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$100 to translate subtitles Eng-Swedish?
Thread poster: victoria F

victoria F
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jun 25, 2007

I live in Los Angeles, and was offered $100 to translate subtitles for a 50 min tv show. The script was 53 pages and came in word document form with time codes. I had to replace the English with Swedish.
It was supposed to be a test to see how I did. It took me 20 hours to do, because I haven't done it before and do not have any software.
They had originally said it would be 30 pages. Anyway, I finished it, delivered it on time and decided if they want me to do another one that it probably wouldn't be worth it unless I got at least $300. The next day they sent me another script, along with a contract of $100. I contacted them and asked for $300. They replied that I should use a software called Trados, and that it will take me 5 hours, and if I want to continue they would "review my rate accordingly". I feel like I'm getting ripped off with just $100.
What do you guys think?


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:52
Member (2002)
English to German
You are right Jun 25, 2007

A lot of colleagues are interested in subtitling. Even more students want to do it and I guess it's because it is "hip" having translated a well-known movie.
It seems that the leading subtitling companies are not concerned about quality that much and since there is such a high demand for their jobs they can take advantage of this situation.
And they do.
The only thing I can recommend is to stay away from this industry segment since I am not aware of any exceptions paying decent rates.

Andy

www.interlations.com


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:52
French to Spanish
+ ...
Translation for subtitling. Jun 26, 2007

1.- I've never used Trados: AFAIK, it is a memory that allows you not to repeat translation. OK. Don't think that will be very usefull for subtitles, except for No, Yes, Thank you, Bye, etc.
2.- "It was supposed to be a test to see how I did. It took me 20 hours to do, because I haven't done it before and do not have any software." Of course, in Word, almost 3 days, just for 50 minutes. A lot of dialogues, then. Again, I don't think Trados will help much.
3.- Rates in the U.S.A. are around $ 5 per minute = $ 250, not $ 100, you're right. And Swedish must be considered a "rare" language, I suppose. More money, I guess.
4.- And, strange, you don't mention the video/audio file. I guess you didn't even see what you were translating... bad, very bad strategy... not yours, of course. Your translation will be full of errors, believe me. Nobody will check your translation against image and people in Sweden will say: "Who the h... did this?" NEVER translate subtitles without seeing the video. I've done it once, a long time ago. Never again. Client will tell you you're a lousy translator.

Best of lucks.


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xxxPRen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:52
French to English
+ ...
Well, you earned... Jun 26, 2007

You earned five bucks an hour. Are you kidding? They pay more at McDonald's! (and I bet there's less stress!)

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Jande  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:52
Danish to English
+ ...
Eng-Swedish Jun 26, 2007

You should review the rates. There are standard rates usually per word. I'd say the hours you took are reasonable for the number of pages and that you won't get that much faster even with Trados.

So for me it's ok to do a test translation, but the next job has to be legitamate and paid at a reasonable if not higher rate, because now they know you are a good translator and they don't have to go through the pain of finding a new translator.

Don't be afraid to question the rates or refuse the work. At worst you won't get the low paid job and can get another higher paid one instead, so you can't lose.

Normal outsourcers are prepared to pay reasonable rates especially for eng-scandinavian languages.


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victoria F
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 26, 2007

Thanks for the info on software, rates etc. Good to know.
I did receive a video file, sorry I didn't mention that. It would have been totally off without it.
I guess I'm not quite done yet either. They sent back the file today for me to revise. I suppose they have some idea of if it works or not, after all. I have not looked at it yet, so I'm not sure how much extra work it will entail. I'm starting to regret ever getting involved.





[Edited at 2007-06-26 05:02]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
All this is very strange Jun 26, 2007

Victoria,

You say you got a 50+ pages script. Was that a transcript of the actual dialogue or the subtitles in English?

There is a whole technique in translating for subtitling. The idea is to shorten the dialogues, so there is some time left for the spectator to watch some of the action after reading. Otherwise it would be enough to fax or e-mail them the script, as they won't have a chance to acrually watch anything.

So, if the actor says something like: "I tend towards a diverging stance from yours", the subtitle should say "I disagree".

I had been translating for lip-sync dubbing for 17 years already before I dared to translate for subtitling for the first time. And I know colleagues who have been translating for subtitles about thay long, but who won't take a shot at translation for dubbing. No, one is not more difficult than the other, either way. They just involve two quite different techniques.

The issue is how much you should charge... Well there are amateurs around who do it for free, just for the thrill of it. There are wannabes who charge just a bit more than nothing, and whose 'masterpieces' we see now and then, at least on Brazilian cable TV. There are the standard pros, who do most of the TV/cinema work you see everywhere. And at last there are the masters of the art who do it for Disney ("absolutely perfect" is their minimum acceptable standard), and the people who handle corporate and training films like me.

To give you an idea, the price ratio (we charge translation per minute of playing time) between the above wannabes and my last group is roughly 1:5 in Brazil.

Before you think I have an overrated self-esteem, some clarification is needed. I began translating videos for dubbing in the human resources training environment, a market that demands Disney-like quality. So my work is languagewise specialized and s-l-o-w to get that level of quality. And therefore it's expensive, which keeps me out of the commercial video circuit. My per minute rate is high, but the films I get to translate are scarcer and shorter, so the bottom line amounts to the same. If I learned to work faster (and cheaper), I'd be in higher demand for this kind of job. FYI in average it takes me around 6 minutes to translate 1 minute of film.

It's a matter of positioning your services somewhere between hot dogs and haute cuisine.

Good luck!


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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:52
English to Arabic
This is a very low rate Jun 26, 2007

Descent and respectable subtitling companies pay 4 or 5 dollars per minute of the show for translating subtitles, and it doesn't require Trados, that's for sure. Most subtitling companies have their own software which they provide translators with, or they send time-coded subtitles in the source language in Word files.
I wouldn't advise you to accept that.

Good luck
Tamara


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victoria F
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply Jun 26, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

You say you got a 50+ pages script. Was that a transcript of the actual dialogue or the subtitles in English?


It was the subtitles in English. They told me to keep the sentences the same length.
Kind of looked like this:

0001 01:00:26:08 01:00:29:12


- Is it safe?

- Yes, the chamber has been sealed.


0002 01:00:29:22 01:00:33:07


- Where are the others?

- The Brotherhood has fallen, Astrum.


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xxxQuinox
Turkey
Local time: 13:52
English to Turkish
+ ...
Too little money for this work Jun 26, 2007

Hi,
It's not only the translators who think subtitling or dubbing translation is "hip". A few days ago I went to meet a new client and the lady from the translation office (that was a studio) told me "You'll have so much fun watching the movies before everyone else". I thought to myself "what a professional approach!". Who doesn't want to see a black&white, low-resolution video filled with watermarks and having timecodes running on the top and bottom? And there's also the fact that "the more fun the film is, the harder the work". I'm not quite sure if those wannabees realize these facts sooner or later.
I don't mean that I don't like this job. When I'm translating movies or series I really feel that I'm into the language business. But if it's about having fun, I do prefer seeing the movie in theatre then watching it on an office chair.
And who says Trados will increase your speed? Even if the sentences are exactly the same you can't always translate them the same way. I can understand the "OK, hello, see you" parts but you also need to consider the time you'll spend deleting its fuzzy matches.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
There are the standard pros, who do most of the TV/cinema work you see everywhere. And at last there are the masters of the art who do it for Disney ("absolutely perfect" is their minimum acceptable standard), and the people who handle corporate and training films like me.

I'm a bit frightened after your comments for those who do translations for Disney. I've done lip-sync translation for Disney TV series for the last six months and I can't consider myself as a master. I believe I did a good work but after I read what you wrote, I'm also thinking, "what if it wasn't good enough?" I really can't wait to see them on TV. Hope nobody feels the difference.

Regards,
Ekin


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's the time-coded subtitles all right Jun 27, 2007

victoria F wrote:
It was the subtitles in English. They told me to keep the sentences the same length.
Kind of looked like this:

0001 01:00:26:08 01:00:29:12
- Is it safe?
- Yes, the chamber has been sealed.


Yep, it's the subtitles all right. Matter of fact, you wouldn't need the film to translate them, but...
1. You'd replicate all bloopers (in a new language) the previous translator or transcriber created;
2. You'd create new bloopers of your own for not having actually seen what it's about;
3. You'd be groping in the dark for context.

The really cheap film distributor's VR dream is:
a) play the movie to the "ears" of ViaVoice or something of the kind, to have the audio in text format;
b) run the text file through some free machine translation software; and
c) have some "read aloud" software (like the one included in OmniPage) and automatically patch the sound on the video.
d) Hire the cheapest translator in the world to translate the label and written copyright notice.
e) Sell the resulting DVD cheap, rock bottom cheap, to millions of less-demanding customers, and make a bundle.


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Damian Harrison
Germany
Local time: 12:52
German to English
Certainly a rip-off Jun 27, 2007

A 20 hour test? Sadly, I honestly think these folks are just taking advantage of you. A test of your translation skills should not be beyond the range of 1 or 2 pages of script. That is enough to see what you are capable of. A 51 page test is simply a rip-off.

I cannot imagine that these people will ever play fair with you. You are right; for 20 hrs of work you want to be getting AT LEAST $300 - remember that´s half a working week and you want more from life than just work, right?

Their reference to Trados is ridiculous. In my (limited) experience Trados is only helpful for highly repetitive texts. And, oh I guess they forgot to mention that Trados costs something like $800 ? So, they are asking you to work 1600 hrs to buy some software that won´t increase your productivity one little bit.

Get your money and say goodbye to these folks UNLESS:

- you have no alternatives (stop-gap jobbing)
- you enjoyed the work so much that you could make peace with the situation
- you honestly believe you can learn something from this situation which you can´t learn anywhere else.

I think 20 hours spent working new contacts would be much more rewarding. Go for it and good luck.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Disney dubbing standards Jun 27, 2007

Ekin Çalışır wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
... the masters of the art who do it for Disney ("absolutely perfect" is their minimum acceptable standard)...

I'm a bit frightened after your comments for those who do translations for Disney. I've done lip-sync translation for Disney TV series for the last six months and I can't consider myself as a master. I believe I did a good work but after I read what you wrote, I'm also thinking, "what if it wasn't good enough?" I really can't wait to see them on TV. Hope nobody feels the difference.


Hi, Ekin,

It's not a matter of national pride, but I'd say that on an international comparison, Brazilian film dubbing as a whole stands out with a wider margin than our soccer or car racing, even considering past accomplishments.

I have worked with people who dub for Disney here. This is all hearsay, but they told me a few things, like:

- though many films reach the translator without a script, all Disney ones come with a most accurate script, including the translation of some "key" words in half a dozen languages, as well as a lot of helpful remarks. (I never saw one of these)

- there is a nameless Brazilian nit-picker in Los Angeles (Disneyland?) who will demand rework on the slightest translation/dubbing flaw before the film is released for distribution. Once a Disney film was dubbed in a very large - but not necessarily the best - dubbing studio, and this person required it to be re-dubbed from scratch in another studio with a different cast.


The average movie watcher WILL notice a sharp difference in quality for the better in any Disney (aka Buena Vista, Touchstone etc.) dubbed film. As a matter of fact, if you take one such DVD and hop through the various languages audio tracks, you'll see the Brazilian audio comes out much louder and clearer. The best example I saw was "Searching for Nemo", which even won a prize for dubbing here.

So I don't know if these Disney standards are worldwide. If they are, this should boost your professional self-esteem.

[Just a final note: I'm not saying that ALL Brazilian dubbing is so wonderful. We have dubbing quality in all possible shades, though the average is quite high.]


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victoria F
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good Bye Jun 27, 2007

Damian Harrison wrote:

Get your money and say goodbye to these folks



They don't seem willing to negotiate at all, so that's exactly what I will do. I learned my lesson, and hopefully I'll find another company to work with.


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xxxQuinox
Turkey
Local time: 13:52
English to Turkish
+ ...
Disney dubbing standards Jun 28, 2007

Hi, José,

Thanks for the detailed information.

I have worked with people who dub for Disney here. This is all hearsay, but they told me a few things, like:
- though many films reach the translator without a script, all Disney ones come with a most accurate script, including the translation of some "key" words in half a dozen languages, as well as a lot of helpful remarks. (I never saw one of these)

I have never translated a whole movie or episode without a script. There were good ones, bad ones, but always there was one. And in Disney scripts, there is always detailed information about puns, idioms, references, etc. But in the key words section there were only explanations in English. By the way, I have translated three Disney TV series and a direct-to-video film but not a real Disney movie intended for theaters (this might be the trick).

- there is a nameless Brazilian nit-picker in Los Angeles (Disneyland?) who will demand rework on the slightest translation/dubbing flaw before the film is released for distribution. Once a Disney film was dubbed in a very large - but not necessarily the best - dubbing studio, and this person required it to be re-dubbed from scratch in another studio with a different cast.

I don't know (and I really wonder) if there's a Turkish equivalent of that man or woman but our dubbing directors are quite picky and might give us hard time sometimes. The studio I'm working for does all the Disney stuff in Turkey so i think they must be doing it right.

The average movie watcher WILL notice a sharp difference in quality for the better in any Disney (aka Buena Vista, Touchstone etc.) dubbed film. As a matter of fact, if you take one such DVD and hop through the various languages audio tracks, you'll see the Brazilian audio comes out much louder and clearer. The best example I saw was "Searching for Nemo", which even won a prize for dubbing here.

They once said the very same things for Turkish dubbing but with all those cheap works the average quality is lower than it was (especially when you include the dubbing of TV films to that average).

Finally, thanks very much for giving an idea about world standards.


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