Translating the "JESUS" film

Everyone, everywhere meeting Jesus in their own language


Language groups reached
of viewers make decisions for Christ
DVDs shipped

How the "JESUS" film is translated

Translation is at the heart of Jesus Film Project. Every new culture that experiences the film does so in their native language. To date, it has been made available in more 1,600 languages—a massive undertaking!


Step 1

Translating the script

It begins with a painstaking line-by-line translation that must match as closely as possible to the timing and syllable count of the original English version. This process can take months, and is done by a trained Bible translator who is already working with the language, or is training a primary-language speaker in the translation process.


Step 2

Testing the translation

Next, the translation is tested against the film’s dialogue. Each new line is recorded with attention to matching with the original’s timing and tone. If a translated line doesn’t quite fit, new lines are translated until it does. Then a committee of native speakers and experts in the language review the translation for its accuracy and faithfulness to the scriptures.


Step 3

Recording the voices

Once the translation’s approved, an ensemble of about 20 voice actors re-record the film’s dialogue over a two-week period. During the recording process, multiple takes are required to match the delivery of each line with the characters’ expression and the tone of every scene.

Step 4

Editing the audio

At the Master Studio in Orlando, Florida, every individual phrase in the recording is edited to match the delivery of each character in the film. This requires methodical adjustments of each line for an exact fit. (The media challenges in some remote areas require this step to be done by a team in the field.) A final edit with music and sound effects is sent back to the committee for final approval on accuracy and cultural appropriateness. If you’re ever in Orlando, we’d love to give you a tour of the studio.


Step 5

Producing and distributing the master

After the final soundtrack is approved, a video master is produced—and if it’s needed, a 16mm film master is created. Copies are packaged as DVDs or film prints along with projectors, portable generators, screens, and speakers for film teams and partners around the world. A digital video master may also be made for use on television, the Internet, and the Jesus Film Project App.

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What if there is no written language?

When you’re involved in the work of translating, a people group without a written language provides a unique challenge. How do you translate film dialogue without an alphabet for a written script?

Overcoming this obstacle

In the past, translating to a culture with no written language would require the development of a one. This process alone could take years.

That’s why we use an approach that allows us to greatly condense the process. With V.A.S.T. (Video Audio Strategy for Translation), the translator records the translation instead of writing it, and can go from script translation to master DVD in as little as five weeks.

V.A.S.T. is a critical element of our Mission 865 strategy to reach the last 865 language groups by the year 2025.  With this translation method, we will be able to get the film produced in the tongue of the remaining unreached language groups of 50,000 or more speakers.


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