Starting out... a career in Spanish to English translation in the film, TV, DVD production industry
Thread poster: Kate Warren

Kate Warren  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 12, 2008

I have a university degree in French and Spanish and a postgraduate diploma in French to English translation. After several years teaching English as a Foreign Language and working in adminstration, I would now like to embark on a career in Spanish to English translation in the film, TV and DVD production industry.

So, I have a million questions which I would be very grateful for your response(s)!

How did you start out? Did you have a specialist audiovisual translation qualification? If you didn't, how did you learn about procedures and technology?

I imagine there are many production companies - big and small, who buy documentaries etc. from Spain and Latin America. Is there a monopoly on this area of production? If so, which companies might you recommend contacting? Can you give any tips?

Do the production companies tend to use in-house or freelance translators? Is it feasible to only offer one language combination?

Could you describe typical procedures? e.g. how work is proposed, whether the translator tends to do the entirety of the work at home or comes in at final editing stage, what software tends to be used etc. Perhaps procedures differ a lot from company to company?

Would you recommend buying any software?

Do people do this type of work full time, or do they inevitably do other types of work?

What is the competition like?

Finally, can you recommend any books or journals that I should be reading to help me on my way?

Any other advice you might wish to give a newcomer would be gratefully received.

With many thanks.

Kate

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-06-12 11:42]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some answers Jun 12, 2008

So, I have a million questions which I would be very grateful for your response(s)!


Okay, I'll give it a try.

How did you start out? Did you have a specialist audiovisual translation qualification? If you didn't, how did you learn about procedures and technology?


My case is different. I started translating for dubbing in 1987. I had a mentor, who is still a good client of mine ever since. I watched him doing it and, based on his method, I developed mine. It produces excellent results qualitywise, but requires a lot of hard work, so the resulting cost keeps me restricted mostly to corporate/business video.

I began translating for subtitles only in 2004, due to a client having demand for such work into English for technical videos. The tools are similar, but the frame of mind must be different. Thanks to the digital video revolution, I quickly learned to subtitle videos myself, and even to author quite complex, interactive, DVDs.

Most of the technology I learned about subtitling came from http://videohelp.com and experimenting. But that hasn't got much to do with translation itself. There is a good article about the "rules for subtitling", I guess written by someone from Romainia, here on Proz; you shouldn't have difficulty to find it. However don't take these rules as laws carved in stone; when in doubt, advocate for the spectator.

I imagine there are many production companies - big and small, who buy documentaries etc. from Spain and Latin America. Is there a monopoly on this area of production? If so, which companies might you recommend contacting? Can you give any tips?


As video files tend to be quite large, if the client is at all concerned with translation, they'll prefer people located where their disks can get quickly. Right now I'm working on some DVDs that came from the USA (I'm in Brazil). They possibly had bad luck all the way on the mail (e.g. missed planes by minutes etc.) so it took them almost 3 weeks to get here. Meanwhile I drafted the translations from audio files received via web. Sloppy companies might want you to work with audio files only.

So I'd suggest you start looking for clients that are closest to you, geographically, and grow from there.

Do the production companies tend to use in-house or freelance translators? Is it feasible to only offer one language combination?


It's up to their management strategy. I've heard that HBO in Brazil uses in-house translators. They have enough demand (films 24/7 on cable TV, several simultaneous channels) to keep'em busy. Meanwhile a producer, or a film distributor might need translation only now and then, so they'll cut overhead by using freelancers.

It's quite feasible to offer only one language pair. Of course, you'll be busier if you offer more. When the client needs the same film translated into more than one language, it means less work for them dealing with just one vendor.

Could you describe typical procedures? e.g. how work is proposed, whether the translator tends to do the entirety of the work at home or comes in at final editing stage, what software tends to be used etc. Perhaps procedures differ a lot from company to company?


They vary a lot. A video producer will ask me to just translate the subtitles. They'll do the spotting, burning, authoring etc. A corporate end-client will ask me for a finished DVD they can use, often a few hundred copies of it (whose duplication I outsource).

Would you recommend buying any software?


Not initially, maybe never. Two "must have" freewares are:
- Express Scribe from http://www.nch.com.au/scribe
- Subtitle Workshop from http://www.urusoft.net - but use the v2.5 for the time being, not the v4 beta
The rest of it you'll be able to see on the Videohelp site (link above), it will depend on exactly what you intend to do, i.e. how far you will be asked to go beyond translation.

Do people do this type of work full time, or do they inevitably do other types of work?


Some do, others don't. Varies a lot.

What is the competition like?


Fierce. Some clients just want it done, quick and cheap. Others want perfection. In the gray scale between one and the other, you name it.

Finally, can you recommend any books or journals that I should be reading to help me on my way?


None specific. Now and then search the web, and you'll find interesting material.
Regarding corporate video, if your Spanish helps you to understand enough of Brazilian Portuguese, you may read my Guide from http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/jhlvideo.pdf .

Good luck, Kate!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kate Warren  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many, many thanks Jun 12, 2008

Dear Jose

This is a fantastic help - thank you for taking the time for this.

Kate


Direct link Reply with quote
 
S_Angel  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:50
German to Italian
+ ...
Subtitle Workshop Jun 12, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Two "must have" freewares are:
- Express Scribe from http://www.nch.com.au/scribe
- Subtitle Workshop from http://www.urusoft.net - but use the v2.5 for the time being, not the v4 beta
The rest of it you'll be able to see on the Videohelp site (link above), it will depend on exactly what you intend to do, i.e. how far you will be asked to go beyond translation.


I had been told that Subtitle Workshop was a good educational software and was ok for amateurs, but that more professional (and expensive) softwares are actually used in the subtitling industry.
Is your experience different, José? Can a translator actually work just with SW?

Thanks a lot


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Quite honestly... Jun 12, 2008

S_Angel wrote:
I had been told that Subtitle Workshop was a good educational software and was ok for amateurs, but that more professional (and expensive) softwares are actually used in the subtitling industry.
Is your experience different, José? Can a translator actually work just with SW?


... it depends on what comes next. SW will let you split and spot subtitles for a video. Any of those 50+ formats it can create is no more than a pure text file containing:
- the subtitles text and line breaks
- each subtitle's in&out time
... plus - now depending on the file type - a series of parameters such as font, size, color, position, margins etc. as well as some specs for each subtitle... or not!

AFAIK the most data-loaded file type is SSA, for SubStation Alpha. It will allow you to burn directly the subtitles on the video with VirtualDub, with great quality.

The most barebones file type is TXT, for Adobe Encore or Ulead DVD Workshop. In these programs you'll be able to manipulate each subtitle individually, in groups, or wholly.

However for spotting, or translating previous subtitles and respotting the translation where needed, SW does the job. Sometimes I edit the resulting SSA file with Windows Notepad to get some effects I need, such as "lifting" subtitles when there is something written onscreen on the original film (usually the name of the person being shown) where the subtitle will be.

There are some (always large) firms that use their own, proprietary, software. SW is incompatible with most, if not all of them. Consider that such systems are incompatible among themselves as well. For them, SW is "for amateurs only", as they'll obviously only hire translators who work with their specific software.

Subtitle Workshop also has many "automation" features, which I never use. But they might be helpful in some cases, or for some people. I cater mostly to the corporate/business/training video market, people who want quality first, rush happens only now and then. So my work in this is more a craft than what could be called "industrial production".

The bottom line is that like in any other area, you have to use the software that fulfills the need. For instance, I have been doing DTP with PageMaker for 15+ years. Nobody can tell that from the final PDFs I generate. Of course its "son", InDesign, as well as QuarkXpress give more status to the user, but the end result is the same.



[Edited at 2008-06-12 17:11]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
S_Angel  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:50
German to Italian
+ ...
Thanks Jun 13, 2008

Thanks a lot José, that was very interesting!

Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxcarmenzitad
Spanish to English
+ ...
Please answer the question! Aug 26, 2011

Everybody gives their opinion and input but nobody answers the question...
Can somebody help her by guiding her as to where to start or where to go to get started?

Too many comments, not enough help...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
English
+ ...
Where to start... Sep 7, 2011

Most of the UK-based subtitling houses are in London and tend to use freelancers for translation, although there are a small number of in-house posts, usually for PMs.

Most of them use either Swift, WinCAPS, Isis, Spot or Poliscript, all of which are more or less compatible with each other, but sometimes it's less rather than more, so it's best to find out which system the subtitling house uses before investing in your own software. Prices range from around £1,500-£3,500 depending on the system and features you go for. There usually isn't a problem with working for a number of the subtitling houses, but, as I say, not all of the systems are fully compatible with each other, so there are occasional issues.

What tends to happen is that if your application is succcessful, they'll ask you to work on site, at least initially. However, there are a number of degree courses which offer subtitling modules, so every year, there are a number of partially trained subtitlers to contend with - most of whom are willing to take internships for little or no money - so it's hard to compete on those terms. As a result, there tends not to be much by way of support or training on offer for new freelancers.

It's not an easy industry to get into, but if you're successful, it is rewarding and can be fun.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
amansondhi  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 15:20
French to English
+ ...
Lots of information- thanks! Jan 25, 2012

I am just getting started in this area and there is a good amount of information put in here by José....thanks a lot!

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Starting out... a career in Spanish to English translation in the film, TV, DVD production industry

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search