Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
How fast can you translate subtitles? Is it worth doing?
Thread poster: xxxlarsjorgen

xxxlarsjorgen
Local time: 03:52
English to Norwegian
Jan 10, 2014

It's been a couple of years since I worked with subtitles, and when I started doing them again a few days ago I remembered why I quit - for about 7.5 hours work I get paid around 100 USD. In my country that's less than minimum wage. I mean, FAR less. If I were to work in a store selling furniture I would make about $60 more than that a day. Working full time as a translator where I work with only articles and stuff like that, I would make about $250 a day in a little over 7 hours on average; sometimes as much as $400 a day and even more, but the problem is that it's difficult to find work.

I get 3.5 USD per running minute and since I'm pretty fast and if I'm lucky with the difficulty level, I can translate 45 minutes of some crappy tv show in about 7-8 hours. Now, that's $157, so it's not THAT bad. But I'm not eating or taking any breaks at all while working, and after doing it for a couple of years I started having chest pains because of the stress and that's some of the reason why I quit. In case you were wondering. And didn't exactly help that 99% of the work I got had to be delivered overnight.

Been reading a few posts on this forum about how some of you would never do subtitles for less than $7-9 a minute, but what company/companies will offer that kind of payment? Someone else said that companies in the UK pays about £4 per minute (a little less than $7). Or twice as much as what I get, if you will. Wouldn't mind "hearing" some company names.icon_smile.gif

Now, the company I work for are pretty good at giving me work at a regular basis so that I can live off of it (at least they did when I last worked for them), but busting my @ss for nickels and dimes... I don't know. I even have to work nights most of the time because of where I live. I usually didn't have to handle the timing of the text or anything, but now it seems I have to do that as well.

I need some input here but I'm not quite sure what to ask. Maybe I can start with this: How long does it take you to translate 45 minutes of running time (which is what I get 99% of the time) and how well are you paid? Is it me that is just working too slow even if I feel I work fast? I mean, 6-7.000 words in 7-8 hours isn't THAT bad?

Edit: And now I just read that the average wordcount for a 45-minute episode of a TV series is 3000 words. Uhm no, not the tv series I translate anyway; I think the average is about 5500-6000 words or something like that. One time it came close to 8000, but the actors talked the crap out of it too, though. I think it was Pushing Daisies or something.

If it wasn't for the steady stream of work and that the company pays on time every time, I would once again stop doing subs...

[Edited at 2014-01-10 03:36 GMT]


 

Ola Bietti  Identity Verified
Poland
French to Polish
+ ...
depends Jan 10, 2014

Hi,
In my experience (almost 2 years SDH subtitles, based on a translation and some movie translation), the more experienced you are, the faster you get.
I wish I would earn the money you're earning (and yes, I was working like you - 10 hours per day, sometimes 3 weeks without a break, weekends include, just to get paid less than... most people).
I have been payed more for TV shows - because there is much more text, more speed, it's harder. Movies pay less but they're nicer to work on and anyway you get paid per minutes whether there is text or not (so I loved dancing movies, etc.).icon_smile.gif
Hoped it helped, good luck!


 

xxxlarsjorgen
Local time: 03:52
English to Norwegian
TOPIC STARTER
Well... Jan 10, 2014

I've been working as a translator for almost 5 years and still they pay the same. I guess there are just loads of people willing to work for less than minimum wage and that makes the whole thing more difficult for the rest of us.

You're right, I'm a lot faster now than when I first started out, but I've been delivering high quality all along and still I get the same pay. I really feel my time is worth more. I should mention that I also run a computer company where I normally get paid about $330 for 1.5 hours of work.

"Why do you even bother working as a translator at all if you make that kind of money?" Well, simply because the volume isn't there. I once made $660 in an hour, but where's the point in that if it's only once every 2 months. Steady work = steady income.

Tv shows is what pays less, by far. When translating articles I charge $0.12 per word, and in my country that's considered cheap. Companies usually charge about 30-50% more than that. Do you get paid per word for tv shows since you make more money off of them?


It's btw really annoying that we have to make a title for our replies on this forum...

[Edited at 2014-01-11 00:00 GMT]


 

Taru Laiho
Local time: 04:52
Finnish to English
+ ...
You have a point Jan 10, 2014


It's btw really annoying that we have to make a title for our replies on this forum...

[Edited at 2014-01-10 14:19 GMT]

I totally agree! That's a feature that could be improved.

But to get to the actual point... I think that the major problem with translating subtitles is the fact that there really seem to be so many people (mostly students or people with no formal language education, I should think) who are willing to work for peanuts. If I were the CEO of a company that publishes TV shows/movies which need to have subtitles, I don't think I would pay a decent wage if I knew I could get the job done cheaper (even if realised that the quality might not be as good). That's just how it goes - those companies have to make some profit, too, to keep the business up and running.

I don't think I would settle for a job that paid an average of $100 - 150 per day only if I worked like crazy, no matter how much I loved the job. Actually, I gave up my dream of becoming a literary translator because it just doesn't pay enough. Now I translate mostly technical texts and agreements, which are nowhere near as interesting as books, but I get a decent living out of it without having to work until I drop.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Amateurs abound Jan 10, 2014

Taru Laiho wrote:

I think that the major problem with translating subtitles is the fact that there really seem to be so many people (mostly students or people with no formal language education, I should think) who are willing to work for peanuts. If I were the CEO of a company that publishes TV shows/movies which need to have subtitles, I don't think I would pay a decent wage if I knew I could get the job done cheaper (even if realised that the quality might not be as good). That's just how it goes - those companies have to make some profit, too, to keep the business up and running.


Anyone can find hundreds of sites on the web offering free subtitles for thousands of movies in dozens of languages. Translation quality usually varies from very bad to horrible. Spotting is often worse.

My take is that these people are doing it for fun, in an attempt to develop quality to eventually apply as professional subtitlers. The problem is that since nobody will hold them accountable for any level of quality, nobody will ever give them feedback, they will NEVER improve to any barely acceptable quality standard.

For those here who can read Brazilian Portuguese, I did an experiment, comparing the full professional translation o one TV series ("Bones") episode with a "very bad" amateur translation of the same, on the table at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/legendas-gratis-.html .

Last Christmas, I had the time to spare, so I did a larger experiment. One of my questions I was trying to get answered was whether it's worthwhile to have subtitles translated and time-spotted by a cheap amateur, and later 'fixed' by a pro. So I took the 124-min feature movie "Now You See Me", and tried to fix a set of very popular (by the number of downloads) but clearly horrible, quality-wise, amateur (fansubber) subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese.

I intend to write and publish a complete report on the experiment and its various conclusions (other issues covered as well). For the time being, I can definitely say that NO, it's NOT cost effective to have a pro 'fixing' an amateur's subtitles, as this requires about the same time and effort as redoing it all from scratch. Furthermore, as the pro gets overwhelmed with so many flaws to fix, anything that is barely acceptable will be left as-is, while a fresh translation by that pro would be certainly better.


 

Sylvano
Local time: 03:52
English to French
One of many mysteries... Jan 11, 2014

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
I can definitely say that NO, it's NOT cost effective to have a pro 'fixing' an amateur's subtitles, as this requires about the same time and effort as redoing it all from scratch. Furthermore, as the pro gets overwhelmed with so many flaws to fix, anything that is barely acceptable will be left as-is, while a fresh translation by that pro would be certainly better.


No, indeed, this way to do things is a waste of time and money for both the client and the translator. To me, it's even far worse than doing it from scratch, since you feel compelled to stick more or less to a crappy base. But no client ever understands that when you try to explain it. It's one of the many mysteries of our field...


 

Sylvano
Local time: 03:52
English to French
It's a dead end Jan 11, 2014

larsjorgen wrote:
I can translate 45 minutes of some crappy tv show in about 7-8 hours.
(...)
Is it me that is just working too slow even if I feel I work fast?


No, actually, from my point of view, even if I do understand your profitability issue, you're working way too fast to deliver quality. From what you describe, with the type of client you're talking about, there is only one conclusion to draw : quit the job. You'll never be able to have a decent life and pay under those conditions. The day rates really drop in my country and I feel I can't work correctly and earn a decent living any more, I'll definitely look for something else (even if it's my initial training and I love it). Audiovisual translation is a hard and very qualified job, it has to be paid accordingly. Well, to the least, there's a bottom limit (which may vary according to the projects, OK) to how much it must be paid.


 

S_A_DL
Chile
Local time: 21:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Underpaid. Jan 11, 2014

I did it for a little while and I think it is sadly an underpaid job. That's why I quit.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
That was (ad is) my intent Jan 11, 2014

Sylvano wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
I can definitely say that NO, it's NOT cost effective to have a pro 'fixing' an amateur's subtitles, as this requires about the same time and effort as redoing it all from scratch. Furthermore, as the pro gets overwhelmed with so many flaws to fix, anything that is barely acceptable will be left as-is, while a fresh translation by that pro would be certainly better.


No, indeed, this way to do things is a waste of time and money for both the client and the translator. To me, it's even far worse than doing it from scratch, since you feel compelled to stick more or less to a crappy base. But no client ever understands that when you try to explain it. It's one of the many mysteries of our field...


All too often clients, especially video clients, don't believe what I tell them. They think they are smarter, and that I'm trying to rip'em off in some subreptitious way when I tell them that, e.g. a transcript (and the corresponding cost) is NOT necessary to translate a video for subtitles.

My intent with this experiment is to PROVE that having a pro fixing an amateur's crappy translation and subtitling is OBVIOUSLY a most stupid way of doing business.


 

xxxlarsjorgen
Local time: 03:52
English to Norwegian
TOPIC STARTER
informative title Jan 11, 2014

Sylvano wrote:
No, actually, from my point of view, even if I do understand your profitability issue, you're working way too fast to deliver quality. From what you describe, with the type of client you're talking about, there is only one conclusion to draw : quit the job. You'll never be able to have a decent life and pay under those conditions. The day rates really drop in my country and I feel I can't work correctly and earn a decent living any more, I'll definitely look for something else (even if it's my initial training and I love it). Audiovisual translation is a hard and very qualified job, it has to be paid accordingly. Well, to the least, there's a bottom limit (which may vary according to the projects, OK) to how much it must be paid.


It's a little strange that you just assume that I deliver low quality since I'm fast. They've told me over and over again that they are very happy with the quality I deliver and told me to keep up the good work. I just happen to be pretty dang fast on the keyoard. I don't think the job is hard at all, but then again, I translate tv series for teens and movies, so how hard can it be.


 

xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 03:52
French to Dutch
+ ...
Fast translators Jan 11, 2014

larsjorgen wrote:
It's a little strange that you just assume that I deliver low quality since I'm fast. They've told me over and over again that they are very happy with the quality I deliver and told me to keep up the good work. I just happen to be pretty dang fast on the keyoard. I don't think the job is hard at all, but then again, I translate tv series for teens and movies, so how hard can it be.


Fast translators should not be paid by the hour. Or otherwise, invoice more hours or be paid by the word or subtitle.
Especially when it's good too.

And always the same thing:
but what company/companies will offer that kind of payment?


You're not a beggar but an indpendent translation services provider. How much do you QUOTE? How much is it worth?

[Edited at 2014-01-11 22:15 GMT]


 

xxxlarsjorgen
Local time: 03:52
English to Norwegian
TOPIC STARTER
silly title function.. Jan 12, 2014

nrichy wrote:
Fast translators should not be paid by the hour. Or otherwise, invoice more hours or be paid by the word or subtitle.
Especially when it's good too.

I get paid per minute running time, but when it's, you know, ~1000 lines of text (1 line is 1 line of 38 char.) in a 45 minutes long tv show, it takes time even if I'm fast.


You're not a beggar but an indpendent translation services provider. How much do you QUOTE? How much is it worth?


I keep hearing that, but what can you do when others are willing to work for nickels and dimes? I mean, I even had employees myself for a while; I paid them next to nothing, but they got what they deserved, to put it that way. The companies that hire amateurs must spend a lot of money on proofreaders...

Besides, how do you market yourself? Do you just contact a bunch of companies with your résumé and tell them your price, or how do you do it? I mean, I had several customers even when I almost stopped working as a translator altogether since I was running my computer company, and they all came back because they were happy with the quality. I really feel that's worth more than what I get right now, but I also think it's difficult to find my way in the jungle of competitors, information, companies etc etc.


 

Sylvano
Local time: 03:52
English to French
I don't see it exactly that way Jan 12, 2014

larsjorgen wrote:
They've told me over and over again that they are very happy with the quality I deliver and told me to keep up the good work.

I think they most certainly are very happy with the rate they give you. Even if you don't deliver top quality, they definitely have value for money. I guess they don't want to lose you.

larsjorgen wrote:I just happen to be pretty dang fast on the keyoard.

Well, my point exactly. You may be typing a bit too fast...icon_wink.gif


 

Sylvano
Local time: 03:52
English to French
Ouch... Jan 12, 2014

larsjorgen wrote:
I keep hearing that, but what can you do when others are willing to work for nickels and dimes?


Well, obviously, you are one of the 'others'.

larsjorgen wrote:
I mean, I even had employees myself for a while; I paid them next to nothing, but they got what they deserved, to put it that way.


OK. End of discussion as far I'm concerned... You ask for a way to earn more as a translator, but you're glad to pay badly as a boss? Sorry, I don't get it. Why aren't you happy with your situation?


 

xxxlarsjorgen
Local time: 03:52
English to Norwegian
TOPIC STARTER
I don't really care what you think Jan 12, 2014

Sylvano wrote:

larsjorgen wrote:
They've told me over and over again that they are very happy with the quality I deliver and told me to keep up the good work.

I think they most certainly are very happy with the rate they give you. Even if you don't deliver top quality, they definitely have value for money. I guess they don't want to lose you.

larsjorgen wrote:I just happen to be pretty dang fast on the keyoard.

Well, my point exactly. You may be typing a bit too fast...icon_wink.gif


I don't know if I should take this as an insult or if I should just ignore you.

I have an average of 3-4 typos per 6000 words. That includes spacing, punctuation, staying within protocol etc. They keep track and make reports on every single piece of work I deliver. And yes, I do my own proofreading before delivering.

I'm just that good.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-01-12 15:34 GMT]


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How fast can you translate subtitles? Is it worth doing?

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search