ANOTHER question about subtitling rates....
Thread poster: MK2010

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:38
French to English
+ ...
Sep 29, 2010

Hello all,

I just landed my first subtitling gig, doing the French subtitles for an award winning documentary (Sundance, Berlin, many more). Since this is my first time, and I am lucky enough to break into this field with such a prestige project, I quoted 5 USD / min so 450 USD for the whole project.

It doesn't require special software, they just send me a PDF document with the text and the subtitles broken down by number, and then I type my translation into a MS word document, such as:

* 1 : 00:01:06:07 00:01:07:13 18c
Salut les gars!


After reading threads here and doing a lot of googling, I find that the going rates remain an absolute total mystery. The union in France recommends 3,90€ per subtitle (just the translation, not the cueing). That would be 3900 euros for a 1000 subtitle project !!!!!

Does anybody actually make that kind of money?

They are going to give me another documentary, another really "prestigious" project, and I would like to up my price in a way that's fair to both of us. This is small distributor, so they don't have tons of money, but on the other hand my rate is way too low I think (it ends up being about 0.56 dollars per subtitle) and I am in a very precarious financial situation at the moment.

Any advice on what to charge? 1000 euros for the next project? Less, more?

Thanks!


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:38
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
At least double it Sep 29, 2010

If you have the script and just translate you can easily calculate the amount of text. Then you can apply a rate for normal translation. Usually the translation is rather easy, but keeping it in the limits is sometimes not easy. So you need more time then for normal text. On the other hand movies are more interesting, and at the end your name is displayed.
I charge 1 Euro per text frame, or my normal rate according to the number of characters. I don't believe anybody gets paid 3,90 Euro, but who knows?

Regards
Heinrich


 

SMcG (X)
Belgium
Local time: 00:38
French to English
Way too low... Sep 29, 2010

Way too low... Considering subtiting is not just straight translating with the reading speed and maximim character per line to take into account etc.

But then again if you consider the purpose of the job is to bolster your CV, then why not?

JFYI: I charge 1 euro per subtitle using a simple formula: an English subtitle normally has an average of 7 words, total number of spoken words / 7 = number of subtitles.

This includes spotting and I work sometime in the post-prod houses on the exports.

So I would consider myself *cough* "cheap".

Best of luck with it!

S


 

Sylvano
Local time: 00:38
English to French
The more prestigious the movie, the less you get paid? Sep 29, 2010

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
I don't believe anybody gets paid 3,90 Euro, but who knows?


Well, yes (again) : some people do get 3,90 euros per subtitle on movies for theatrical release. They're not that many, I agree, and they probably all live and work in France, but between 5 dollars per minute and 3.90 euros per subtitle, there's a HUGE margin. It's all very fancy to do Sundance stuff and everything, but don't you think that especially should be paid a lot more provided, I suppose, the quality expected and the potential audience it may get. And I don't buy the 'small distributor' factor. You have the money to do things right or you don't do them at all (and paying a translator at a decent rate is peanuts in an overall production budget). You don't know the money they really make, and anyway it's not your problem. As far as you're concerned, you have to get paid for the work you do.


 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:38
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's what I thought.... Sep 29, 2010

Thanks guys. Still curious about that 3,9 EUROS / subtitle rate though. That would be sweet!

 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:38
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree Sep 29, 2010

Sylvano wrote:

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
I don't believe anybody gets paid 3,90 Euro, but who knows?


Well, yes (again) : some people do get 3,90 euros per subtitle on movies for theatrical release. They're not that many, I agree, and they probably all live and work in France, but between 5 dollars per minute and 3.90 euros per subtitle, there's a HUGE margin. It's all very fancy to do Sundance stuff and everything, but don't you think that especially should be paid a lot more provided, I suppose, the quality expected and the potential audience it may get. And I don't buy the 'small distributor' factor. You have the money to do things right or you don't do them at all (and paying a translator at a decent rate is peanuts in an overall production budget). You don't know the money they really make, and anyway it's not your problem. As far as you're concerned, you have to get paid for the work you do.


I totally agree, which is why I'm going to go much higher for the next project they give me. I think if I charge 1000 euros for a feature length doc (scheduled for theatrical release I assume), that should be fair to both of us. Still way under the 3,9 EUROS / st, but way more than the 450 USD I asked for on the first project. Thanks for the input.


 

Cris_Pinheiro  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
rates Oct 10, 2010

I sometimes do wonder about these "guidelines". I know ideally we should strive for them, but it's virtually impossible. Nowadays, there are som many intermediaries, you wouldn't believe how much you get paid here, in Portugal, WITH the cueing... It's plain pathetic, no other word for it...

 

Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Depends on your view point Oct 10, 2010

Cris_Pinheiro wrote:
... It's plain pathetic, no other word for it...
Try to outsource something yourself and you will see the REAL costs of 98% of the cheap work.. icon_rolleyes.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I wouldn't expect these subs to win any awards, though Oct 10, 2010

Maybe it's because I spent 18 years translating for lip-sync dubbing before I ventured into subtitling, I believe that watching the video is essential, otherwise sloppy work will be unavoidable. ... unless they are fond of rework, so an equally skilled translator will check your translated subs, to fix them as needed.

One key to successful video translation is to capture the rhythm. In subbing, when the action gets faster, concise must get extra-concise, so the spectator will have more time left after reading to watch that part of the action s/he is entitled to.

If they just want you to translate the text in the subs, as the client should always be supposed to be right, by all means do it! As text, your per-word rate should fit. If they want to pay you per sub, fine! Get an adequate sample, count the words, apply your per-word rate, and divide that amount by the number of subs. That should give you an approximate per-sub rate.


 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:38
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Well, I finished the job Oct 10, 2010

There were 1260 subs. At the current exchange rate, 450 USD is around 323 EUROS, which obviously is just ridiculous. That's less than what would be spent on coffee and muffins on a single day on set, or on stamps for invitations to the opening, or what not. If I saw that in a post-production budget, I would probably think it was a typo.

Anyway, if they like my work, which I invoiced at an "introductory rate", I will renegotiate the next time around. My offer will be:

1000 EUROS net fee OR 1 EURO / SUB, whichever is higher. In other words, never do a feature for less than 1000 euros.

That's still very far away from the +/- $ 4000 EUROS/ film recommended by the union in France, so hopefully that will be acceptable to them. Basically what I charged them was less than 1 / 10th of the union rate, it came out to 0.25 euros / ST.


 


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