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What is a reasonable rate for translating subtitles?
Thread poster: 564354352
564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
+ ...
Jun 28, 2012

I am considering signing up with an American company that sells subtitling "across the universe" and am somewhat surprised at the rate offered for this work.

I would like to hear from experienced subtitle translators what you consider a decent fee in this specialised field of translation work, and/or what you know from experience is 'the going rate' / what one should expect to be paid.


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 01:02
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Try Google that Jun 28, 2012

I googled "subtitling rates" and you get loads of hits.
Even from our own forums.

I haven´t looked at all of them, but by a quick glance it looks like subtitling is paid anything from USD1 per runtime minute to USD5.

It is hard work and very funny to do, but without the "regular" translation jobs in between, I doubt one can live on it.

Dinny


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Birgir24  Identity Verified
Iceland
Local time: 22:02
Member (2011)
English to Icelandic
+ ...
You might be referring to an American company I've been working for Jun 28, 2012

Hello,

I've been working for a certain American company for the last 5 years doing subtitle work. Feel free to send me a message if you require any info. The rates as stated before do seem accurate...

Best,

Birgir


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Usch Pilz
Local time: 00:02
English to German
+ ...
A dollar a minute? Jun 28, 2012

A dollar a minute?
I know some people who have been doing subtitles professionally for years. They can do a 90 minute movie in about 4 - 6 working days.
So 90 USD for 4 - 6 working days?
I think there has to be a mistake.
Best regards
Usch


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sounds a bit weird to me Jun 28, 2012

Well, the rate I was offered is $4.50 per running minute, which seems very low to me, although, of course, it depends on how much speech there is within each minute. But as Usch says, I would imagine that translating a feature length film (90-120 minutes?) would take several days to ensure quality work.

I thought this would be fun to try, branching out beyond the kind of translation work that I normally do, but at this rate, I would have to do it just for that - for fun, as a sort of hobby, not for the money.

Out of interest, Usch - do you know what your friends would normally charge for such work? And are they working for American companies or within Europe?


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Usch Pilz
Local time: 00:02
English to German
+ ...
Not 100% sure ... Jun 28, 2012

... but the fees people were able to charge have gone down in the last few years. From what I hear, they would be charging around € 10 a running minute. For many this is the lowest they will go, since they have to make a living in a European country.
In the olden days they were paid per title. But this hardly ever happens any more.
I don't know which companies they work with.
You also have to take into consideration that many people doing subtitles are working with costly software which they purchase themselves.
So please - don't go too low.
Good luck!
Usch


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's still quite low... Jun 28, 2012

Hi Usch

Thanks, this is really helpful. In my world, working at $4.50 per running minute on a 90-minute film would mean translating the entire film within an 8-hour working day to make it even remotely worthwhile... I wonder what the quality would be like then?

Kind regards
Gitte


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:02
English
+ ...
Rates vary according to the language pair Jun 28, 2012

If you work in a rare language pair, you're able to request a higher rate purely because there's less competition, as with standard translation. Personally, I wouldn't do translation for less than £6 per minute, which is equivalent to about $9.

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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And how does the rate compare to the time you spend? Jun 28, 2012

Thanks, Kenneth

May I ask if you can then say something vaguely general about how much time you would expect to spend, on average, translating one running minute? (I know it will vary depending on the film material, the speed of speech and the amount of text to be translated, but just a very rough estimate would help me a lot.)


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Jean@LA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
English to Chinese--Movies: $3.5-$5 per min; business ed. videos: $5-$10 per min. Jun 28, 2012

Hi Gitte, I've been qualified by a few subtitling houses in Burbank, CA. Done a few on-site QCs and movie subtitle translation.

Based on my experience, if you'd like some fun in between regular written translation jobs, try one or two to have a feel. As you might have expected, subtitle translation is much more time consuming than document translation. Sometimes, you need to go back to the same spot and view the film/video over and over to pick up some nuances that are not shown in the script. You could spend a few days to do just a 90-minute film.

In addition, their deadlines are almost "mission-impossible" because subtitle translation is only a small part of the whole movie production process. Your work time tend to be squeezed a lot because of the bargaining disadvantage. As for the more lucrative business training videos, they're hard to come by.

For me, I gave up the idea of "having fun" when tight deadlines were imposed over and over. Nowadays, I hardly do any subtitling translation because of the above reasons. Hope this helps.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
It all helps Jun 28, 2012

Hi Jean

Yes, thanks for your comments, it is great to hear your perspective, which sounds like it is based on the kind of work I am considering. I am wondering why it is so badly paid compared to 'ordinary' translation, as it is quite a specialised way of working and requires completely different skills from say, technical or legal translation, which seems to be paid at a much higher rate. After all, subtitles will potentially be seen/read by hundreds, if not thousands of people, unlike many written documents only aimed at a few people. The potential detriment to the company selling such subtitles would seem to be quite serious (not saying that a badly translated technical or legal document has less detrimental effect, but it's a different kind of 'public' exposure).

I have done some audio transcription/translation and would expect to spend about 4-5 minutes per running minute on that, and I sort of imagine that subtitling might take at least that amount of time, is this your experience, too?

Very interesting stuff, thanks.

Gitte


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 01:02
Italian to Danish
+ ...
20 minutes a day Jun 29, 2012

This is what I can normally do. Depending on the type of video, it takes from 5-8 hours to do 20 minutes runtime. Some tv-series are just fun, and you can make one of those (generally 21-22 minutes) in max. 5 hours. Others require tons of research (often medical) and 20 minutes might take up a whole 8 hours working day.

Then you have to add time for your reviewer to correct/comment and for you to check out the final version before delivery. Another ½-1 hour.

It is funny work - but stick to your regular other clients to be able to pay your bills.



Dinny


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
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Getting a clearer picture now Jun 29, 2012

Thanks Dinny

I guess it's a question of giving it a go, see how I do, then decide whether I think it's worth it or try to negotiate a rate that corresponds to the amount of hours I put in?

Gitte


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:02
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Depending on the recording quality Jun 29, 2012

Dinny wrote:


This is what I can normally do. Depending on the type of video, it takes from 5-8 hours to do 20 minutes runtime. Some tv-series are just fun, and you can make one of those (generally 21-22 minutes) in max. 5 hours. Others require tons of research (often medical) and 20 minutes might take up a whole 8 hours working day.

Then you have to add time for your reviewer to correct/comment and for you to check out the final version before delivery. Another ½-1 hour.

It is funny work - but stick to your regular other clients to be able to pay your bills.



Dinny



This is about my experience. I've done several video translation (German to English) for dubbing, and found that I can do about one lip-synx video translation (23 - 25 minutes) a day. Since these were educational videos, there was some research involved. But it was fun, aside from a decent rate.

However, when the outsourcer (in Asia) decided that there were several translators (I assume in Asia) who could do the same work for US 100.00 less, that is about USD 6.40/minute, I've decided to move on to (hopefully) greener pastures.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:02
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Seems that rates vary a lot Jun 29, 2012

Thanks Thayenga, very helpful, too. If you know that $6.40 is considerably lower than what some outsourcers pay, then the $4.50 I have been offered seem even more out of touch with reality.

Gitte


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