How long subtitling may take
Thread poster: toffee1

Sri Lanka
Local time: 21:07
English to Sinhala (Sinhalese)
+ ...
Jun 21, 2012

How long does it take to subtitle a movie of say , 110 minutes with nearly 1400 subtitles ( transcript )
What is your time estimate ?


Margarita Díaz  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
French to Spanish
+ ...
14 hours Jun 21, 2012


In my case it usually takes me an average of one hour for 100 subtitles, it would depend on how fast you are with the cueing and on the program you use and the practice you have with it.

Happy sutbtitling!



Marta Nazare  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
24 hours Jun 21, 2012


It takes me about 24 hours, more or less 2 days. I like to watch the movie at least 2 times and I search a lot to make sure I fully understand everything, that is, I've been given films about all sorts of themes and I had to search the web in order to read about them and make a good interpretation/translation.

I agree with Margarita. Practice makes perfect.
And having time to translate and think about the translation helps too.
Cueing is the least of my problems. I can work very well with Spot, the program I use to subtitle here in Portugal.

Good luck!



Yaroslav_P  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:37
English to Russian
+ ...
charge Jun 21, 2012

It may seem offtopic...
How much do you charge for subtitling on hearing? (I assume it's not a secreticon_smile.gif)
Is it worth of efforts?


Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
English to French
Am I slow, or.... Jun 21, 2012

You all seem to work very fast. I've recently done 500 subtitles (50 minutes of film) in 13 hours, with a fully detailed dialogue list.

The ATAA (the French association for audiovisual translation) says a long feature film (100 minutes) should take 2 weeks to subtitle, taking into account the writing work only (meaning not including revision, technical aspects etc).

I know, in reality, it's difficult to demand to have 2 weeks to subtitle a film, but I cannot provide decent work in 2 days. I'm not ready for certain companies that ask their providers to subtitle 40 min / day.

We are not machines.


Sri Lanka
Local time: 21:07
English to Sinhala (Sinhalese)
+ ...
14 hours is fantastic Jun 22, 2012

14 hours is fantastic. It takes me on the average close to 24 hours to do a film. I read the synopsis first and then watch 10 minute snippets because It is necessary to keep the suspense in my mind too to some extent. How ever sometimes I have to come back and reinforce a dialogue later when some small thing turns out to be very important in the end.
In addition sinhalese is a language with different structures ( it belongs to the indo-aryan group of languages it is closer to german than english ).
I use aegisub for subtitling, with the audio time line it is easier to spot. It is freeware.

How much I charge ? Actually not much but I do not want to divulge. It is a closely guarded secret because different TV stations pay different amounts. some pay 100% more than the others. So I don't want those guys to have a sniff of how much I get.

Quality of english -sinhala feature film is low at the moment. For me this is a hobby as well, so I try to experiment a bit, but some stations want a specific format. I think there is lot of room for (responsible) creativity in sinhala subtitling.
Thanks for your replies !


Marta Nazare  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You are right, Faustine. We are not machines. Jun 22, 2012

You are right, Faustine.

We should have at least a week or two to translate/subtitle a film. Unfortunately here in Portugal I am always given by the company I work for between 2 to 3 days to subtitle a film. It's a lot of work in such a short time, but the Portuguese companies encourage us to do so by paying badly. Everyone I know that is a subtitler here in Portugal doesn't get paid much for a film, therefore we have to work fast and subtitle more. It's sad, I know, but we've got to make a living. I am ashamed to tell you how much these companies are willing to pay for a film here in Portugal. You would be shocked!

[Editado em 2012-06-22 15:29 GMT]


Local time: 16:37
English to French
I wouldn't say 'sad' Jun 22, 2012

Marta Nazare wrote:It's a lot of work in such a short time, but the Portuguese companies encourage us to do so by paying badly. Everyone I know that is a subtitler here in Portugal doesn't get paid much for a film, therefore we have to work fast and subtitle more.

Still sounds absurd, when you really think about it...

I'd say a regular deadline for a normal movie would be one week (at least), cueing + translating.

Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
That would take me 4 days Jun 22, 2012

in 30-minute stretches. At the end of the day I go over the 30 minutes to check. This isn't cut-and-dried at all and I know I could do more (40-45), but I prefer to be sure about a perfect product. If asked, I'd tell the outsourcer 4 days and not have to ask for extensions.


United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
+ ...
24-32 hours Jun 25, 2012

Based on the current specifications from most of my clients, for a monolingual job, I would allow 24 hours, including spotting. For translation and spotting, I'd allow around 32 hours.

I can work more quickly than that, but it takes the enjoyment out of the job and also reduces the quality of the end product.

Back in my early days as a subtitler, we would probably have allowed up to 40 hours for a monolingual job and up to 60 for translation.


Marcin Mituniewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
English to Polish
Remember to 'refresh' Sep 26, 2012

Hi everyone

The good advice is too evaluate your translation for the first time a day after the work is done and the second time on a second day after you've finished. You'd be surprised with the new ideas that came to your mind and mistakes you didn't notice before. It's the same as with the learning process in general - new knowledge needs to be 'slept over' with literally. So, add two days to your work time just to polish your translation. It works fine for me!

[Zmieniono 2012-09-26 14:56 GMT]

[Zmieniono 2012-09-26 15:06 GMT]


Marianne Eden  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
Member (2008)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Subtitling of documentary 117 min. English to Norwegian Jan 31, 2014

This thread has been VERY useful, thank you! I was just offered usd 4/min for translating a documentary of 117 minutes into Norwegian. After a bit of calculating I ended up with more or less usd 20/hour. Just turned down the job immediately.


Ying Cui
Local time: 23:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
What do you think of translation of 16 hours TV program per month in exchange of 15OO USD wages Sep 16, 2014

What do you think of translation of 16 hours TV program per month in exchange of 15OO USD wages(script is provided)? Could you estimate an hourly rate according to the information I gave? How long does it normally take for a beginner video translator to translate a one-hour TV program? Thank you.

[Edited at 2014-09-16 02:33 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Usable metrics Sep 16, 2014

Quite frankly, as an engineer by education, I read all these messages so far, and was wondering how I would apply dimensional analysis here.icon_wink.gif

My metrics for video translation is T/T, i.e. "How much time does it take me to translate a playing time unit?"

My ratio is 6:1, i.e. in average it takes me 6 minutes to translate one minute of video. Conversely, I can translate 10 minutes of video in one hour.

However this is continuous production on a known subject. It leaves no time for research, solving puzzles (e.g word play, jokes), figuring out tough spots (e.g. when music+effects overwhelm speech, and a reliable script is not available), nor getting some short breaks to clear up your mind.

As I started out translating video for dubbing, and in most cases a script was not available, I always wondered why clients insisted so much in getting a discount when they did provide a script. Last week I saw the final answer to this question in this short video.

Anyway, I've seen colleagues stating that their ratio is 5:1 to 12:1, however I'm not sure how they measure it. Perhaps the 12:1 ratio includes everything I don't in my 6:1.

Let's take Ying Cui's figures, 16 hours' playing time for $1,500.

If her ratio were like mine, 6:1, she'd work 96 "solid" hours per month, earning $15.63/hour. However this fails to include her taking a breath now and then.

Taking it as a full-time job, say, 160 hours/month, thus allowing 64 hours/month for all that, her all-inclusive ratio should be 10:1. If she can keep that for extended periods of time, that's feasible. In this case, she'll be making $1,500/160 hours = $9.38/hour.
The problem becomes whether this is worthwhile for her skills/experience where she lives.


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