Is Subtitling Really As Fun As It Looks?
Thread poster: Elliefox
Feb 27, 2011

Hi, my name is Elizabeth. I'm new to the forum. *waves*

I'm a recent English graduate, and I'm considering a career in subtitling. I think it's something I would vastly enjoy. But while researching the field, I came across this hilarious article about subtitling.

http://bizcovering.com/business/how-to-get-a-job-subtitling-for-hugh-hefner/

I was just wondering if anyone has any horror stories to tell? Have you ever had to subtitle/translate something that disgusted/scared you or was there a job that you've turned down because it went against your morals/beliefs in any way?

I look forward to hearing your responses!


 

Ramey Rieger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:08
Member (2010)
German to English
Sorry to disappoint you! Feb 28, 2011

Hello Elizabeth,
I haven't any horrors or moral dilemmas to relate from my experience with subtitling. I loved every bit of it. Even the scenes where the commentator in a nature documentary had trouble repressing his hysterical laughter during a mating scene between orang utans. I guess he identified deeply with them - whether with the male or female wasn't clear. We also did some English/English subtitling for classic films with Edward G. Robinson which was loads of fun finding different ways of saying "you dirty rat".
Good luck to you!
Ramey Rieger


 

Michael Lourenço Leite
Brazil
Local time: 09:08
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hello Feb 28, 2011

Elliefox wrote:

Hi, my name is Elizabeth. I'm new to the forum. *waves*

I'm a recent English graduate, and I'm considering a career in subtitling. I think it's something I would vastly enjoy. But while researching the field, I came across this hilarious article about subtitling.

http://bizcovering.com/business/how-to-get-a-job-subtitling-for-hugh-hefner/

I was just wondering if anyone has any horror stories to tell? Have you ever had to subtitle/translate something that disgusted/scared you or was there a job that you've turned down because it went against your morals/beliefs in any way?

I look forward to hearing your responses!




I did not have a good experience with video subtitling. Maybe, if you work with movies or a client who pays a lot, it is worth. It demands a lot of time and the agencies pay little (well, perhaps I was not lucky)

Anyway, if you like, go ahead. But find a good client. =]

Michael


 

Elliefox
TOPIC STARTER
:) Feb 28, 2011

Thanks for your reply, Ramey. That's absolutely hilarious about the orangutans!! I wouldn't mind subtitling something like that if it were funny.icon_wink.gif

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences with video subtitling, Michael. I asked my question because I know someone who did an internship at one company who had to watch a really graphic horror film. She had nightmares for a week and was too scared to walk home in the dark for months afterwards lol.

I also have heard that movie companies tend to pay very little for subtitlingicon_frown.gif


 

imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:08
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No fun, hard job Mar 1, 2011

When you have no idea about subtitling you continuously ask yourself how a translator can make such a poor and sometimes totally disconnected translation when subtitling.

When you start to study it you notice that from English into portuguese, for example, it's very difficult to resumein the same length what is said. Portuguese has much longer words and phrases usually.

On the contrary, from Spanish into Portuguese you have a a lot of space to play with.


 

Sylvano
Local time: 14:08
English to French
Just a fact Mar 1, 2011

I'll just add one thing : subtitling must be the translation speciality where you have the most important turnover. You see young translators trying that every year (and usually giving up two or three years after, some even never seriously start working in the field though they studied it). If I consider my own class of subtitling formation, 10 years ago, I am now the only one who stayed full time in the job. The others all did it for some years and almost all of them do something completely different now. Rates, programs, working conditions, solitude, uncertainty of the job, etc. There must be something disappointing in subtitling for many people.

[Edited at 2011-03-01 15:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-03-01 15:45 GMT]


 

Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:08
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fun maybe, but is it profitable? Varies by country and market. Mar 1, 2011

Translating for subtitles in the U.S., I would earn less than half what I can earn per hour translating business, technical or biomedical texts. So it's just not worth it to take such jobs, much as I enjoy them as a change of pace.

[Edited at 2011-03-02 09:26 GMT]


 

Melina Kajander
Finland
English to Finnish
+ ...
Fun, but not that profitable Mar 2, 2011

Elliefox wrote:
I asked my question because I know someone who did an internship at one company who had to watch a really graphic horror film. She had nightmares for a week and was too scared to walk home in the dark for months afterwards lol.


Oh yeah, I used to work with subtitling (subtitle translation) for years and do have some similar experiences icon_smile.gif
I remember one particularly scary thriller where I had problems watching it, but of course I had to... And some episodes of "Criminal Minds", uhh, there's a few that still make me cringe (and even see nightmares) if I think of them...

And on the other hand, some episodes of a series about cosmetic surgery ("Nip & Tuck") I turned down because I was so disgusted with the contents...

Yes, it is so true that the agency rates are low; but I used to think subtitle translation was so much fun (well, mostly!) that it made up for it... Not anymore. Now I'm currently not working (extended maternity leave), but I don't think I'll return to subtitling...


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:08
English
+ ...
Yes and no Apr 3, 2011

Sometimes, it's a fantastic job. You have great fun and work on some really interesting programmes. There are some amazing dramas which are well written and in which the acting is superb, exciting documentaries and brilliant films which are a joy to work on.
Other times, it's awful. You end up working on stuff that's so mind-numbingly boring it's like watching paint dry. Sometimes, you have to deal with really harrowing topics that make you want to cry or things that make you feel sick or angry. You have to work on programmes that set your teeth on edge and which, given a choice, you wouldn't watch in a million years, but you've got to spend hours working on them and pay close attention throughout.
It can be pretty stressful as the deadlines tend to be very tight, and it can be relentless. You have very little say over what you work on. You get what you're given, and that's that, although some PMs do tend to try to give you some variety, but you've got to take the bad with the good.
When I first started, it was well paid, but rates have fallen by 50% over the last ten years, not accounting for inflation, so in real terms, they've dropped significantly more. Saying that, I'm still doing the job after nearly 20 years, so there must be some plus points!


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 14:08
Swedish to English
Subtitling Apr 3, 2011

Shouldn't it be: Is Subtitling Really as Fun as it Looks.

Subtitles can be irritating, amusing, and sometimes annoying. But they certainly catch the eye.
I remember crackers (Christmas time) being translated into Swedish as if they were fireworks!


 

Cécile Sellier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:08
English to French
+ ...
Would love to subtitle horror movies!! Apr 3, 2011

Hi all!

Some of your comments made me smile - the ones about people being scared by what they were working on... I'd never thought about that!

I've been subtitling a few videos myself, but not movies or tv programmes (yet), more marketing/advertising material - including the most boring thing ever: a 1-hour video about carp-fishing equipment and technique (the problem is, I have never been fishing and know nothing about it - at least I knew nothing then, I'm practically an expert now!!).

But I'd like to subtitle films or tv series, and I certainly wouldn't mind something like Saw or, even better, Dexter (I'm a big fan)!!

Anyway, thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiencesicon_smile.gif

Cécile


 

Francisca Bittner
Chile
English to Spanish
My experience... Apr 4, 2011

Elliefox wrote:

Hi, my name is Elizabeth. I'm new to the forum. *waves*

I'm a recent English graduate, and I'm considering a career in subtitling. I think it's something I would vastly enjoy. But while researching the field, I came across this hilarious article about subtitling.

http://bizcovering.com/business/how-to-get-a-job-subtitling-for-hugh-hefner/

I was just wondering if anyone has any horror stories to tell? Have you ever had to subtitle/translate something that disgusted/scared you or was there a job that you've turned down because it went against your morals/beliefs in any way?

I look forward to hearing your responses!




Well, my first experience on subtitling was at university when I studied Translation. I had to subtitle and translate a cartoon film called 'Shark Tale'... and it was very funny!

Last year a subtitled a documentary, but it was a gift to myself... LOL... anyway, it was very very interesting! It was about alternative ways of thinking in Islam and interviewees pronounced some Islamic words in Arab, so I could learn a little bit from it! icon_smile.gif

As you can notice, I did not see any money, but I enjoyed it at least!

[Edited at 2011-04-05 13:13 GMT]


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:08
English
+ ...
I've worked on something like that too. Apr 6, 2011

Cécile Sellier wrote:

Hi all!

Some of your comments made me smile - the ones about people being scared by what they were working on... I'd never thought about that!

I've been subtitling a few videos myself, but not movies or tv programmes (yet), more marketing/advertising material - including the most boring thing ever: a 1-hour video about carp-fishing equipment and technique (the problem is, I have never been fishing and know nothing about it - at least I knew nothing then, I'm practically an expert now!!).

But I'd like to subtitle films or tv series, and I certainly wouldn't mind something like Saw or, even better, Dexter (I'm a big fan)!!

Anyway, thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiencesicon_smile.gif

Cécile


I did 2x 180 minute programmes on carp fishing techniques, equipment and materials. I know what you mean about going from knowing nothing to being an expert!

Mind you, the general knowledge gained through the job does come in handy in pub quizzes!


 


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