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Information about subtitling
Thread poster: Silvia Ferrero

Silvia Ferrero  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 19, 2007

Hello everyone,

I would like to explore the area of subtitling and maybe offer it as a service in the future. I am thinking both of translating out of subtitles already existing in English and creating subtitles in my language, Spanish, out of English audio.
Since I have got no experience in this field, I would appreciate if you could let me know what type of software is needed to carry out this work. As a translator, I am not sure if we are expected to use a video software and insert the subtitles ourselves or simply translate the subtitles as you would any normal text, in programs such as Word or Excel.
Also, I would appreciate if you could give me an indication of rates that can be charged in the UK for this type of work.

Many thanks in advance.

Silvia


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L3r0y
Taiwan
Local time: 02:31
Italian to French
+ ...
Subtitling Apr 20, 2007

There is free software on Internet called subtitle workshop.
It is up to you to organize the subtitles. You must know how fast people read. In French, I know it is 74 signs per subtitle.
But I never charged subtitling yet.


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Silvia Ferrero  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Subtitling Apr 20, 2007

Thank you very much for your reply. I'll download the software and see how it works. I am also thinking about doing a course, as I want to be sure I am able to carry out the work before I even attempt to get into the industry.

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Sylvano
Local time: 20:31
English to French
74 signs, even to translate 'yes' ? Apr 20, 2007

L3r0y wrote:
You must know how fast people read. In French, I know it is 74 signs per subtitle.


Not really. It depends on the duration of a given subtitle (usually from 1 to 5 seconds).
The basic rule is 2 images = 1 character (with 25 images in each second).


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morella ferrero sdl  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Help me get further information with a subtitling job Jun 20, 2007

I SPEAK AND READ VERY WELL FRENCH & ENGLISH SINCE MY CHILDHOOD. MY NATIVE LANGUAGE BEING SPANISH, I FEEL DESPERATE WATCHING A MOVIE EITHER IN ENGLISH OR FRENCH WHILE HEARING ONE THING AND -INEVITABLY-READING THE SUBTITLES WHICH MUCH TOO OFTEN HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT IS BEING SAID. I WOULD LOVE TO CONTRIBUTE, FOR THE SAKE OF CULTURE OR SIMPLE CORRECT UNDERSTANDING, TO SUBTITLING MOVIES. I DON'T CARE IF THE PRICE PAID FOR THIS IS NOT GREAT. THANKS
MORELLA

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-06-21 06:52]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-06-21 06:54]


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Sylvano
Local time: 20:31
English to French
The usual mistakes... Jun 21, 2007

morella ferrero sdl wrote:

I SPEAK AND READ VERY WELL FRENCH & ENGLISH SINCE MY CHILDHOOD. MY NATIVE LANGUAGE BEING SPANISH, I FEEL DESPERATE WATCHING A MOVIE EITHER IN ENGLISH OR FRENCH WHILE HEARING ONE THING AND -INEVITABLY-READING THE SUBTITLES WHICH MUCH TOO OFTEN HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT IS BEING SAID. I WOULD LOVE TO CONTRIBUTE, FOR THE SAKE OF CULTURE OR SIMPLE CORRECT UNDERSTANDING, TO SUBTITLING MOVIES. I DON'T CARE IF THE PRICE PAID FOR THIS IS NOT GREAT. THANKS
MORELLA


Hi, Morella.

Two mistakes in what you write...

1) Being bi- or trilingual doesn't make you a good translator (for subtitles or in other fields). Easier to criticize subtitles than writing them, believe me.

2) Working for the only sake of 'culture' or 'correct understanding' and stating you don't care how much you're paid sounds shocking for the professional I am. Either you stay an amateur (and do fansub) or you act and try to get paid (decently) as a professional.


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morella ferrero sdl  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
I am terribly sorry for what I feel has been a misinterpretation of my words Jun 22, 2007

[quote]Sylvano wrote:

morella ferrero sdl wrote:
Sorry for writing in capital letters, I honestly did not know the rules about this.
On the other hand, I agree with what you say, being multilingual does not make you a good translator. In all the years I lived in Switzerland as a student and then as a diplomat, I found many taxi drivers who spoke, to say the least, three languages.
So, to sum it up: I am really interested in the subtitle-translation field, and my -I insist- misinterpreted mentioning of not caring what the fee would be for this type of job is just because I really would like to offer my contribution to improve the quality of subtitling within, of course, my limitations and possibilities.
I did not want to "sound" pretentious or conceited. Once more, I apologize.
Morella

Hi, Morella.

Two mistakes in what you write...

1) Being bi- or trilingual doesn't make you a good translator (for subtitles or in other fields). Easier to criticize subtitles than writing them, believe me.

2) Working for the only sake of 'culture' or 'correct understanding' and stating you don't care how much you're paid sounds shocking for the professional I am. Either you stay an amateur (and do fansub) or you act and try to get paid (decently) as a professional.


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Maya Gorgoshidze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 22:31
Member (2004)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Some considerations Jun 26, 2007

Sylvano wrote:

1) Being bi- or trilingual doesn't make you a good translator (for subtitles or in other fields). Easier to criticize subtitles than writing them, believe me.


Yes, that's right, but please agree that this is a very good start, namely in subtitling job…

Sylvano wrote:

2) Working for the only sake of 'culture' or 'correct understanding' and stating you don't care how much you're paid sounds shocking for the professional I am. Either you stay an amateur (and do fansub) or you act and try to get paid (decently) as a professional.


Professionals sometimes do charity works, but doing this on a regular basis… I cannot imagine this… I agree that if we never are paid properly, our enthusiasm will fade soon.


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Sylvano
Local time: 20:31
English to French
We agree, Maya Jun 26, 2007

Maya Gorgoshidze wrote:

Sylvano wrote:

1) Being bi- or trilingual doesn't make you a good translator (for subtitles or in other fields). Easier to criticize subtitles than writing them, believe me.


Yes, that's right, but please agree that this is a very good start, namely in subtitling job…


Well yes, but most of all, a good translator has to master his/her native/target language, don't you think ?



Sylvano wrote:

2) Working for the only sake of 'culture' or 'correct understanding' and stating you don't care how much you're paid sounds shocking for the professional I am. Either you stay an amateur (and do fansub) or you act and try to get paid (decently) as a professional.


Maya Gorgoshidze wrote:

Professionals sometimes do charity works, but doing this on a regular basis… I cannot imagine this… I agree that if we never are paid properly, our enthusiasm will fade soon.


True, but charity work should be... free. Not cheap. And it can't be a rule, anyway. Or it's not work anymore, only a hobby.

[Edited at 2007-06-26 07:24]

[Edited at 2007-06-26 07:24]

[Edited at 2007-06-26 07:25]


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Maya Gorgoshidze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 22:31
Member (2004)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Partly agree Jun 27, 2007

Sylvano wrote:

Well yes, but most of all, a good translator has to master his/her native/target language, don't you think ?


Of course you are right, but professionalism + being bi- or three-lingual is a considerable advantage. Professionalism comes with education and experience, but it is achieved easier when the base is favorable.

Sylvano wrote:

True, but charity work should be... free. Not cheap. And it can't be a rule, anyway. Or it's not work anymore, only a hobby.


Is charity always free? Do you really think so? You see, I cannot say that I always work at a low rate, but in very rare cases I was in some uncommon situations when I was ready to do some work for free, but could not refuse to receive “symbolic payment”, because I did not want to insult the “client”... And of course it can't be a rule, anyway (agree 100%).

I remember some years ago my mother came home with 5 pairs of handmade stocking in her hands. She bought them in the street from an old woman. None of us needed them and the size was not ours… You see, she could not simply give her money, because she felt that this would insult her.

Of course this is from another opera, but the main idea is the same. Owing to some reasons, if the client (a person, charity organization, non-profit organization, etc,) cannot pay the real cost for my work, but does not feel comfortable to have it done for free (and the reason is clear for me), I always agree with his/her conditions, if I have free time and desire to help. But I should underline this does not happen regularly. I believe one should always receive the reward he/she deserves.



[Edited at 2007-06-27 12:19]


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GabLuz
Local time: 15:31
English to Portuguese
DivXLand Media Subtitler Jun 29, 2007

You can use DivXLand Media Subtitler from DivXLand's site.

It is the best freeware tool available and it's very easy to use.
Download it now at http://www.divxland.org/get.php?id=2

It works on Windows only.

Note:
Write your text in a plain-text file such Notepad's and open it with DivXLand Media Subtitler. Once you done it, start timing it!
If you have any doubts, look for me.

Ah, almost forgot!
My name is Gabriel, I'm from Brazil.
Nice to meet you, guys!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
DivXLand Media Subtitler x Subtitle Workshop Jun 29, 2007

GabLuz wrote:
You can use DivXLand Media Subtitler from DivXLand's site.
It is the best freeware tool available and it's very easy to use.


Olá, Gabriel,
(Let's keep it in English for the sake of all others here.)

I use Media Subtitler (MS) to create a blank file to use with Subtitle Workshop (SW). I haven't found the right way to do it with the latter.

IMHO MS is too adrenalin-based for me... if I understood the instructions correctly, I'm expected to watch the film going non-stop in real time, and then go clicking away all the subtitle changes. It's a matter of less than a minute before I get lost in the process. So I think it's not a game for beginners.

On the other hand, SW is easy to learn and to use. I used it for the first time a client asked me to translate and spot/timecode the subtitles for a video. As I had everything I needed, I took some lessons from http://www.videohelp.com , burned the subtitles and recorded a DVD. Meanwhile some accident took place at the studio that was doing it for real, and the bottom line is that the client is still using my first subtitling attempt ever.

I learned that some professional studios are using SW. In spite of being free, it stands a chance of becoming the industry standard, like MS Word for text. The real issue is how the subtitles file is processed afterwards to build the DVD.


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xxxUndoer of Ba  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:31
English to German
The right number of characters Jun 30, 2007

Here on Portuguese TV there are many American movies and series with subtitles. Although I speak both languages, it is interesting (and sometimes shocking) to see how they translated this and that.
It also depends a lot on the fonts used (the other day I saw a movie with subtitles all in narrow italics!?!) and on the background (without a solid background bar of a contrasting color reading becomes much more difficult).
Another factor is literacy of the targeted audience. In some countries there is a high level of functional illiteracy among the literate, which speeds down reading considerably.


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Frode Aleksandersen  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 20:31
Member (2007)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Subtitle reading speed Jul 3, 2007

Sylvano wrote:

L3r0y wrote:
You must know how fast people read. In French, I know it is 74 signs per subtitle.


Not really. It depends on the duration of a given subtitle (usually from 1 to 5 seconds).
The basic rule is 2 images = 1 character (with 25 images in each second).


That would only be 12 characters per second, which is way too low. People read faster than that without issues. The problem is that the old closed captioning system for TV broadcasting has other limitations with regards to text size and readability. If you do subtitles for DVDs then a totally different set of rules apply.

For instance, in some of my contract work for instance the rule was max 70 characters per line, and broken up into two lines of 35 each (one event). Minimum duration for an event was 1.5 seconds. That comes to 46 characters per second. People who are used to reading subtitles generally don't have problems with this kind of speed. It is however the extreme and most lines that long will usually last for 3-6 seconds.

In short - don't apply broadcasting rules to other media where subtitles are higher resolution and can have smaller font sizes and thus don't impact readability or the active picture area in the same way.

[Edited at 2007-07-03 14:05]


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Sylvano
Local time: 20:31
English to French
Each place has its rules Jul 4, 2007

Frode Aleksandersen wrote:

Sylvano wrote:

L3r0y wrote:
You must know how fast people read. In French, I know it is 74 signs per subtitle.


Not really. It depends on the duration of a given subtitle (usually from 1 to 5 seconds).
The basic rule is 2 images = 1 character (with 25 images in each second).


That would only be 12 characters per second, which is way too low. People read faster than that without issues. The problem is that the old closed captioning system for TV broadcasting has other limitations with regards to text size and readability. If you do subtitles for DVDs then a totally different set of rules apply.

For instance, in some of my contract work for instance the rule was max 70 characters per line, and broken up into two lines of 35 each (one event). Minimum duration for an event was 1.5 seconds. That comes to 46 characters per second. People who are used to reading subtitles generally don't have problems with this kind of speed. It is however the extreme and most lines that long will usually last for 3-6 seconds.

In short - don't apply broadcasting rules to other media where subtitles are higher resolution and can have smaller font sizes and thus don't impact readability or the active picture area in the same way.

[Edited at 2007-07-03 14:05]


I know reading speed differs from country to country, but in France (the specific place we were discussing here), people are not so familiar with subtitles as you do in Northern Europe. With a reading speed of 12-14 cps, subtitles will last 1 to 4 seconds (sometimes 5). If you double characters AND double on-screen duration, reading speed doesn't really seem to be increased.


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