Advice about subtitling needed.
Thread poster: Colin Parker

Colin Parker  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:19
Russian to English
+ ...
Nov 2, 2011

Hello.

I have been offered a subtitling job (my first).

I am not using any software, just Word, and I have been asked to add timecodes.

My problem is I'm not sure I'm not sure how to divide the text up (how often to put timecodes).

What exactly does 'one subtitle' mean? (I am being paid per subtitle) Is it just the text that is seen on the screen at any one time? Is there a standard number of words/characters per subtitle?

In short, any advice would be welcome.

Thanks.


 

lim0nka  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:19
Member (2004)
English to Polish
here is my advice for you Nov 2, 2011

Find someone who could time-cue your translated text or tell your client that you won't do the job. You cannot add timecodes in a Word file, without any professional software.

Anetta


 

Mark Thompson  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:19
Member
Portuguese to English
Depends on the client Nov 2, 2011

Colin,

I did my first subtitling jon in Word only as well, and the client wanted timecodes inserted, which I did manually from the timer on the audio file, breaking it up into what I thought would be logical sections of speech, and what would fit on a screen without obscuring too much of the image. The client was happy with this.

I guess you'd need to find out exactly how your client wants to proceed and get detailed instructions from them.

Most of my subtitling clients now provide timecodes in an Excel spreadsheet or using other software.

Good luck!


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:19
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Exactly Nov 3, 2011

Colin Parker wrote:

the text that is seen on the screen at any one time


Standard number of characters (not words) depends on the client's software. Ask them. Also, how many lines the screen admits (a good number to stop at is 2). It's all an exercise in reductive thinking, so the words don't really matter.

I've never been asked for time codes and have been paid per minute of film, but I did try to do subtitling on my own. It's the nasty part, and the optimum results you'll get would be with some kind of software. Best consult this.

(AFAIK, the most universal format for subtitling is still *.txt).


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:19
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nasty? TXT? Nov 3, 2011

Parrot wrote:
I've never been asked for time codes and have been paid per minute of film, but I did try to do subtitling on my own. It's the nasty part, and the optimum results you'll get would be with some kind of software. Best consult this.

(AFAIK, the most universal format for subtitling is still *.txt).


Parrot,

IMO the "nastiest" part in subtitling is getting the client-provided video file into something "workable". The worst recent case was a DVD I received, declared as such. After several attempts and considerable research, I finally discovered that it was a data DVD containing four files in a format Panasonic developed, launched in 1995, and dropped immediately thereafter, as it became the seed for another format that is still being used nowadays. Digital video is a quite challenging area.

You may learn something on the entire subtitling process from http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/subtitling.html (intended for clients, not necessarily translators) and navigate from there to other musings on video translation I wrote for my web site.

The TXT format may be the most popular for subtitles among video translators who don't go beyond translation itself - it's much too late for me to go back to that now. The article above explains part of the difference between different subtitle file types.

The second 'nasty' part of subtitling is in having your 'best' computer hijacked, often for hours, by video rendering ops. I usually do this overnight, so when I get back to the computer on the next morning, my finished DVD is lying there on the open drive tray.


 

Christin S (X)
Local time: 20:19
It depends on the language and the client Nov 3, 2011

Dear Colin,

To my knowledge a subtitle usually consists of one or two lines and each line has no more than 35 characters including blanks and punctuation marks (max 40 in cinema and max 37 in DVD). However, the number of characters can vary depending on the language and also from company to company.
I guess you have to add a time code for every subtitle, so that they know when each subtitle starts and stops.

Good luck!

Christin


 

Just Opera
Belgium
Local time: 20:19
French to English
+ ...
A great subtitling guideline Nov 3, 2011

A Proposed Set of Subtitling Standards in Europe

Also in a nutshell it would be of great benefit to grab some subtitling software, there are many out there for free. Best way to learn. I use Belle Nuit as you can export / import between many formats and I also need to work on FCP for mastering in editing studios.

Regarding character per line, I've found 36 to be rule of the thumb. Two lines max.

Timecodes? They correspond to stop and start of each subtitle which should (in theory) correspond to start and stop of each spoken phrase (or segmented phrase). If you do timecodes bear in mind the viewer reading speed etc (i.e. it takes longer to read text than to speak it) and adjust the text with that in mind. Between 14-16cps is for me a comfortable reading speed. Tho I know MTV / Fox etc is 20cps

Good luck out there! (from a veteran of the subtitling wars).


[Edited at 2011-11-03 18:43 GMT]


 

Sylvano
Local time: 20:19
English to French
My advice Nov 3, 2011

Colin Parker wrote: What exactly does 'one subtitle' mean?

Is there a standard number of words/characters per subtitle?


Don't do a job you obviously haven't been trained to.

Subtitling is done with a proper software you know how to work with.
Subtitling is done in close relation with the program you're subtitling (with specific rules of reading speed, accurate frame timing, etc.).


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:19
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Precisely! Nov 3, 2011

Sylvano wrote:
Don't do a job you obviously haven't been trained to.


I tried to be "polite" by holding back my answer.
Now I second that!


 


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