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A few questions about terminology and subtitling software
Thread poster: fionainrome
fionainrome
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 21, 2007

I work with two subtitling agencies in Rome and I am now trying to get a few clients abroad.
I've started sending my CV to the States and the UK and I have been asked about my skills.
The problem is I don't understand some of the "technical terminology" (if I can call it that) because I've only ever worked in an Italian-speaking environment when it comes to subtitling.

For example I've been asked about transcription from video and from audio. Does that mean I have to translate the film from scratch from the video (ok, I've done that)... but from audio?

And what about closed captioning? I think I've never done this.
I am then asked about my previous employers. The form is divided into two sections, one says VIDEO PRODUCER and the other RECENT EMPLOYER. I was thinking of putting the company's name under recent employer, but what do they mean by "video producer"?

Don't kill me now, but I have another question which has nothing to do with terminology.
If I start working with British or American agencies I'll be working from home, obviously. Well, the only subtitling software I have on my laptop is SUBTITLE WORKSHOP. I'm also familiar with WINCAPS, which I use from the office, but do not have at home.
Do you think the company will provide the right software or is this just wishful thinking?


Thanks for your help.

[Edited at 2007-12-21 15:21]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-12-21 15:47]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Attempted answers Dec 21, 2007

Ciao, Fiona,

I'm some kind of oddball among video translators, because I developed my own working method to translate for dubbing from VHS some 20 years ago, and just adapted it for digital video and subtitling later. The bottom line is that I actually translate from audio. Never mind.

Of course you can translate for subtitling with digital video directly using Subtitle Workshop (IMHO the best) or many other similar programs. If they want you to translate from audio, the reason may be that they don't want to have the trouble of converting the video into a smaller frame size, nor e-mail you gigabytes of video files.

It doesn't work too well to translate video from audio alone. Whenever you have to guess, chances are you'll get it wrong. For instance, if they say "Miss! Miss!", and there is just noise around, no context, would you translate it as "Signorina! Signorina!", "Sbagli! Sbagli!", oppure "Perdi! Perdi!"? It makes no sense to me. Anyway, if you need good, free, audio transcription software (I use it for video translation, however I watch the film first and check it afterwards), use ExpressScribe from http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html , which will convert your PC into a dictaphone.

Closed captioning is a full transcription of the audio, including noise, for the hearing impaired. My suggestion: rent a DVD that has the CC indication on the label, turn the CC on, and watch it to understand the rules of the game. It works differently from subtitling, and I have never got into the technical aspects of it. So far, I've only been asked to do it as permanent subtitles on an occupational safety video. I used slightly smaller letters, Arial Narrow (which many subtitlers use) in green, insted of my usual Trebuchet (AFAIK nobody else uses it for subtitling, only me) in yellow.

Video producers are Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Disney, and alikes, as well as their counterparts of all shapes and sizes, including that guy on the corner that now and then shoots a wedding video, or a documentary on the new gizmo factory.

Subtitle Workshop is good for making subtitle files compatible with some 50+ subtitling programs, but each company has its preferred subtitling software. If whatever you deliver cannot be easily converted into their format, you will be out of the game.

Finally, anything you'd like to know about digital video can be found searching http://www.videohelp.com . I was just a translator for dubbing. Dipped my toes into subtitling some 4 years ago and, with the info I got from this site ever since, I'm subtitling and authoring quite complex DVDs.

Good luck!


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fionainrome
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
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TOPIC STARTER
tricky... Dec 24, 2007

[quote]José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If they want you to translate from audio, the reason may be that they don't want to have the trouble of converting the video into a smaller frame size, nor e-mail you gigabytes of video files.

Help! Translating from audio sounds almost impossible. Well, not impossible meaning I couldn't do it, but the result would be far from correct.
For example "Dov'è ora?" "A casa."
"Where is HE?" "HE's at home." or "Where is she?" "She's at home." OR "Where are you?" "I'm at home." Basically you have to see who's talking to get it right, otherwise it's as good as guessing.

[quote]
Subtitle Workshop is good for making subtitle files compatible with some 50+ subtitling programs, but each company has its preferred subtitling software. If whatever you deliver cannot be easily converted into their format, you will be out of the game.

Help again! If the company use Wincaps for example, then Subtitle Workshop wouldn't be compatible, would it? What would you do in my position? Would you buy the appropriate software (or can it be downloaded from the internet)? I wouldn't consider buying a software until I'm pretty sure (as much as one can be in this field) that the company will give me quite a bit of work. I wouldn't want to spend money on a software I might end up only using a few times.

Thanks José and Merry Christmas!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You'd need a demo Dec 24, 2007

fionainrome wrote:
Help again! If the company use Wincaps for example, then Subtitle Workshop wouldn't be compatible, would it? What would you do in my position? Would you buy the appropriate software (or can it be downloaded from the internet)? I wouldn't consider buying a software until I'm pretty sure (as much as one can be in this field) that the company will give me quite a bit of work. I wouldn't want to spend money on a software I might end up only using a few times.


Dead right!

I bought my first PageMaker when a good client of mine decided to adopt it as a standard, and made an implicit commitment to give me enough translation with DTP work to make my buying it worthwhile. This was maybe 15 years ago. At that time I also bought a USD 7,000 PostScript laser printer (now they're way, way cheaper). Both PM and the printer paid for themselves in three months, as in those days few people had laser printers here.

So the best would be for you to get some not-copyrighted film (maybe from some NGO that would love to have it further widespread, or those found on the web that had some flaws on the copyright registration), subtitle it, burn it to a DVD, and show as a sample of your work. If based on that your prospect accepts to commit to an initial work volume that would make your software purchase viable, at worst you'll break even, and still have the software.

Merry Christmas!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
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Clarifications Dec 27, 2007

fionainrome wrote:

I work with two subtitling agencies in Rome and I am now trying to get a few clients abroad.
I've started sending my CV to the States and the UK and I have been asked about my skills.
..........
For example, I've been asked about transcription from video and from audio. Does that mean I have to translate the film from scratch from the video (ok, I've done that)... but from audio?
...............
I am then asked about my previous employers. The form is divided into two sections, one says VIDEO PRODUCER and the other RECENT EMPLOYER. I was thinking of putting the company's name under recent employer, but what do they mean by "video producer"?

If I start working with British or American agencies I'll be working from home, obviously. Well, the only subtitling software I have on my laptop is SUBTITLE WORKSHOP. I'm also familiar with WINCAPS, which I use from the office, but do not have at home.
Do you think the company will provide the right software or is this just wishful thinking?


It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion in your mind and carelessness on the part of the agencies when sending you their application forms.

First of all, I think you mean you TRANSLATE subtitles as a freelance translator for some Italian agencies.
You have to make sure that your application to other subtitling agencies makes that clear.

Transcription is a different matter and strictly speaking it has nothing to do with translation. That means writing down the original text as it is, and for that you don't necessarily have to have pictures. On the other hand, that task is best done by native language speakers.

Video producer, recent employer? Well, you are not applying for a video producer's job or an in-house job. Therefore, these questions are not relevant to you. Make sure, they understand what you are applying for. What you can provide are experience/track record, references, and/or test translation (if required).
(As for "putting the company's name" - I don't quite understand. Are you or are you not a freelancer?)

Lastly, some agencies supply their own software to tried and tested translators, particularly when the language combination is in demand. You have to ask them, what software they are using, if it is a commercial one do they require you to have it, or else.

This is neither guesswork nor common knowledge. Agencies have different policies and they may change these policies from time to time. They may have different requirements for certain languages or from different clients.
The only relevant policies for you are those they are applying right now to your language combinations, and you have to ask them what these are, once they show interest in sending work to you.


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fionainrome
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My worries... Dec 28, 2007

[quote]
It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion in your mind and carelessness on the part of the agencies when sending you their application forms.

[quote]
First of all, I think you mean you TRANSLATE subtitles as a freelance translator for some Italian agencies.
You have to make sure that your application to other subtitling agencies makes that clear.

I never said I do not translate. I simply said I work with (not FOR) two subtitling agencies.
In my application I specified I translate subtitles and I know perfectly well that a transcription does not necessarily involve translation (though this is how I usually do it).
I suppose I should have said transcription+translation?

I don't know why this agency asked me about the other companies I did translations for,
I thought it was a matter of references.

About softwares, I heard that most companies provide the software they use, especially if they are thinking of "using" you regularly, but it seems to me that there are so many different experiences and situations in this field that you can never take anything for granted (far from it, in fact!).

My greatest fear is that of being "tricked" (allow me to use this word, please) into buying software I don't really need (because maybe I'll only end up using it once or twice).

I'm also worried about accepting work before viewing it and being able to estimate the time which will be required to complete it. This has happened to me before. An agency which had always given me films to translate with the aid of a script, started giving me scripts which had nothing to do with the film's dialogue or were really messy and difficult to read.
When I complained about this and asked to be paid more, they plainly refused!

How can one avoid getting stuck in this kind of situation?
Thanks.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some clarification, I hope Dec 28, 2007

fionainrome wrote:
In my application I specified I translate subtitles and I know perfectly well that a transcription does not necessarily involve translation (though this is how I usually do it). I suppose I should have said transcription+translation?


I never transcribe video for translating, unless the client speficially requests so. And for those that request transcription + translation for dubbing or subtitling, I charge double, because that's two different jobs. If they want me to transcribe, and then translate the script (possible to re-shoot it in another language, my best guess), I charge this translation on a per-word, and not per-minute rate.

I don't know why this agency asked me about the other companies I did translations for, I thought it was a matter of references.


I really hope so.

About softwares, I heard that most companies provide the software they use, especially if they are thinking of "using" you regularly, but it seems to me that there are so many different experiences and situations in this field that you can never take anything for granted (far from it, in fact!).

My greatest fear is that of being "tricked" (allow me to use this word, please) into buying software I don't really need (because maybe I'll only end up using it once or twice).


... especially if it's their own proprietary software, and they charge a bundle for it. This would sound like the 'Trados fever' here at Proz. Some outsourcers stomp on their feet demanding sine qua non Trados and certification for a three-page handwritten document translation job.

I'm also worried about accepting work before viewing it and being able to estimate the time which will be required to complete it. This has happened to me before. An agency which had always given me films to translate with the aid of a script, started giving me scripts which had nothing to do with the film's dialogue or were really messy and difficult to read.
When I complained about this and asked to be paid more, they plainly refused!


I've grown used to work without scripts. The few I get seldom match the final edit. While translating for dubbing, the script, associated with the law of least effort, is often an encumbrance: I have to put it away to do a decent job!

Many - if not most - video translators charge extra when a script is not provided. I don't, but I reckon it's my personal choice.

How can one avoid getting stuck in this kind of situation?
Thanks.


My suggestion is to get to an average per-minute rate. You'll win on some, lose on others, but keep a healthy average. If anyone comes to you with a large package of something noticeably easy, you may exceptionally lower that rate.

For instance, once I had a collection of 20+ documentaries to translate for dubbing (actually VO) on various animals, intended for high school. They were pausedly and clearly narrated (otherwise kids might not understand it), and the vocabulary was pretty simple. I gave them a 45% discount, and it was still quite worthwhile for me.

HTH.


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fionainrome
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
V.O? Dec 28, 2007

[quote]

For instance, once I had a collection of 20+ documentaries to translate for dubbing (actually VO) on various animals, intended for high school. They were pausedly and clearly narrated (otherwise kids might not understand it), and the vocabulary was pretty simple. I gave them a 45% discount, and it was still quite worthwhile for me.

First of all, thanks.
I would also like to ask you what translation for dubbing is (VO).
I have never done that.
Also, how much would you charge for minute of translation fro subtitling?
I don't know if I can ask you that, so feel free not to answer.
Thanks!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I understand, but... Dec 28, 2007

[quote]fionainrome wrote:


First of all, I think you mean you TRANSLATE subtitles as a freelance translator for some Italian agencies.
You have to make sure that your application to other subtitling agencies makes that clear.


I never said I do not translate. I simply said I work with (not FOR) two subtitling agencies.
In my application I specified I translate subtitles and I know perfectly well that a transcription does not necessarily involve translation (though this is how I usually do it).
I suppose I should have said transcription+translation?
[quote/]

Well, you didn't say that you do not translate; you just said, "I work with..." What that means is open to guesswork.
That's why I said: I presume you mean translation.

Although as a freelancer, I am happy to say I work "for" several agencies, and they may say that they work "with" a number of translators.


I don't know why this agency asked me about the other companies I did translations for,
I thought it was a matter of references.

Indeed, that is confusion on the agency's part, and you can disregard it or clarify it for them that your application is for translation and maybe transcription work.


About software, I heard that most companies provide the software they use, especially if they are thinking of "using" you regularly, but it seems to me that there are so many different experiences and situations in this field that you can never take anything for granted (far from it, in fact!).

My greatest fear is that of being "tricked" (allow me to use this word, please) into buying software I don't really need (because maybe I'll only end up using it once or twice).

That is absolutely correct. That is the subject you have to discuss with the agencies showing interest towards you. Either they are willing to give you their software, (which you can only use for their work anyway) or you would have to find at least two agencies using the same commercial software to make it more viable to buy one.
You have to work out, say, how many feature films do you have to translate to recoup the cost of the software, to decide is it worth it?
In any case, you cannot take any client for granted, because they are nearly as vulnerable as you are. Their workload can also fluctuate or change enormously.

Like any freelance work, it is better not to put all your eggs into one basket.


I'm also worried about accepting work before viewing it and being able to estimate the time which will be required to complete it. This has happened to me before. An agency which had always given me films to translate with the aid of a script, started giving me scripts which had nothing to do with the film's dialogue or were really messy and difficult to read.
When I complained about this and asked to be paid more, they plainly refused!

How can one avoid getting stuck in this kind of situation?
Thanks.


Usually the agencies give a reasonable amount of time, but not too much. A competent translator of subtitles can turn around an average of three feature films a week. Some takes longer than others, some less. Also, the agencies don't care for people who want to pick and choose. You can get magnificent films, and rubbish. Swings and roundabouts all the way, as they say.

The length of the film gives you one indicator of the approximate time you may need, and the period, subject, director gives a hint of the film's verbosity. "Psychological dramas" are likely to have twice as much dialogue in them than westerns. Films for children are average, but films dealing with certain subjects, (sport, flying, submarines, war, science etc) will need more research. Songs, if they have to be translated, are always extra.

You may know the film already, or you may never heard of it and never will again. It can be a 50 years old film, or a brand new one, waiting to be released. No way they would let you have a preview in that case.

Scripts usually differ from the actual dialogue, because they are the "original" scripts and unless they are edited to match the film afterwards, they will not be exactly the same.
They are also peppered with instructions, scene changes, etc. so they are messy. Not all of them are edited, and they should be used only to clarify some details if in doubt, not to translate them. Lucky, if you get a post-edited script, but the opposite is the norm. More often than not, they don't even provide a script, you have to do without, and query the really dubious bits.

Speaking from experience, I would say that the script is not that important. At the beginning, I used to spend ages to mull over the script, trying to piece it together to tie up with the film to no avail. Forget it. It is better to mark the problematic passage and go back to it later. Often by the time you get to the end of the film you know exactly how to tackle it.

Bottom line: just like with everything, there is a price to be paid for learning the trade. That price can be a burden if you find the job difficult and don't enjoy the work, or quite acceptable if it suit you. Only you can decide.

[Edited at 2007-12-28 19:48]

[Edited at 2007-12-28 19:51]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
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I didn't see your reply... Dec 28, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

fionainrome wrote:
About softwares, I heard that most companies provide the software they use, especially if they are thinking of "using" you regularly, but it seems to me that there are so many different experiences and situations in this field that you can never take anything for granted (far from it, in fact!).

My greatest fear is that of being "tricked" (allow me to use this word, please) into buying software I don't really need (because maybe I'll only end up using it once or twice).


... especially if it's their own proprietary software, and they charge a bundle for it. This would sound like the 'Trados fever' here at Proz. Some outsourcers stomp on their feet demanding sine qua non Trados and certification for a three-page handwritten document translation job.


That's where you have to draw the line. No payment for their software!
Decent agencies don't ask for it, but as I said, you can only use their software for the work they give you.
Fair enough.


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fionainrome
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
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TOPIC STARTER
This is what happened with the scripts Dec 28, 2007

Dear Juvera, the fact is, or rather " was ", that this agency paid me almost double when no script was provided. So when I found that I was being given scripts that were so useless it was like not having one at all, I thought "Hey, they should be paying me as much as they do when I'm working on the film from scratch."

I'll go into detail. They used to give 350 euros net for 100 minute fetaure film (transcription+translation no time coding) and around 180 net for the same kind of work but WITH a script. Now, the first few times the script matched the dialogue perfectly, which helped a lot because there was quite a bit of slang in the films, then, the last few times, the scripts were useless, unusable, so I ended up doing the same work I was doing before, but for half the money.

I found this totally unfair and since they refused to see my point of view, I stopped working with (for) them. What else could I do?
I find it so annoying that people in this field (as in many others, I imagine) try to exploit you, especially when you're just starting off!

Thanks for your help.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Answers Dec 28, 2007

fionainrome wrote:
First of all, thanks.
I would also like to ask you what translation for dubbing is (VO).


VO stands for voice-over.

One case is the film or a segment thereof being narrated, so there is no need for lip-sync, the translator has more flexibility, but in exchange a better text is expected.

Another case is a common resource for an acceptable cheaper dubbing, often used for documentaries, where many people are interviewed. To dub that would cost an unnecessary fortune.
Imagine a documentary on some place, where they interview, say, 30 people. By Brazilian laws (I don't know about other countries), one actor can dub one major role and no more than 2 other incidental extras. They get paid for at least the first hour of work. Try to imagine the cost 10 dubbers for a short documentary!
So they get 3 artists: one narrator, one man and one woman. The narrator will dub all the narration. No lip-sync, as there won't be any lips on the screen. Every time someone comes up on the screen, as soon as they start to talk, the volume is lowered, and the VO artist of the corresponding gender says the translation, without sync, without much dramatization. They must finish just before the interviewee onscreen, and the volume of the original soundtrack is restored. The "couple" acts as the spectator's interpreter.
Translation for VO narration must match the sequence of images as they appear, otherwise it's pretty free. The narrator will strive to sync, e.g. "As you see here..." with what should be seen there. For the man/woman, though all original pauses will vanish, the text should be slightly shorter, to allow them to start later, speak clearly, and finish first.


I have never done that.
Also, how much would you charge for minute of translation fro subtitling?
I don't know if I can ask you that, so feel free not to answer.


I'd have no problem with that, but I think it's forbidden here. Proz management wouldn't like reverse auctions or whatever taking over the forums.

Anyway, it would be in Brazilian reais (BRL) per minute, probably meaningless to you and in your markets. It's higher than the average, as I specialize in training, technical, corporate video, not commercial/TV.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
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That's different Dec 28, 2007

fionainrome wrote:

Dear Juvera, the fact is, or rather " was ", that this agency paid me almost double when no script was provided. So when I found that I was being given scripts that were so useless it was like not having one at all, I thought "Hey, they should be paying me as much as they do when I'm working on the film from scratch."

I'll go into detail. They used to give 350 euros net for 100 minute fetaure film (transcription+translation no time coding) and around 180 net for the same kind of work but WITH a script. Now, the first few times the script matched the dialogue perfectly, which helped a lot because there was quite a bit of slang in the films, then, the last few times, the scripts were useless, unusable, so I ended up doing the same work I was doing before, but for half the money.

I found this totally unfair and since they refused to see my point of view, I stopped working with (for) them. What else could I do?
I find it so annoying that people in this field (as in many others, I imagine) try to exploit you, especially when you're just starting off!

Thanks for your help.


I would have done the same.

The only comment I can make that when the script matches the dialogue, there is no need for transcribing.

I would always price different tasks separately. In any case transcribing is very different from translating, and these two tasks are usually better done by two people, native in the respective languages.

Translation of subtitles, as José said before, is different from creating a text for VO and both of them are different from preparing text for dubbing. You should concentrate on one of them, and I suggest subtitle translation until you get tons of experience and ready to move on to learn about the others.


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