So you’ve always wanted to watch those old Superman cartoons of the 1940s, but you’ve just been waiting for the Serbian translation? Always complained about how not enough American documentaries can be seen in your native Dutch or Tibetan? Crossed your fingers hoping that your music video could be understood in Japanese, Portuguese and Romanian?

There may finally be a solution.

dotSUB is a new online web browser-based tool that renders text in real time onto moving images as subtitles in, conceivably, any language on Earth (even including Esperanto). Anyone who is bi-lingual can register and voluntarily begin translating available films using time captured transcriptions. dotSUB is currently in its second beta version and will officially launch this fall, when the software will be available to embed as an API on any site free of charge, so people all over the world can begin translating any available online video libraries.

At this stage, which clips are subtitled into which languages is up to the translators, not the filmmakers or dotSUB itself. Any film in any language can be hosted on the site free of charge and translated into multiple languages by obtaining permission from the film’s rights holders to create a derivative work.

“We’re focused on the 99.5 percent of filmmakers who don’t have the multi-million dollar budget to translate and subtitle their films,” says dotSUB founder and CEO Michael Smolens. “We want to allow people from any culture to watch the films of any other culture.”

The next goal for dotSUB is to facilitate distribution of the final subtitled films – which can be delivered in web-based streaming video, DVD, or VHS formats – in theaters, on public TV or cable TV channels in all countries, to cell phone carriers interested in local language content, and directly to end users, in the end hopefully reaching a much broader audience than was ever possible before.

Visit http://www.dotsub.com for more information and to watch subtitled films.

This article was published in the Summer 2006 issue of Filmmaker Magazine.

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