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Subtitling software - suggestions needed
Thread poster: FedericaPalm

FedericaPalm
Belgium
Local time: 02:53
French to Italian
+ ...
Aug 24, 2011

Hello
I need to find a subtitling software that allows me to create EBU files.
can you help me?? it's quite urgent!!!!
thank you!


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Google found it Aug 24, 2011

I've never used this one:
http://www.eztitles.com/
... but they say it does the job.


 

Ana Rita Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:53
English to Portuguese
Not cheap Aug 24, 2011

You need a professional subtitling software, like EZTitles (yes, it does the job) or Spot. And they are not cheap.

My advice: if it's for an occasional work and it has to be done urgently, don't take the job. You'll need time to adjust to the software and you need a frequent amount of projects for the software to pay for itself.

On the other hand, if you are serious about subtitling for TV clients, which use mostly EBU stl or PAC files, that can't be produced by free software, you may consider it an investment. My software is most certainly paid for now.


Best of luck.


 

Ioana Costache  Identity Verified
Romania
Member (2007)
English to Romanian
FAB Aug 24, 2011

I use FAB subtitler, which handles EBU files with no problems: http://www.fab-online.com/eng/subtitling/production/dvd.htm

See if the discussion here helps: http://www.proz.com/forum/subtitling/105758-ebu_format_not_compatible_with_subtitle_workshop.html

Regardsicon_smile.gif


 

Just Opera
Belgium
Local time: 02:53
French to English
+ ...
Belle Nuit Aug 24, 2011

http://www.belle-nuit.com/subtitler/htmlfiles/e/exporttool.html

EBU (STL binary)

You can export an EBU for exchange with a broadcast station or with a subtitle lab. Style information is not retained.

Note: EBU files have the file extension .stl but you should not mix them up with the STL files for DVD Studio Pro, which are text files.

Note: The EBU character table has been completed, so that now also Eastern European charactersets can be exported or imported.


 

FedericaPalm
Belgium
Local time: 02:53
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
very different from subtitle workshop? Aug 24, 2011

Thanks Ana Rita!

I have always worked with Subtitle Workshop, is EZTitles very different from SW?

I understand what you mean, I'm not even sure I will get the job! And if it takes time to adjust to the software...maybe it's impossible to get THIS job, but it could be a good investment...
Anyway thank you very much!


 

Ion Zubizarreta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:53
Member (2011)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two of the main ones Sep 16, 2011

Two of the most widely used professional subtitling programs are Wincaps and Swift Create, they both cost between £1000 to £1500. If you're thinking of specializing in this area of translation, it would probably be a good inversion to get either of them.

Regards.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What's so professional about them? Sep 16, 2011

Ion Zubizarreta wrote:
Two of the most widely used professional subtitling programs are Wincaps and Swift Create, they both cost between £1000 to £1500. If you're thinking of specializing in this area of translation, it would probably be a good inversion to get either of them.


I understand that there is professional DTP software (PageMaker, InDesign, Quark, FrameMaker) and amateur DTP software (MS Publisher, PagePlus, Scribus) because of the limitations imposed by the latter group, where too many things simply canNOT be done.

However subtitles are plain text. There is professionalism in the professional who translates what is spoken into concise and accurate subtitles. There is professionalism in the professional who breaks them into chunks adequate to the rhythm of the video and makes them go on and off at the right times.

However as perfect subtitles file may be built using the simplest word processor, Windows Notepad is sufficient. It will possibly take much more effort, yet if the subtitling process is professional, the outcome will be exactly the same.

So, apart from the user's comfort, I wonder how the output from these programs can be any more 'professional' than what a thoroughly professional and competent subtitler would get from, say, Subtitle Workshop or Media Subtitler, both freeware.

Of course, what is done afterwards with this plain text file has countless shades of professionalism, especially in software; the human professionalism steps down to second place in priority.


 

Ion Zubizarreta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:53
Member (2011)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Call them as you like Sep 16, 2011

I do not doubt of the professionalism of the subtitlers who use freeware subtitling software, and I'm not in the least interested in arguing about whether software like Wincaps is more" professional" than, for example, Subtitle Workshop. As far as I now, most subtitling companies work with "professional" subtitling software such as Wincaps or Swift Create, and as a subtitler, in my opinion, you're more likely to work for them if you use these same programs which will produce files that are 100% compatible with the files used by these companies.
I hope I've been of some help (that's all I was trying to be.)


[Edited at 2011-09-17 00:19 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I guess you answered my question, Ion Sep 17, 2011

We are in agreement then. The reason they call these software packages "professional" is to justify their price, and the fact that they probably generate exclusive file formats (though it wouldn't be impossible to devise a converter).

The whole issue then becomes getting enough demand from companies that use these proprietary formats to recoup the investment.

In my case, either clients are either video producers, who want only the translation in TXT or DOC to use in Adobe Première, or end-clients whose core business is not video, so the entire subtitling & authoring is my problem; they want a finished DVD.


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
English
+ ...
Horses for courses Sep 18, 2011

Yes, subtitle files are just glorified text files, and it's possible to create them using notepad or any other text editor, but if an individual wants to work as a subtitler within the broadcast or mainstream DVD production industries, they need to use software which can produce files that are compatible with the systems used in the industry.

It's all well and good to say it's possible to complete the whole process using freeware, but the market for that type of service is very limited, and it's almost impossible to earn a living working exclusively like that, so most people who subtitle in that way need other sources of income. It's hard enough to make a living even if you can work for the mainstream producers.

The fact that someone has invested in professional software doesn't mean that they are any less dedicated or hard-working than the person who uses a cheaper package with fewer features. It just means that they're willing to invest in software which will give them access to a wider range of clients and potentially more variety of work. There's a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from going to a cinema or buying a DVD and thinking, "I did that."


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
That's what puzzles me Sep 18, 2011

Maybe my learned colleagues could explain to me...

kmtext wrote:
Yes, subtitle files are just glorified text files, and it's possible to create them using notepad or any other text editor, but if an individual wants to work as a subtitler within the broadcast or mainstream DVD production industries, they need to use software which can produce files that are compatible with the systems used in the industry.


In what way could these professional software packages further glorify those text files?

I worked recently for one acclaimed DVD production firm, not precisely in Hollywood, yet just a few miles away. They sent me, and requested back MS Word *.doc files (as well as the videos, of course)! As stated, they have their own technology to bridge their system to these files, and prefer that translators work using MS Word.

Local video producers (I mean, in Brazil) ask me to translate video and deliver the subtitles in *.doc files as well. They have their own staff to do the spotting and take it from there to the finished product.

Non-video companies, i.e. direct clients in other industries, want the subtitled video ready to put on their web site, Intranet, or YouTube, or they want a finished DVD. I take great care to make my subtitles better in appearance, sharpness, and readability than 98% of what I see on TV. After having ried various commercial software packages to burn subtitles, I still get the best results from the free VirtualDub. For overlaid subtitles on DVD, of course, I use professional authoring programs; AFAIK no freeware offers acceptable results here.

kmtext wrote:
It's all well and good to say it's possible to complete the whole process using freeware, but the market for that type of service is very limited, and it's almost impossible to earn a living working exclusively like that, so most people who subtitle in that way need other sources of income. It's hard enough to make a living even if you can work for the mainstream producers.


That's the core of my question. Obviously each country has its practices. Here in Brazil, producers just want the translation from me. From spotting on, they prefer to use the staff they already have on their payroll. As I said, they request MS Word files. I've asked them, and even those who use Adobe Premiere don't want the corresponding TXT file, even with all-zero spotting. Client is king: if they want DOCs, that's what they get.

Distributors/TV stations tend to pay a fraction of my normal rate, the latter being the values suggested by the Brazilian translators' syndicate, so I never bothered to ask them what kind of file they want.

Therefore I'm having a hard time to assemble the cost/benefit equation on investing in such professional subtitling software.

kmtext wrote:
The fact that someone has invested in professional software doesn't mean that they are any less dedicated or hard-working than the person who uses a cheaper package with fewer features. It just means that they're willing to invest in software which will give them access to a wider range of clients and potentially more variety of work. There's a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from going to a cinema or buying a DVD and thinking, "I did that."


I'd be willing to invest in software that paid for itself, any time I could find one. I definitely use professional software for video editing and DVD authoring, because no freeware does it with acceptable quality. Yet all self-claiming professional subtitles translating and spotting software I've tested just had some automated features to replace what I consider my 'art' in subtitling. And yet they must be slow... as many clients get impressed from my short turnaround and quality.

So it puzzles me when I see these unusually expensive 'professional' software packages being required to do something I've been doing so well without them. It sounds to me as if a plastic (not gold-plated) self-claimed professional cigarette lighter sold for, say, USD 300, when matches would do the job perfectly. Therefore, in spite of the tests I've done with some of these programs, I wonder if I'm missing anything here.


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
English
+ ...
The client is king Sep 19, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Maybe my learned colleagues could explain to me...

kmtext wrote:
Yes, subtitle files are just glorified text files, and it's possible to create them using notepad or any other text editor, but if an individual wants to work as a subtitler within the broadcast or mainstream DVD production industries, they need to use software which can produce files that are compatible with the systems used in the industry.


In what way could these professional software packages further glorify those text files?


In this sense, "glorified" means to add additional features, in this case information about positioning, text colour, alignment and so on.

I worked recently for one acclaimed DVD production firm, not precisely in Hollywood, yet just a few miles away. They sent me, and requested back MS Word *.doc files (as well as the videos, of course)! As stated, they have their own technology to bridge their system to these files, and prefer that translators work using MS Word.

Local video producers (I mean, in Brazil) ask me to translate video and deliver the subtitles in *.doc files as well. They have their own staff to do the spotting and take it from there to the finished product.


If your clients wish to pay two people to do one person's job, that's up to them. Most companies prefer not to do that though, unless there is no other option. Some of my clients do use that system occasionally with translation templates when there is no translator for a particular language pair who can work on site or has their own subtitling software, but it's much easier and more cost-effective if it's done using one of the subtitling packages.

Non-video companies, i.e. direct clients in other industries, want the subtitled video ready to put on their web site, Intranet, or YouTube, or they want a finished DVD. I take great care to make my subtitles better in appearance, sharpness, and readability than 98% of what I see on TV. After having ried various commercial software packages to burn subtitles, I still get the best results from the free VirtualDub. For overlaid subtitles on DVD, of course, I use professional authoring programs; AFAIK no freeware offers acceptable results here.

kmtext wrote:
It's all well and good to say it's possible to complete the whole process using freeware, but the market for that type of service is very limited, and it's almost impossible to earn a living working exclusively like that, so most people who subtitle in that way need other sources of income. It's hard enough to make a living even if you can work for the mainstream producers.


That's the core of my question. Obviously each country has its practices. Here in Brazil, producers just want the translation from me. From spotting on, they prefer to use the staff they already have on their payroll. As I said, they request MS Word files. I've asked them, and even those who use Adobe Premiere don't want the corresponding TXT file, even with all-zero spotting. Client is king: if they want DOCs, that's what they get.

Distributors/TV stations tend to pay a fraction of my normal rate, the latter being the values suggested by the Brazilian translators' syndicate, so I never bothered to ask them what kind of file they want.

Therefore I'm having a hard time to assemble the cost/benefit equation on investing in such professional subtitling software.

kmtext wrote:
The fact that someone has invested in professional software doesn't mean that they are any less dedicated or hard-working than the person who uses a cheaper package with fewer features. It just means that they're willing to invest in software which will give them access to a wider range of clients and potentially more variety of work. There's a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from going to a cinema or buying a DVD and thinking, "I did that."


I'd be willing to invest in software that paid for itself, any time I could find one. I definitely use professional software for video editing and DVD authoring, because no freeware does it with acceptable quality. Yet all self-claiming professional subtitles translating and spotting software I've tested just had some automated features to replace what I consider my 'art' in subtitling. And yet they must be slow... as many clients get impressed from my short turnaround and quality.

So it puzzles me when I see these unusually expensive 'professional' software packages being required to do something I've been doing so well without them. It sounds to me as if a plastic (not gold-plated) self-claimed professional cigarette lighter sold for, say, USD 300, when matches would do the job perfectly. Therefore, in spite of the tests I've done with some of these programs, I wonder if I'm missing anything here.





To extrapolate from your own analogy, why use a computer if you can type everything up on A4 sheets and post it in to your client?

The main reason for using these expensive packages is that they do the job properly and produce industry-standard files which the client can, in most cases, use immediately without any further amendment or conversion. As you said yourself, you can produce .txt and .doc files, which then have to be converted or copied and pasted by someone else into a format your client can use, which costs them time and money.

They're called professional packages because they are designed for use by professionals in the industry. Saying that, just because someone has bought one of these packages doesn't make them a professional, any more than not using one makes someone unprofessional. As you say, the professionalism is in the art, not the technical aspects of the job, which is something we agree on.

I've worked in the industry for just under 20 years, using various software packages in that time. None of them have been perfect, but the latest ones are all superior to the old system we used when I first started out and that was definitely superior to typing everything out longhand, and also less error-prone.

The main reason they are so expensive is that, rather than being one piece of software, they are bundles of different packages which makes them more versatile in terms of what they can do, but many of the components of the packages are licensed from other manufacturers. Another thing which adds to the expense is the ability to export in numerous file formats. It's not an ideal situation, but it's one I can live with, as my initial investment was repaid within six months of starting out as a freelancer, and seven years, and a few updates later, I'm still in profit. If I wasn't using one of the professional packages, I'd have had to find another job long ago.


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
English
+ ...
Thinking about it... Sep 19, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf's comment about the lighter and the match is not too far off the mark. The professional subtitling packages are very expensive, but, going back to his analogy, given a choice between the expensive lighter that could burn anything or matches that would only light certain brands of cigarette or set fire to specific types of paper, I'd say the expensive lighter would be more useful in the long run.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A chance for learning... I'm in! Sep 19, 2011

kmtext wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
In what way could these professional software packages further glorify those text files?

In this sense, "glorified" means to add additional features, in this case information about positioning, text colour, alignment and so on.


Fine! That would be covered by the SSA format. SubStation Alpha - which I tried, but chose not to use - is also freeware. To burn subs onto the video, VirtualDub's Subtitler plugin (by its original author) will execute all these features to the dot.

Surprisingly, Adobe Premiere and other professional software don't want any of that. They use TXT, with only has times & subs. All the formatting is done in the high-end editing/authoring software.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
... one acclaimed DVD production firm, ... sent me, and requested back MS Word *.doc files! As stated, they have their own technology to bridge their system to these files, and prefer that translators work using MS Word.

... video producers ... in Brazil ask me to translate video and deliver the subtitles in *.doc files as well. They have their own staff to do the spotting and take it from there to the finished product.


kmtext wrote:
If your clients wish to pay two people to do one person's job, that's up to them. Most companies prefer not to do that though, unless there is no other option. Some of my clients do use that system occasionally with translation templates when there is no translator for a particular language pair who can work on site or has their own subtitling software, but it's much easier and more cost-effective if it's done using one of the subtitling packages.


The L.A. DVD producer has developed in-house their own software to sync the video with DOC files for transcribers, and to import translators' output on such DOC files into their authoring system. I was even given their subtitles QC player program to check my deliverables.

Regarding the Brazilians, of course I won't do spotting for free. As they already have a salaried employee capable of doing it (and other things as well, I hope), why not?

kmtext wrote:
To extrapolate from your own analogy, why use a computer if you can type everything up on A4 sheets and post it in to your client?


Because that's not what (my) clients ask for. As both of us said, The client is king. If they want DOC files, that's what they get. If they want subtitled DVDs, the same applies, or anything in-between.

kmtext wrote:
The main reason for using these expensive packages is that they do the job properly and produce industry-standard files which the client can, in most cases, use immediately without any further amendment or conversion. As you said yourself, you can produce .txt and .doc files, which then have to be converted or copied and pasted by someone else into a format your client can use, which costs them time and money.


This is what I'd like to find out about.

What are industry-standard files? Subtitle Workshop offers 50+ file formats, and still leaves out the two professional programs' mentioned here, as well as that producer's DOC, and possibly others. So what would these be?

I think that doing the job properly is getting the desired results (in this case, subtitles) as efficiently and economically as possible. I have done it hundreds of times using SSA files. If the client wants compliance to a certain file format because their brother in law makes a living from selling the only software that makes it, that's a compliance issue. It's just as good as translation outsourcers who demand Trados for handwritten or audio-only originals.

To add weight to my argument, I have clients paying my full price to cover the whole nine yards in translation and subtitling. On the other hand, I see companies offering something between 1/5 and 1/3 of my usual rate, and demanding that I own very expensive software to do it the way they want. So the cost/benefit is hard to figure.

kmtext wrote:
They're called professional packages because they are designed for use by professionals in the industry. Saying that, just because someone has bought one of these packages doesn't make them a professional, any more than not using one makes someone unprofessional. As you say, the professionalism is in the art, not the technical aspects of the job, which is something we agree on.


The target in subtitling is the spectator. Our mission is to have them enjoy as much of a video as possible in spite of not knowing the language spoken there. Cost effectiveness is indeed an issue, so that spectator can afford more subtitled films. Technical quality (viz. readability, stability, timeliness = sync) is a must, otherwise the main goal won't be met.

As we agree that merely buying this professional software won't make John Doe a subtitling pro, it's safe to assume that the craft here takes precedence over IT resources.

kmtext wrote:
The main reason they are so expensive is that, rather than being one piece of software, they are bundles of different packages which makes them more versatile in terms of what they can do, but many of the components of the packages are licensed from other manufacturers. Another thing which adds to the expense is the ability to export in numerous file formats. It's not an ideal situation, but it's one I can live with, as my initial investment was repaid within six months of starting out as a freelancer, and seven years, and a few updates later, I'm still in profit. If I wasn't using one of the professional packages, I'd have had to find another job long ago.


Now you've made your point. You found one (or a few) clients who offered decent rates and demanded that specific software. I didn't. My clients who pay decent rates couldn't care less about what I use to do it, as long as they get flawlessly translated and subtitled videos. So I fail to see any industry standard other than quality. Speed/efficiency is my concern, however I'm quite happy with what I'm getting.

Now and then I see translators starting out in subtitling, and they ask... "Acme Video Inc. is offering me the possibility of translating a few videos, however they say that I must use the XXX Superduper Subtitling software which has a 4-digit price tag attached. Is there any other way?" When the answer is NO, they might buy it, and end up translating one video for a despicably low rate, and get stuck with that software for life.

Considering the quantity of videos I've translated so far, it would have been worth investing what it takes into such software if... and only if... it contributed to my output in any other way than mere compliance to some (often low-paying) specific clients' required file format. Yet I don't see that happening here. Anyway, I agree that your mileage may vary.


 
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