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Help! Should I confirm this offer?
Thread poster: fionainrome
fionainrome
Local time: 01:37
English to Italian
+ ...
Apr 28, 2008

Hello there, me again!
I have been offered a subtitling job and done the test which I passed with “great remarks”! The pay is not excellent but I need the work. They have now contacted me to do some work which has a ten day deadline, they are talking about 150 minutes and I think they only mean translating of subtitling as I specified several times in my previous emails to them that that’s what I do. Still, I do not want to accept until I’m sure what I’m getting (It’s a little kids’ show). They say I can work on Word DOC (does this mean there is no program involved?) and download the film from the net and that I will get a PO and info via FTP once I’ve agreed .
Sorry if this sounds confusing, but it’s the first time I work with a foreign company. I specified I do not do time-coding , only translation of text, but I’ve got stuck in ugly situations before and wouldn’t like this to be one of them. Should I ask them for confirmation of rates (though they were previously specified via email?). They have not yet sent me guidelines (which they said I will receive from the coordinator as soon as I have confirmed) and I really only want to take on translation for subtitling for now as I have a huge workload. I absolutely do not want to get stuck in doing what Italians call “rilevamento” (translating from scratch with no text as I think I could not meet that deadline right now).
What should I do?
Thanks so much.


[Edited at 2008-04-28 23:13]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:37
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Seems only translation involved Apr 29, 2008

The time-coding will be done automatically. At least my subtitling jobs were done completely in Word.
Regards
Heinrich


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Jing Nie
China
Local time: 07:37
Member (2011)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Ask the Client before accept it Apr 29, 2008

You should write to the client and ask if they have prepared the time-coded subtitle scripts for you.

If the answer is NO, do not accept the job since the transcription and timecueing will take at least 6-8 times of actual time of the video, especially when you are not a native speaker of the source language.

Sometimes my clients ask me to subtitling a DVD from scratch. The DVD are in English. I always ask a fellow translator in UK or US to transcribe it. I do the time-codeing and translation part.








fionainrome wrote:

I absolutely do not want to get stuck in doing what Italians call “rilevamento” (translating from scratch with no text as I think I could not meet that deadline right now).
What should I do?
Thanks so much.


[Edited at 2008-04-28 23:13]


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:37
English to French
+ ...
Ask the client Apr 29, 2008

Hi,
I agree with Jing Nie, you should ask the client for every detail that is not clear before you commit yourself to do the work - timecoding, rates, etc.

And if it's the first time you work with that company, don't forget to check their Blue Board!


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:37
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
Think Apr 29, 2008

You should ask the client whether this show has a script (text) you can work with or you have to work with the video only and then you have to decide whether you can really do this text. 10 days for a 150 minute show is more than very reasonable, so maybe it worth giving up some other job and accept this one since you say you really need this job even if the pay is not great. In bocca al lupo!:)

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fionainrome
Local time: 01:37
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What is a blueboard? Apr 29, 2008

How do I check them on the blueboard? I know nothing about this.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Looks fishy to me on both sides Apr 29, 2008

Ciao, Fiona,

I'll take the devil's advocate role. Please forgive my unpleasantness - I'm not like that - but I'm trying to shed some light on the whole affair.

First, you passed their test with "great remarks", however you feel unsure if you can do a 150 min job in 10 days. I'm not bragging about it, just giving my benchmark. After 20 years I've been doing it - rilevamento included, no script - I'd do it in 2-3 days at most. So I get the impression the great remarks might have been on your low rates.

Then you say you need the work, but you already have a huge workload. One human being can only do so much, even if you cut down some sleep hours.

Finally, you say it's a little kid's show. If it's intended for piccoli bambini, subtitling is unlikely. Reading speed for kids in the 4-8 years' age bracket varies so much that you can't rely on it.

If they have the subtitles ready in one language, and want you to translate them into another, it's text translation, counted in words/chars, not minutes of playing time. Someone will have to go through your output later to check if e.g. Right! means Certo!, or Destro!, or Destra!. Even worse - and this has happened to me more often than you'd believe - it may mean Scrivi! (= Write!) because someone else goofed.

DOC files are okay, if they don't care about you getting so close to the final job. I often work for two local video producers that also do subtitling. One does subs into the local language, to use some idle resources they have. All they want is the translated subs done from the video itself in a DOC or TXT file, their staff will time-code and do the rest. The other firm subs their own productions for the English-speaking market, so they want a finished, time-coded subtitles file they can implement unchanged to their video files.

So, as I see it, this case doesn't hold water. Maybe I got it wrong, as I don't know the whole story.

Back to your original question, whether you should confirm this offer or not: First check if you can do it, and if it's worth the effort. Qualitywise, they shouldn't be shy to let you try the first 5-10 minutes of it, after such raving comments. Timewise, check your workload again. And moneywise, check if what they'll pay you will compensate you properly.

Good luck!


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fionainrome
Local time: 01:37
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still confused Apr 29, 2008

I just don't want to end up with transcription (translating from scratch) because I find it someotimes hard (thick accents, bad audio etc) and I'm not going to do it unless it's really well paid. This job isn't.
Also I work for Tv and I always get called up at the last minute to work on programs, so it makes it a little tricky to plan things ahead and know how much time I will have to work on a project.
I'm really beginning to hate this. I know I do a great job, but I'm constantly being told my rates are ridiculous (not by the companies obviously, I had to fight with one of them to get them to raise my rates!). Where are all these companies that really pay 5-6 euros per minute of translation for subtitling? This company pays 2.80 per minute and I swear that's the highest I've heard.
I really don't know what to do anymore.
By the way, they didn't specify whether it was net or lord...


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:37
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Check the Blue Board Apr 29, 2008

fionainrome wrote:
How do I check them on the blueboard? I know nothing about this.


The Blue Board is a section in ProZ.com to exchange feedback about outsourcers.
See http://www.proz.com/faq/blue_board_agency for more information.

It may not take out all possibility of non payment, but surely it helps to avoid some bad apples.
Most of the companies operating in this business and hiring freelance translators are listed and most of those listed have received some feedback.


bye
Gianfranco


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
That's where the big bucks are Apr 29, 2008

fionainrome wrote:
I just don't want to end up with transcription (translating from scratch) because I find it someotimes hard (thick accents, bad audio etc) and I'm not going to do it unless it's really well paid. This job isn't.


The low-paying market, that seems to be the one you are catering to, just wants it done. They give you little material to work with, sometimes the script was transcribed by someone who understands (and cares) less of what is said then you do.

The high-paying market wants a hands-off (their hands) superb job. It's often an industrial company that knows nothing about video, they just want to show their subtitled or dubbed institutional or product launch video shown without criticism on the translation, which detracts the spectators' attention from their message.

Some people offer high production volume at low rates, there is a large market for that. Others offer video translsation as a fine art for premium rates. The market is much smaller. But it's an option one has to make.

Also I work for Tv and I always get called up at the last minute to work on programs, so it makes it a little tricky to plan things ahead and know how much time I will have to work on a project.


This is overly general as a statement, "to work for TV". You may be a cable-gal now and then, or a surrogate bilingual anchorwoman to interview foreign big shots. Both are 'work' like any other.

I'm really beginning to hate this. I know I do a great job, but I'm constantly being told my rates are ridiculous (not by the companies obviously, I had to fight with one of them to get them to raise my rates!). Where are all these companies that really pay 5-6 euros per minute of translation for subtitling? This company pays 2.80 per minute and I swear that's the highest I've heard.


On the streets, you'll see people driving both Fiat Unos and Mercedes 600s. Both have 4 wheels and take 5 people. You'll have to pinpoint where your product is located.

Then you'll have to check what services you can offer, and who wants them. To give you an idea, I charge a bit higher than the "high" rates you mentioned above. Never learned to work faster and deliver a somewhat sloppier job. Nevertheless, some local outsourcers hire me to burn the subtitles translated by cheaper colleagues (they even tell me their rates) and author DVDs for them. Sometimes I warn them that the translation is acceptable, but the subtitle breaks and time-codes are really bad, so they usually agree to pay me extra to fix them to the extent possible. A non-translator wouldn't be able to do it.

I really don't know what to do anymore.
By the way, they didn't specify whether it was net or lord...


You have to define your mission/vision, i.e. what you intend to offer, and get prepared to do it at a quality level compatible with your rates. In the meantime, check if this will allow you to pay your bills, otherwise redefine your career, or acquire new skills.

Regarding taxes, there's some kind of universal default agreement that each party pays all taxes in their respective countries. If you and your client are in the same country, it's easy: there should be (plenty of) laws about it. In this case, negotiated fees are gross. If each one is in a different country, each one pays the taxes owed to their own country, as neither will benefit from anything the other country's government should offer within its borders.

Taking the chance: The BlueBoard is restricted to Proz paying members.


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Paula James  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:37
French to English
+ ...
ask them! Apr 29, 2008

I don't know anything about subtitling, but I really don't understand why you can't just ask the client exactly what the job is. Surely they would expect that?
It's perfectly normal professional practice to check exactly what a job involves before taking it on. I always check what my clients expect from me if it's anything other than a straightforward word file and it's not clear, and I don't accept a job and wait for instructions afterwards (possibly if it's a very good client I know well, and I know they won't spring unexpected surprises on me).


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Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 09:07
English to German
+ ...
rates Apr 29, 2008

When I started out I was in a similar situation, where I was accepting just about any old rate that came my way, with the aim of building up experience and a track record. The strategy was to get a decent workload happening and then only accept new clients at higher rates, eventually leaving the low payers behind. Fighting for higher rates works a lot better when dumping the agency you are negotiating with is a real option.

This has worked out for me (although progress has not been linear, more meandering), a "new business incentive scheme" that is available in my country (Australia) having been a great help. I regarded the first two years just as my "apprenticeship" where I learned the ropes and didn't expect to make big bucks.

José has put it very well, the only thing I might add is that life actually does get a lot better and easier when you leave the bottom end. Low paying clients often don't understand and appreciate your work, you get more misunderstandings, unclear instructions, attempted rip-offs and unreasonable expectations down there.
Perseverance is the key and also taking care to avoid the poverty trap, where you clutter your time up with too many low paid jobs so you don't have time to improve your skills and chase the worthwhile ones.

Another thing, if you do accept a job based on a misunderstanding - no matter on whose part - there is absolutely nothing wrong with pulling out of it as soon as you realise that there has been a mistake.

[Edited at 2008-04-29 12:51]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:37
Dutch to English
+ ...
Precisely Apr 29, 2008

Paula James wrote:

I don't know anything about subtitling, but I really don't understand why you can't just ask the client exactly what the job is. Surely they would expect that?
It's perfectly normal professional practice to check exactly what a job involves before taking it on. I always check what my clients expect from me if it's anything other than a straightforward word file and it's not clear, and I don't accept a job and wait for instructions afterwards (possibly if it's a very good client I know well, and I know they won't spring unexpected surprises on me).


Regardless of the job, if you're unsure ... ask the client!

Nobody here is going to be able to give you a definitive answer, that's for sure.


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Sylvano
Local time: 01:37
English to French
No way, José Apr 29, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
a 150 min job
d do it in 2-3 days at most. [/quote]

Well, you and me are definitely not doing the same job... Good for you, though.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Translation only Apr 29, 2008

Sylvano wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
a 150 min job
d do it in 2-3 days at most.


Well, you and me are definitely not doing the same job... Good for you, though. [/quote]


I'm talking about translation only, either for dubbing or subtitling. No spotting, checking, etc. My ratio is 1:6, i.e. it takes me 6 minutes to translate 1. So it's 15 hours' work.

Or course, I have my own technique. I first prep the files, i.e. extract the audio track into a WAV file, clean the noise if any (e.g. tape hiss), and normalize the volume. Then I work with Express Scribe on the audio file only.

But I'm considered a slow and expensive guy here. Some colleagues brag about doing that in less than half the time, and they charge between 1/3 and half of what I do. But I never had the nerve (nor the ability) to step down to their quality level.


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