How did you ventured into Subtitling
Thread poster: Anna Fangrath

Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
Jan 27, 2009 none seems to have attended a training course for subtitling (my first post)
I'd like to ask the subtitlers amoung you who make money with it, how did you actually vetured to this field?

From all that I read, clients want real credentials and experience,
samples, contacts.

I can teach myself many things but I don't have experience and contacts

So how do I start? I really want to work with subtitles and feel that i can be good at it

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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
French to Spanish
+ ...
My story. Jan 27, 2009

1.- Yes, I attended one translation training for subtitling with the client who hired me, for his subtitling software. (No dialogue list, no nothing: everything by ear. Very difficult but, after that, you can translate anything).
2.- Once more, you want to translate for subtitling, not to be a subtitler. Two very different things. The subtitling process is highly technical (DVD, 35 mm., Betacam, whatever...)
3.- Translation for subtitling is highly specific too: number of caracters, rythm, shot changes, and, best of all, a need to "adapt and resume" the dialogues because the lack of time. This is the only translation job in witch you MUST NOT translate everything!
4.- Advice, then: (00:00:00:000 are Time In and Time Out time codes)

00:00:00:000 - Knock, knock. 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - Who is it? 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - I want to subtitle. 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - Nothing here for you...
we only need translators FOR sutbitling. 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - Right... errr... 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - What? 00:00:00:000
00:00:00:000 - I would like to learn. 00:00:00:000

If there's any vacancy, they'll train you... if you're good and willing to learn as you state, you'll have a chance.

Good luck.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I probably used the back door Jan 27, 2009

Back in 1987 I had already been translating and doing DTP for a training video distributor in Brazil. I often saw the owner/founder translating videos for dubbing. Those were the early years of VHS, 16mm films were quickly dropping into oblivion. Nevertheless, they already had their own dubbing studio, as tape was not as lab-intensive as film; no processing required.

One day I was watching him translating a video, and he asked me: Wanna give it a try? He briefly showed me how he did it, with the audio previously transferred to a palm-sized (audio) cassette recorder, and explained the concept of 'metrics' in dubbing. So he gave me a tape to take home.

I tried first with a cassette recorder. I didn't get along with the delays in starting and stopping. So I moved to a Philips open-reel tape recorder I had, which offered instantaneus start & stop, and did it. That film is still being used in training.

An employee in their studio told me You must be some genius. The man tried a few dozen translators in a row, paid all them, but then burned the midnight oil fixing those translations all over. He checked yours, sent it exactly as it was for dubbing, and it came out as good as if he had done it himself.

The rest is history. My mentor had a company to run, so for the next 20+ years I translated a few hundred videos for them, and eventually got other clients on the way as well. Training videos, due to their long life, require Disney-like (top!!!) quality. But I never worked for Disney, it's another niche.

So I bought a more rugged Akai open-reel tape recorder to do it. The Philips was too delicate, it wouldn't last. It provided me with 10 years of good services, and is still here, in mint condition. Later I bought another Akai, with electric control, more comfortable, but I eventually sold it to a collector, when I moved to digital audio, using Express Scribe.

Nevertheless, my labor-intensive self-developed "method" was too expensive for regular movies and TV. I translated some 10 or 20 full-feature movies, usually when a dubbing studio wanted to show off their superior skill to a distributor or broadcasting station, get the contract, and then move to cheaper and faster translators.

All these years, until 2004, I avoided translating for subtitles. I had some contempt for what I thought was to "jettison 40% of the content" so people would have time to read the subs. Over time, while watching subbed movies on TV in languages I don't or barely understand, I realized it was some kind of 'helping hand' to watch a film in a foreign language.

One day a studio I had worked for needed translation for subtitling a technical video into English, and I was their only option. So I did it, and it didn't come out that bad. So I began watching more closely the subtitling technique on cable TV, and got the idea. In no time I had adapted my technique for subtitles.

This took place simultaneously with the digital video/DVD (r)evolution. By reading a lot on , I quickly learned how it was done, the software involved, and had my first try. To make a long story short, my fourth attempt at subtitling came out great, professional-looking, even on a 40" screen.

Later I learned about DVD authoring. It took me a great effort to find out how it is possible to get the same level of interactivity of a VCD (lousy image) on a DVD. This led me to author quite complex interactive DVDs. You know, training videos on VHS always had those screens with "Stop tape here and discuss". On a DVD player, one wrong keypress on the remote control may totally prevent the user from getting back to that point within reasonable time. So I learned to make it stop automatically, go to menus, and so on.

Lately, with the so-said impending economic crisis, the demand for subtitling (1/3 of the total cost of dubbing the same film) has grown significantly. I haven't been asked to translate a video for dubbing for maybe 2 years now; everybody wants subtitling. So that's the way to go.

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simona dachille  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:04
Italian to English
my experience Jan 27, 2009

The easiest way to do it is to find a subtitle company and do some in house work experience with them so you can see how it works. Most companies use their own programmes so you can learn to use those then probably they will give you a lighter version to work with at home, unless you want to go to the office to work. This is how I started out and after one year in house I now work from home. My client list expanded over a few years. Good luck.
ps: city university in london do run a specific course "subtitling for translators"

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Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
... Jan 27, 2009

First of all, I would thank you all three of you for your responding,
you have given me a lot of input, thank you!!!

Jose, your example was great, at least I know about time in/time out codes and translationg FOR subtitling,
I wouldn't mind to learn the technical work but may be that's to much to start with.

Actually, that is how I got interested in subtitling - by watching and listening.
My first English lessons were by reading sutitles of Black Adder (with Rowan Atkinson) which were excellen btw.

Later on, up till now, I always paid attention to voice over/subtitles. By now, I know some good subtitles by heart, I just copied them to my hard drive:) (brain) as a good/bad translation.

Jose Henrique,
you MUST be a genius, it seems you have a great feeling for the language and audience, I will certainly re-read your posting so I dont miss anything!

I am so greatful to you for the suggestion of University of London Courses.
I just looked them up. They offer a lot, it might be what I am looking for.
I can't really go and work In-House for a whole year somewhere else or even 3 months in a row, I would love to...but I have some work to do here, at home.
That is why a course seems to be perfect.

Here, in Europe, most of the clients want to see a certificate before they hire you and all kind of credentials, that's my impression
I will certainly look into applying at London University for the Subtitling Course

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