Dubbing rates and effort spent
Thread poster: Lau Wei Tsinn

Lau Wei Tsinn  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 06:18
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Mar 8, 2012

There seems to be a lot of discussion on subtitling rates but not specifically on dubbing, which I would say, falls within the same job category.

I do not have extensive experience in this area although I've worked on both types and my feeling is that dubbing seems to take up a little more time and effort. I had to identify "reactions" such as growls, cries, pants, fights etc., which act as acting directions for voice actors. I would like to hear about the experience of other dubbers.

As for the rates, I started off with 6 USD/min and later raised it to 7 USD/min for the second dubbing job, which was quite acceptable to me. Is this considered a bad/average/good rate in this community?


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Video translation rates vary sharply, quality too Mar 8, 2012

In order to give a general background, I specialize in corporate video. Explained simply, it's Disney-standard quality, often with technical terminology. I began translating for dubbing in 1987, and discovered a natural talent, so I had no formal training. Incidentally, yesterday I found out that the very first video I ever translated for dubbing is still running. It was dubbed verbatim from my translation, and lip-sync came out great.

In 2004 due to an increased local demand for PT > EN translation for subtitling, I self-taught, or adapted my m.o. to do it as well. Digital video quickly led me to learn spotting, burning subs, editing video, and authoring DVDs.

Now, though I'm not the fastest video translator around, my rate is 6:1, and I usually work directly from the soundtrack, without a script, it takes me the same time and effort to translate a video for either dubbing or subtitling. While some of the tools I use are the same, the frame of mind is completely different. Of course I mean only adequate translation into text, either with characters adequately identified for dubbing, or lines properly broken for subtitling, nothing else. Time-spotting for subtitles is charged separately. So I charge the same rate per minute of total playing time to translate either for dubbing or subtitling.

However the Brazilian National Translators Syndicate thinks differently, as their suggested rates indicate that translation for dubbing should cost twice as much as for subtitling.

Meanwhile I see all kinds of prices everywhere. Some fellow translators charge more than I do, and on the other end of the scale there are some fansubbers who will do it for peanuts, just to get enough practice to eventually enter the market. Quality also varies sharply, as it is visible on cable TV. So I fail to see any standard rates in this cut-throat video translation global market, though some specific markets or language pairs may have a narrower range.


 

Sylvano
Local time: 00:18
English to French
Depends on where you work, I guess Mar 9, 2012

I don't know about difficulty in relation to subtitling (two very different but tricky tasks if you ask me), but in France, common rates in dubbing range from 14 to 30 euros per minute (depending on what you translate and where it is broadcast). Yeah, you read correctly. And you may add to that (sometimes substantial) subsequent royalties whenever your work is broadcast, in theaters and on TV.

 

Lau Wei Tsinn  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 06:18
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for sharing your experience Mar 12, 2012

Thanks to Jose and Sylvano for sharing. You've certainly given me a broader view of this area of work.

When going through the discussion threads for subtitling, much has been said of how this area of work is not very well paying. Perhaps, it is just a matter finding the right clients plus training and getting the right tools to produce quality work.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The right clients Mar 12, 2012

Lau Wei Tsinn wrote:
Perhaps, it is just a matter finding the right clients plus training and getting the right tools to produce quality work.


It depends on what would be "the right clients" for each translator.

As I specialize in corporate (i.e. institutional, training, product launch, etc.) videos, my clients demand flawless quality, since their company image will be at stake. More than once I had to re-render a subtitled video and its corresponding finished DVD because my last check showed that there was one typo, a missing period, etc. Of course this work pays better rates, but it's much more demanding. Other aspects worth mentioning are that a) I am completely free to use any software I like, as long as the final result is pristine; and b) demand is erratic, sometimes very high, yet weeks or months may elapse between one such job and another. (Thank goodness I translate a lot of other things too.)

Cinema and TV are quite different. Cost takes precedence over quality, though some minimum standards are required. Rates vary from average to lowest. They often demand the use of very expensive proprietary software, whose automation is expected to cover up the translators' relatively limited skill, as well as the short turnaround required. Market demand is heavy, and may get much heavier as you lower your rates. The lowest paying prospect I ever met told me that if I accepted their prices and deadlines, I'd have work to keep me busy 24/7/365, or as much of it as I dared to take.

So the "right" clients for one translator may be the "wrong" ones for another, and vice-versa. Software requirements may vary sharply.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
How long to dub 1 (one) minute of video with script given May 4, 2017

I've reviewed the postings here and no one is saying how long it takes to dub one (1) minute of video, with script provided.

Maybe 5 minutes per 1 minute of video, all things being equal?

Thanks.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How long does it take? May 4, 2017

Mario Chavez wrote:

How long to dub 1 (one) minute of video with script given

I've reviewed the postings here and no one is saying how long it takes to dub one (1) minute of video, with script provided.

Maybe 5 minutes per 1 minute of video, all things being equal?


To translate for dubbing, or to dub?

I've seen a number of surveys of this kind.

If the speech is clear and well enunciated, like, for instance by Eva LaRue or James Spader (my favorite examples of good enunciation), the majority of pros translate at a 1:6 average. It takes them six minutes to translate one minute of video. Extremes reported were 1:12 and one case who did 1:5.

The script should be for reference only. Good video translation is done from the video, to preserve its rhythm. The script is very useful when noise/music smothers speech, and for proper nouns, e.g. Smith vs. Schmidt, Oakland vs. Auckland, etc.

A dubber usually does his/her lip-sync recording job in four steps for each "loop" (up to about 20 seconds):
1. Listen for tone, emphasis, expression;
2. Listen again for timing;
3. Rehearse VO for timing; and
4. Record.

Experienced dubbers often do it right the first time, and move to the next "loop". Some will go on continuously, loop after loop, until they stumble. When they do, they'll go back only to the last pause up to when everything was correct.
Less skilled ones will usually repeat steps 3 and 4.
If the translation is bad, an experienced dubber will edit it in step 2. If the dubber is a newbie, the dubbing director will do it.

This is how it's done in Brazil. I wouldn't know how it's done in other countries.


 

Wojciech_
Poland
Local time: 00:18
English to Polish
+ ...
Impossible May 4, 2017

Mario Chavez wrote:

I've reviewed the postings here and no one is saying how long it takes to dub one (1) minute of video, with script provided.

Maybe 5 minutes per 1 minute of video, all things being equal?

Thanks.


Hi Mario,

If I read it correctly, you suggest that per one hour one could dub 12 minutes of a programme. I'm afraid, it's simply impossible.
In Poland most TV programmes run with a voice over (a voice-over artist reads the text from a translated script OVER the actual voices of the actor - much like in BBC documentaries) and translating such scripts is much easier than preparing dubbing scripts. This is because in voice-over you don't have to worry about the synchronization of the text with the time the actor opens his/her mouth (lip-sync), which in dubbing is essential.

Considering the above, I can say from my experience that in one hour you can translate 4-8 minutes of a TV programme for voice-over. With a truly professional dubbing, you would have to decrease this time to 2-4 minutes per hour.

Here is the comparison between voice-over (LEKTOR) and dubbing. As you can see, the latter requires much more effort from the translator.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Ml-R8-uQc




[Edited at 2017-05-04 16:05 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you, guys May 4, 2017

Thank you, Henrique and Wojciech. That is very useful information. I've received a request from a Portugal-based company asking me to do a dubbing for 110 minutes of a soccer training video, script provided by them. As Henrique said, I could get stuck with a script in need of some editing. I'm thinking of turning down the job.

 

Nathalie Schon  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:18
German to French
+ ...
Dubbing rates May 7

Proper dubbing (with Cappella or Mosaic) starts at 25€/min in France because it takes so long.
In some countries lip movement is ignored and so rates are lower.


 


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