only to receive poorly written content that reflects badly on your company image.