For the past two days I've been to the zoo, not literally but vicariously, through a DVD. The reason is that, at the end of the month, I'm going to be doing the English narration for the DVD, made by HBC (Hokkaido Broading Company). I've spent hours and hours going over both the narration and the subtitles, doing much more than proofreading them. The style used by the translator would have earned an "A" in my Academic Writing course. However, it was far too formal for the conversations in the video.
As I watched the DVD and edited the narration, I developed a tremendous respect for the Vice Zoo Director, Gen Bando, who had the vision for the development of the creative exhibits that have made the zoo #1 in Japan. What he wants most is that the animals be allowed to play freely in as natural an environment as possible, without cages or bars. Also, he has come up with some fascinating juxapositions of animals, such as spider monkeys and capybaras (the world's largest rodent, with webbed feet that allow them to swim).
Working on the translation of the narration and the subtitles presented a challenge. I ended up shortening many of the sentences, adding a lot of contractions and exclamations - the opposite of what I do with my writing students.
I also felt that the use of the historical present would be more vivid and fit the action occurring in the video. For example, "Asako, the elephant, plays with snowballs," is better than using "played," since the scene is of the elephant actually throwing the snowballs.
A greater challenge will come at the end of the month when I record the narration, particularly the sections where there is too much text to fit the visuals, no matter how quickly I speak.
The biggest result of doing this work is that now I simply have to visit Asahiyama Zoo. Wouldn't it be nice if, as extra compensation for all my effort, they gave me a season pass!
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