This is an article from the September-December 1998 issue: New Horizons in Mission

How the Film “JESUS” has become the Most Translated Film in History

How the Film “JESUS” has become the Most Translated Film in History

Five Steps in the Translation of "JESUS:" As soon as the language selection is made, the funds are raised, and the process begins.

STEP 1: WRITTEN TRANSLATION A native speaker of the language, also fluent in English, is recruited for the process. He or she must be able to express spiritual truth powerfully and from the heart. Working with exacting "log sheets," a careful, line-by-line translation is done, matching the new language as closely as possible to the exact syllable count of the original English version. This process often takes several months.

STEP 2: VIDEO-FIT A trained team from the JESUS Film Master Studio in Orlando, Florida travels to the country where the language is spoken. The lines of text are tested by first recording and carefully matching the timing and tone with the original. If the translated line is too long or too short for a perfect match, new lines are translated until the "fit" is correct. A committee of native speakers and language experts will then review the translation to ensure its accuracy and faithfulness in conveying the original meaning of the Scriptures.

STEP 3: RECORDING Once approved, the actual recording process then begins. About 20 different voice actors work over a two-week period, scene-by-scene. The voice actors watch the screen and listen to the English dialogue. Great attention is paid to matching the tone and inflection with the situation on the screen, even to the facial expressions of the characters. Often a number of "takes" are required as they carefully record each line in the new language. The final recording is then reviewed and stored on a computer in a digital format (using sophisticated equipment and software developed by the JESUS Film Master Studio).

STEP 4: MIXING AND EDITING Back in the Master Studio, and using state-of-the-art equipment, each phrase is carefully scrutinized, edited, and then methodically matched by shifting it either backwards or forward until it fits the original picture to give the appearance that each character is speaking the recorded language. The final edited dialogue is then mixed with the music and sound effects . A video tape is made and sent back to the in-country approval committee for their final review -- for accuracy, power and cultural suitability.

STEP 5: FILM PRODUCTION When the final soundtrack is approved by the committee, 16mm copies are made. The copies are then packaged with projectors, portable generators, screens and sound systems for distribution to waiting film teams throughout the world. A digital video master tape is also made for television broadcasts and VHS copy distribution.

Why is so much care given to the translation of a lm?

Carefully "lip-synched" translations are so exact that, as people watch, they are convinced that Jesus and others in the film speak their language. Nothing distracts the audience's attention or detracts from the powerful message. The translations are so precise and effective that some who watch even assume that Jesus and the disciples live in their area. They relate to the actors, understand their words, and the subtleties of the language. Many are deeply impressed that Jesus speaks their language. Most importantly, they hear the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit then uses to impress the truth upon their hearts.

You can learn more about the translations at:



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