Videos, Subtitles and Transcripts - a personal reflection

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When a friend suggested that working on editing the transcripts for the Word Online project was just the thing for me, I agreed to have a look – not realising that it would become a major lifeline for me...

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Although I have been a Christian for over 50 years, I found working on the materials of Word Online helped my understanding of the Gospels enormously.  I have been challenged by God, as I listened to the videos, wrestled with subtitles and worked on the transcripts.

When a friend suggested that working on editing the transcripts for the Word Online project was just the thing for me, I agreed to have a look – not realising that it would become a major lifeline for me when Covid 19 struck here in the UK and we all had to go into Lockdown.  Previously, I had been a teacher in primary schools, and then an English teacher in a men’s prison. It was there I discovered my love of taking the words of others and making them tighter and more effective.

As I begun work, most of the videos had been recorded – at least for the first time - and several subtitles had already been completed. Subtitles were created by a computer programme, but careful work was needed to develop them.  The programme had its limitations - it did not recognise many of the Bible place names – and some of the attempts gave those working on the subtitles some amusement!  Punctuation was completely missing. Generally, spoken language does not recognise sentence structure, and it was necessary to listen carefully to breaks in the spoken word and to punctuate accordingly. This was time-consuming and difficult work so we’re grateful to those who worked at this stage of the process. 

My main task was to take those subtitles, what Martin Charlesworth had actually said in the videos, and put them into a written document format that could be read and translated into other languages easily which would then facilitate access to the material right across the world! That is part of the vision. I was asked to add headings, take out the ‘extra’ words that we naturally use in our spoken language but not in written, and make the necessary grammatical changes – but always keeping to what Martin had originally said. 

In discussion with others working on the subtitles and transcripts, we agreed it was the first time we had considered the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as an integral whole. Often people study specific events of the story in isolation, rarely considering the general flow of the narrative which builds to the crescendo of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  In Word Online, the Gospels are knitted together to form a composite whole and Martin draws our attention to the context of each event and teaching, which further deepens the significance of the storyline.

Martin’s reflections, at the end of each episode, apply Jesus’ teaching to our 21st Century lives. I have been challenged to read the Gospels again, to really get to know this Jesus who gave his life for me, and to live my life according to his teaching, found in the Gospels.

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