Free software that works as close as possible like Swift?
Thread poster: Nele Van den Broeck

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
Mar 3, 2015

Dear "colleagues",

I graduated in July 2014 as a translator and have been working as a secretary since then.
I absolutely love translating and especially subtitling and want to make it my main job one day.

However, I still lack experience (because obviously, studying at university for five years is not nearly enough) and I am trying to compensate that lack of experience by translating as a volunteer for charity (which I absolutely love).

One of my "clients" asked me if I could subtitle a video for them, and although I really love subtitling and (according to our teachers at university) I seem to have a talent for it, I don't have the correct equipment (software) for it.
In my years at university we subtitled using Swift subtitling software which I really liked both for manually timecoding as for the translationpart ... I liked that it counts characters, gives you a green "light" whenever you didn't have too much characters per second and a red light when you had too much, as well as the accurate spotting possibilities using your numberpad.

Since I'm only working as a volunteer at the moment, and I don't earn any money with my subtitling/translation, I am looking for free subtitling software, preferably something as close to Swift as possible, but especially an "all in one"program.

What are my options?


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
Please don't let go of your dream! Mar 3, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

Dear "colleagues",

I graduated in July 2014 as a translator and have been working as a secretary since then.
I absolutely love translating and especially subtitling and want to make it my main job one day.

However, I still lack experience (because obviously, studying at university for five years is not nearly enough) and I am trying to compensate that lack of experience by translating as a volunteer for charity (which I absolutely love).

One of my "clients" asked me if I could subtitle a video for them, and although I really love subtitling and (according to our teachers at university) I seem to have a talent for it, I don't have the correct equipment (software) for it.
In my years at university we subtitled using Swift subtitling software which I really liked both for manually timecoding as for the translationpart ... I liked that it counts characters, gives you a green "light" whenever you didn't have too much characters per second and a red light when you had too much, as well as the accurate spotting possibilities using your numberpad.

Since I'm only working as a volunteer at the moment, and I don't earn any money with my subtitling/translation, I am looking for free subtitling software, preferably something as close to Swift as possible, but especially an "all in one"program.

What are my options?


Hi Nele,

Nele, you are in a wonderful position of having a relevant degree and, more importantly, being Dutch! The Dutch subtitling market is booming, and you can definitely make a living off both subtitling and captioning.

However, you'll be disappointed to learn that no free subtitling tool comes even close to Swift. You'll be told that you can use Subtitle Workshop, Subtitle Edit, Subtitle Editor, Jubler, VisualSubSync, DivX Subtitler, Aegisub and a bunch of other free programs just fine, but that is absolutely not true — they don't provide a fraction of Swift's functionality, especially in the "all-in-one" department.

Ultimately, what program to use depends on what exact type of subtitles you create. If they are open subs, I recommend that you use Aegisub in conjunction with Subtitle Workshop: Aegisub for spotting and translating and SW for checking and fixing. You will have to spend quite some time learning to use the programs to their full potential, but it is definitely worth it.

P.S. Please make sure to read Jonathan's tips for newbie subtitlers: http://www.translationengland.com/translation-blog/how-to-make-it-as-a-freelance-subtitler

[Edited at 2015-03-03 20:44 GMT]


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
YouTube's captioning interface Mar 3, 2015

Might sound silly, but have you tried YouTube's captioning interface? It has some very clever tricks up its sleeve. Obviously not a pro package, but maybe interesting to try.

See e.g.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCZ-cxfxzvk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbUcv3Bc61g

Michael


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Unfortunately not Dutch Mar 3, 2015

Hi Max,

Unfortunately I have to tell you that I am not Dutch but Belgian (to be exact, Dutch people would describe "my language" as Flemish, whereas Flemish Belgians would describe their language as Dutch and we do share the same dictionaries and so on...). I would therefor probably only be able to subtitle for a Belgian market (or a shared market), although that is nice as well since our government decided that starting in 2015, 99% of our TVshows (news included) should be subtitled (monolingual or duolingual)...

I will definitely check Jonathan's tips and will try to get a hang of Aegisub and Subtitling Workshop.
Thank you! And I will never let go of my dream...

I do loooove translating/subtitling, and according to my teachers I am really fast and accurate, so I would love to explore the whole subtitlingworld a bit more.
I think it's a good thing that I'm gaining experience through translating as a volunteer for charity, and I'm thinking about starting as an independant translator (after working hours as a secretary to start with, since starting as an independant is especially hard in Belgium) in July 2015 or January 2016 (probably the latter).
Later on (that would be a 10-year plan) I would love to be a full-time independant translator/subtitler (I don't really like working as a secretary I have to admit, and get bored quite easily), but I have to start somewhere...

Up til now I have subtitled around 20 hours of video using Swift.
I know that one of my friends (who ahum.... really doesn't have a clue about how to subtitle in a professional way, and who really admits that he just guesses when he can start or end a subtitle, and that's quite clear if you look at his subtitles) sometimes after working hours subtitles videos related to his work because he thinks that those videos should be subtitled...
I offered him to sometimes subtitle for him as a volunteer, and just want my name to be mentioned as the subtitler in return.

Sounds fair when I'm still trying to gain experience for whenever I really start my business?


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
I see Mar 4, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:
Unfortunately I have to tell you that I am not Dutch but Belgian (to be exact, Dutch people would describe "my language" as Flemish, whereas Flemish Belgians would describe their language as Dutch and we do share the same dictionaries and so on...).


Oh, sorry. My badicon_smile.gif


Nele Van den Broeck wrote:
I would therefor probably only be able to subtitle for a Belgian market (or a shared market), although that is nice as well since our government decided that starting in 2015, 99% of our TVshows (news included) should be subtitled (monolingual or duolingual)...


This alone is enough to feel confident about your professional future.


Nele Van den Broeck wrote:
I do loooove translating/subtitling, and according to my teachers I am really fast and accurate, so I would love to explore the whole subtitlingworld a bit more.
I think it's a good thing that I'm gaining experience through translating as a volunteer for charity, and I'm thinking about starting as an independant translator (after working hours as a secretary to start with, since starting as an independant is especially hard in Belgium) in July 2015 or January 2016 (probably the latter).
Later on (that would be a 10-year plan) I would love to be a full-time independant translator/subtitler (I don't really like working as a secretary I have to admit, and get bored quite easily), but I have to start somewhere...

Up til now I have subtitled around 20 hours of video using Swift.
I know that one of my friends (who ahum.... really doesn't have a clue about how to subtitle in a professional way, and who really admits that he just guesses when he can start or end a subtitle, and that's quite clear if you look at his subtitles) sometimes after working hours subtitles videos related to his work because he thinks that those videos should be subtitled...
I offered him to sometimes subtitle for him as a volunteer, and just want my name to be mentioned as the subtitler in return.

Sounds fair when I'm still trying to gain experience for whenever I really start my business?


You are already more qualified for subtitling than many well-off subtitlers I know. I think you'll do well. At one point in time, however, you will have to decide what professional tool to purchase, and that's when Jonathan's third tip will come in handy.

I recommend that you join a professional subtitling association (or two) such as ESIST or SUBTLE. You get great newsletters and wonderful networking opportunities — all that for a small annual fee.

[Edited at 2015-03-04 07:35 GMT]


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
- Mar 4, 2015

*double post; please ignore*

[Edited at 2015-03-04 07:35 GMT]


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still Aegisub - Subtitle Workshop challenge... Apr 9, 2015

Dear colleagues (and especially Max who helped my very much last time),

I'm still in the process of deciding what would be best as a temporary solution (although I still prefer SWIFT at the moment, but since I'm not translating/subtitling professionally yet, this is way too expensive for me).

I've tested Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop, and am trying to subtitle a Spanish music video of about 5 min. video time. With SWIFT this would have been peanuts, but with Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop I am still trying to get it right and it does not seem to work out the way I want it...

Maybe you can help me?

1) For both Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop: can you attach the subtitles directly to the video while saving it?
I'm trying to help a friend but he obviously does not have any subtitling programs and wants to put the subtitled version on Youtube afterwards. In order to be able to achieve that, we should have one file, not a separate video file and a separate subtitles file.

2) For Aegisub: I really don't understand how it works? I can't seem to find the button to start the subtitle's timing and end it?

3) For Subtitle Workshop (which I already think is more userfriendly than Aegisub):
- First of all: the sound is working, video is not working (it's in MP4-format) Edit: This problem is solved, something to do with settings that I still needed to change
- Then: I do get how this works and I like it. Although I'm still missing something for the timespotting. In SWIFT you can play the video delayed and go further or go back frame by frame (which offers you the possibility to do provide very accurate timespotting). Is there something comparable in Subtitle Workshop that I just have not found yet? Or do I have to accept that using free software, I will never get it correct at 1/24 of a second, the way I can do it using SWIFT?
I did find that with ALT + Left or ALT + Right you can go further and back for 15 frames, first of all it's only accurate by 10 frames, whereas in SWIFT you can do it frame by frame, and you don't hear the beginning of speech (the difference in sound from when noone is speaking) frame by frame, what you would hear using SWIFT...

Is there anyone who can give me some advice?

[Edited at 2015-04-09 22:34 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-09 22:38 GMT]


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
Oh Nele, but manuals are there for us to read ;) Apr 10, 2015

Hi Nele,

First of all, you should read through the manuals of these two programs. Subtitle Workshop's manual is accessed from within the program, and Aegisub's manual can be found here: http://docs.aegisub.org/3.2/Main_Page/

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

1) For both Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop: can you attach the subtitles directly to the video while saving it?

I'm trying to help a friend but he obviously does not have any subtitling programs and wants to put the subtitled version on Youtube afterwards. In order to be able to achieve that, we should have one file, not a separate video file and a separate subtitles file.


I am not sure I understand what you mean here, but if you mean burning-in, then no, you can't do that in Aegisub, you'd need third-party software to burn your subs. What you can do, however, is simply upload the subtitle file on YouTube via their CC service — that avoids visual artifacts created by the compression/expansion of the video image that YouTube does.

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:
2) For Aegisub: I really don't understand how it works? I can't seem to find the button to start the subtitle's timing and end it?


There is no such a button. You use the Waveform for spotting. The process is outlined here: http://docs.aegisub.org/3.2/Timing and described in detail in my ProZ webinar on timecoding in Aegisub.

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

3) For Subtitle Workshop (which I already think is more userfriendly than Aegisub):
- Then: I do get how this works and I like it. Although I'm still missing something for the timespotting. In SWIFT you can play the video delayed and go further or go back frame by frame (which offers you the possibility to do provide very accurate timespotting). Is there something comparable in Subtitle Workshop that I just have not found yet? Or do I have to accept that using free software, I will never get it correct at 1/24 of a second, the way I can do it using SWIFT?


Creating timecodes in Aegisub is light years easier than it is in SWIFT, but you need to read the manual first to get to know how timecoding in Aegisub works.

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

I did find that with ALT + Left or ALT + Right you can go further and back for 15 frames, first of all it's only accurate by 10 frames, whereas in SWIFT you can do it frame by frame, and you don't hear the beginning of speech (the difference in sound from when noone is speaking) frame by frame, what you would hear using SWIFT...


There is no audio scrubbing in SW6. In Aegisub you see where to start and end your subs on the waveform/spectrum and you can scrub using your keyboard's left and right arrow buttons after clicking on the video.

[Edited at 2015-04-10 09:46 GMT]


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Max Apr 10, 2015

I did read both manuals a couple of days ago, but I still didn't get how it worked... Especially not when trying to experiment with Aegisub.

I think my main problem was that I did not understand what "committing" was and how to get to the next subtitle.

Yesterday I was still preferring Subtitle Workshop and "hating" Aegisub, now I think I prefer Aegisub.
I am still going to practice with both of them in order to learn to know how to use them both and to get to know which one I prefer.

I suppose you prefer Aegisub? Why?
And I suppose (from what I have read on this forum) that José Lamendorf prefers Subtitle Workshop? Again: why?

At the moment I still prefer SWIFT, but that's probably because I'm still used to it. I've been subtitling using SWIFT for countless hours (countless for someone who recently graduated, not compared to what you both would call "countless") and I honestly can't even remember what it felt like when I started to use SWIFT.

I am getting more and more used to timespotting with Aegisub, and I already got it with Subtitle Workshop as well, but I seem to have the idea (or maybe there are still things I didn't discover yet) that you can do the time-spotting more accurately using Aegisub than using SW, is that correct?

And the first thing you did not understand: yes, I think I tried to describe "burning-in", but we never really did it and I don't really know a lot of subtitling terminology in English either. Most of my subtitling classes were in French, some of them in Dutch (my native language) and I had only about 5 subtitlingclasses (2 hours each) in English...


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
- Apr 10, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

I did read both manuals a couple of days ago, but I still didn't get how it worked... Especially not when trying to experiment with Aegisub.

I think my main problem was that I did not understand what "committing" was and how to get to the next subtitle.

Yesterday I was still preferring Subtitle Workshop and "hating" Aegisub, now I think I prefer Aegisub.
I am still going to practice with both of them in order to learn to know how to use them both and to get to know which one I prefer.

I suppose you prefer Aegisub? Why?
And I suppose (from what I have read on this forum) that José Lamendorf prefers Subtitle Workshop? Again: why?

At the moment I still prefer SWIFT, but that's probably because I'm still used to it. I've been subtitling using SWIFT for countless hours (countless for someone who recently graduated, not compared to what you both would call "countless") and I honestly can't even remember what it felt like when I started to use SWIFT.

I am getting more and more used to timespotting with Aegisub, and I already got it with Subtitle Workshop as well, but I seem to have the idea (or maybe there are still things I didn't discover yet) that you can do the time-spotting more accurately using Aegisub than using SW, is that correct?

And the first thing you did not understand: yes, I think I tried to describe "burning-in", but we never really did it and I don't really know a lot of subtitling terminology in English either. Most of my subtitling classes were in French, some of them in Dutch (my native language) and I had only about 5 subtitlingclasses (2 hours each) in English...


Nele, I prefer neither — I work in EZTitlesicon_smile.gif

I think that for professional subtitling neither of these two programs work alone — SW does not have shot change detection, and Aegisub does not have checks. So you'll need to use them both to achieve desirable results.

Swift is easily better than any free subtitling tool I've seen, but it is also one of the most expensive commercial subtitling products I know.


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I absolutely love Swift, but it's too expensive for someone who just graduated... Apr 10, 2015

And I start liking Aegisub as well.

If you would give SWIFT an 8 out of 10, what would you give EZtitles?
I just checked what EZtitles would cost and I now wonder why (if there is a good reason) SWIFT and WinCaps cost +- 2 times what EzTitles costs...

At university our teachers are now starting to use WinCaps instead of SWIFT, however I'm still used to SWIFT.
Getting more and more used to Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop though...


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:49
Member (2013)
English to Russian
- Apr 10, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:

And I start liking Aegisub as well.

If you would give SWIFT an 8 out of 10, what would you give EZtitles?
I just checked what EZtitles would cost and I now wonder why (if there is a good reason) SWIFT and WinCaps cost +- 2 times what EzTitles costs...

At university our teachers are now starting to use WinCaps instead of SWIFT, however I'm still used to SWIFT.
Getting more and more used to Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop though...


EZTitles is 9.5/10. I absolutely love the program and use it for everything subtitling-related.

To compare, SWIFT to EZTitles is what a 2005 Ford Focus is to a mint Tesla Model S.

If your teachers are starting to use WinCAPS instead of SWIFT, you should suggest that they download the trial version of EZTitles and give the program a go. It is head and shoulders above WinCAPS Qu4ntum for most subtitling-related tasks (although it still does not support respeaking, so there's that).


 

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 08:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Will let others suggest that... Apr 10, 2015

I will definitely tell other younger students to suggest that. I don't really have contact with my teachers anymore.
I graduated in July 2014 and am now working full time as a secretary.
I am however planning to start part-time (on top of my full time job) as a freelance translator (and later on when I can afford commercial subtitle software as a subtitler as well, after still continuing to practice)...

I finished my first Aegisub subtitled video!
Now still the burning-in process...

I now have the video (I have it in MP4, AVI and VMW) and the subtitled file in .ASS

Still a bit of experimenting to do... But I will manage!


 


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