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Rates for subtitling work
Thread poster: Marie Rollet

Marie Rollet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Member (2016)
English to French
Mar 17, 2016

Hi,

I have been looking for some indication as to what was the current going rate for subtitling work. Most forum entries/web links are dated and not very informative.

Could anyone with experience in this area give me an idea for acceptable rates for

transcription?

translation of a script and subtitling?

transcription, translation and subtitling?

I had a few requests but am worried I'll quote either way too high or way too low...


Any help would be appreciated!

Many thanks


 

Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:12
French to Spanish
+ ...
Hi. Mar 17, 2016

Some lack of information, I'm afraid.

1.- Have you any experience in this field?
2.- Where are you?
3.- What pair of languages?
4.- What kind of material are you talking about?

We don't do transcription + translation of a script and then subtitling, useless work.
We translate directly for/in subtitling.

Having an original script might help... but I never look at it.

Having a spotting list like this is 50% of job done:

1
00:00:06,342 --> 00:00:08,517
Como nosotros le damos
el color al cielo,

2
00:00:09,839 --> 00:00:12,582
literalmente le otorgamos
color al cielo.

3
00:00:14,468 --> 00:00:17,901
Puedo modificar
el contexto de tu visión,

4
00:00:17,902 --> 00:00:19,829
para después, darle color al cielo.

Good luck.


 

Marie Rollet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Member (2016)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@Juan Mar 17, 2016

Thank you for this, this is great info about the transcript and translating the script first (or not translating).

I haven't got experience in this field, am based in the UK and work from English into French. As for the kind of material, I wouldn't know.

What puzzles me, is that I have no idea what is (if there is one) the basic rate. I understand that with experience you can ask more etc and accept that I will start at the bottom, but where do I start?? Is £4/audio minute (for example) ridiculously low or totally unrealistic? i.e am I undermining the whole subtitling profession by offering a ridiculous rate, or asking far too much and never getting the job?



[Edited at 2016-03-17 15:51 GMT]


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:12
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I don't do subtitling myself, but Mar 17, 2016

there have really been loads of discussions about this at Proz - it is a common topic, so I find it a bit hard to believe that you haven't found anything useful. Did you try a search for "subtitling rates"? Varying the search words may help, and perhaps try "transcription", which is not the same but somewhat related and could lead to more concrete information.

Another thing that may help: We have a long-time member here who has written quite a lot about subtitling, and here is his website:
http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/subtitling.html

He has also written loads about the topic in the forums here, so try looking up his posts by name. I think you may find further relevant information that way. There may also be relevant articles in the Proz Knowledge Base, but as I said, since I don't offer this service myself, I'm not sure about that. Perhaps more people will turn up who have actual experience with subtitling, but this may help a little.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You called my number? Mar 17, 2016

Woodstock wrote:

I don't do subtitling myself, but there have really been loads of discussions about this at Proz - it is a common topic, so I find it a bit hard to believe that you haven't found anything useful. Did you try a search for "subtitling rates"?


There are no standards for subtitling rates. On top of variations per language pair, in any specific pair it is quite normal (okay, you'll ask me to define 'normal' after I say it) to find 1:10 min:max ratios in pricing, as well as people doing it for free (aka fansubbers).

Quality also fluctuates on Hawaiian surf waves.

I began to translate video in 1987, for dubbing only. Those were the days of analog video tape. Subtitling then required at least a U-Matic or later a Betacam editing suite, a Char Generator, and a Genlock. Such equipment was not affordable by an occasional hobbyist.

When I got into translation for subtitling in 2004, video was already digital. Any plain-vanilla PC could do the job from start to end, with superb freeware. It's just a matter of having time and patience... and skill, of course! ... but this last item is what will make the entire difference in quality.


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:12
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Ha! I was hoping you would show up... Mar 17, 2016

@José Henrique Lamensdorf

I sent you a telepathic message to come to this thread in the Proz forum.icon_wink.gif


 

Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:12
French to Spanish
+ ...
@ Chère Marie Mar 17, 2016

Just this, with all respect to you and Maestro José:

If you have no experience, just don't even quote.

It's like me quoting for translating an off-shore gas contract between Gulf and Exxon.

Subtitling is a very specific field -as all other translation fields- that needs, among other skills, special softwares you need to dominate very well.

It took to all of us a long time to get where we are.

Donc, acte.

Good luck.


 

Marie Rollet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Member (2016)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@Woodstock Mar 17, 2016

yes, I did find threads and discussions on the forum and online but I could only find any with concrete information dating to 2006 or so, and I expect rates will have changed since then.

Thanks for the information provided though! all usefulicon_smile.gif


 

Marie Rollet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Member (2016)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@José Henrique Lamensdorf Mar 17, 2016

Many thanks for the information!

very useful threads and interesting website!

thanks


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Time is relative Mar 17, 2016

Juan Jacob wrote:

It took to all of us a long time to get where we are.


I was certainly lucky. I was translating and DTP'ing the support materials for a video-based training programs distributor. The big boss there was the real master in translation for dubbing. One day he challenged me... Would you like to try translating a video for dubbing? He quickly showed me how he did it, I adapted his method, and took a shot.

Next news came from a girl in his dubbing studio. She told me, "You must be really good. He's been doing it himself alone since he founded the company, which has grown, and now needs him full-time at the helm. He tried some 30 translators, and had to burn the midnight oil to fix them himself. Yours was dubbed exactly the way you brought it, nothing was changed and it came out great." This was the start of a great partnership that lasted over two decades.

I didn't know I had that natural talent, but practice makes perfection. Is it a miracle?
I don't think so. Considering what I could understand from Google's translation from German, Claudia Hirschfeld's grandparents gave her an organ when she was a small girl, and she learned to play it on her own. Of course, I guess she studied music later.

Anyway, that was all I could do in 1987 through 2004, translating video for dubbing. They had me try translating for subtitling (of which that client still knows nothing - I do it for him), and the result was ghastly.

In 2004, another client approached me with a large subtitling request, and explained why - on account of the subject - I had to be the one to do it.

By then, there was already enough info on the web, so I read a lot, discovered the basic difference in mindset for dubbing (priority to metrics) and subtitling (conciseness), developed it, and in a few months I was doing the entire subtitling job alone... from a VHS tape all the way to an interactive subtitled DVD.

While my very first video translation for dubbing is still running somewhere, it took me 17 years to cross the border into subtitling, and maybe I would like to redo some videos I subtitled in the first two years or so.

Is either one, dub/sub translation, more difficult than the other? I don't think so, however each one takes a completely different mindset.

I must admit that my productivity in subtitling is quite low, compared to some colleagues, however I strive to make the final quality worth the extra time and consequently cost. Been successful so far, but mostly kept out of the TV/movies circuit on account of price.


 

deryaun (X)  Identity Verified
Turkey
English to Turkish
Pricing: Cost of Survival vs Freebee for doing something you enjoy? Mar 18, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Juan Jacob wrote:

It took to all of us a long time to get where we are.


I was certainly lucky. I was translating and DTP'ing the support materials for a video-based training programs distributor. The big boss there was the real master in translation for dubbing. One day he challenged me... Would you like to try translating a video for dubbing? He quickly showed me how he did it, I adapted his method, and took a shot.

Next news came from a girl in his dubbing studio. She told me, "You must be really good. He's been doing it himself alone since he founded the company, which has grown, and now needs him full-time at the helm. He tried some 30 translators, and had to burn the midnight oil to fix them himself. Yours was dubbed exactly the way you brought it, nothing was changed and it came out great." This was the start of a great partnership that lasted over two decades.

I didn't know I had that natural talent, but practice makes perfection. Is it a miracle?
I don't think so. Considering what I could understand from Google's translation from German, Claudia Hirschfeld's grandparents gave her an organ when she was a small girl, and she learned to play it on her own. Of course, I guess she studied music later.

Anyway, that was all I could do in 1987 through 2004, translating video for dubbing. They had me try translating for subtitling (of which that client still knows nothing - I do it for him), and the result was ghastly.

In 2004, another client approached me with a large subtitling request, and explained why - on account of the subject - I had to be the one to do it.

By then, there was already enough info on the web, so I read a lot, discovered the basic difference in mindset for dubbing (priority to metrics) and subtitling (conciseness), developed it, and in a few months I was doing the entire subtitling job alone... from a VHS tape all the way to an interactive subtitled DVD.

While my very first video translation for dubbing is still running somewhere, it took me 17 years to cross the border into subtitling, and maybe I would like to redo some videos I subtitled in the first two years or so.

Is either one, dub/sub translation, more difficult than the other? I don't think so, however each one takes a completely different mindset.

I must admit that my productivity in subtitling is quite low, compared to some colleagues, however I strive to make the final quality worth the extra time and consequently cost. Been successful so far, but mostly kept out of the TV/movies circuit on account of price.


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:12
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Trial and error Mar 18, 2016

Marie Rollet wrote:

Hi,

I have been looking for some indication as to what was the current going rate for subtitling work. Most forum entries/web links are dated and not very informative.

Could anyone with experience in this area give me an idea for acceptable rates for

transcription?

translation of a script and subtitling?

transcription, translation and subtitling?

I had a few requests but am worried I'll quote either way too high or way too low...


Any help would be appreciated!

Many thanks


Do a test run yourself. Try transcribing, translating and subtitling some audio and video and see what you think. How much would you have to charge for it to be worthwhile? How much of a discount do you want to give on that amount as an investment in your learning curve? Personally I do think €4/minute is way too low. I think if you subtitle at that rate you'll burn out pretty quick. But then again I do know a whole group of subtitlers that work at rates lower than that.

Scripts aren't always necessary but I do have one serious client who specializes in post-production and always wants a script in the source language - for both dubbing, which I can understand, and subtitling, which I find less logical but he pays extra for it so it's not really any of my business.

José is the go-to for this topic and, probably quite wisely, cites the time ratio rather than a specific rate. But, to cite an actual number, I don't think it makes sense to subtitle for anything under €10/minute. That's for easy corporate videos. I think rates for TV/film should be much higher but it would appear that, as with literary translation, they often aren't. I can confirm that there are EN-FR clients with the budget for at least €10/minute for subtitling (without transcription).

Lastly, this question does seem to get asked here at least once a month, which means there really is a lot of useful information on the subject, you just have to work out how to navigate the Proz forums, which is easier said than done.


 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:12
German to Swedish
+ ...
Yes but Mar 18, 2016

Juan Jacob wrote:

Having a spotting list like this is 50% of job done:

1
00:00:06,342 --> 00:00:08,517
Como nosotros le damos
el color al cielo,

(...)



Indeed, but since language structures differ, and a lot of the "art" of subtitling lies in timing and subtitle division, the quality will be worse than doing it from scratch.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Cryptic message Mar 18, 2016

HUSEYIN DERYA UN wrote:

Pricing: Cost of Survival vs Freebee for doing something you enjoy?


I think I didn't understand the message clearly.

Anyway I think pricing is a matter of cost/benefit on both sides.

"Rates" are merely a convenience for informing the buyer how much they'll spend per unit they'll get. The cost-wise burden of uncertainty is on the vendor's side, while the burden of quality stays on the buyer's side.

Let's take an analogy... a taxi meter. It charges the same per mile/km, regardless of if it's a steep uphill (fuel) winding (labor) road or a straight, smooth downhill stretch. It also charges the same per minute of idling time, regardless of whether it's in a traffic jam (engine running = fuel consumption) or a parking lot (engine off; labor taking a nap) while the client shops for groceries, whatever.

The buyer will choose to buy from the lowest rate they can get which - at the same time - offers an acceptable cost/benefit ratio. In other words, some point on the continuum between cheap crap and expensive gold, in the hope the chosen vendor is not too far from the line between these extremes, which is not always necessarily straight.

The vendor/translator/subtitle must offer a cost/benefit ratio that is high enough to make it worth their while, and also low enough to take up most of their working time.

This is the delicate rates balance in any professional endeavor. Fun should not be an essential condition in a job, because if it were, the incumbent would stop working any time when the fun were removed.

Many translators dream about getting paid to translate and subtitle those movies they love to watch. Quite honestly, these are not so many, and a subtitler must face (and be willing to do) countless truly disgusting - and often tiresome - flicks to get one or another that is really pleasurable.


 

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 14:12
Estonian to English
+ ...
EN-FR Mar 20, 2016

English to French is a very specific field in subtitling.
Subtitlers in France have the best copyright protection and good trade union support - this has managed to keep the rates there higher than anywhere else in the world.

Compared to 2006, subtitling rates have fallen 2-3 times for most languages. In France, quite possibly, there has been movement in the upward direction. Big subtitling companies are trying to push rates to EUR 3-5 per minute for the most expensive languages (French, German, Scandinavian, Dutch) and for the most part have managed with the exception of French.

As an EN-FR translator based in the UK, your most likely niche would be undermining the competition - getting work for lower rates than in trade union supported France and without the tedious copyright protection.

Forget about transcription - this is handled by machines or in India/Philippines (English) and any French-speaking forner colony (French). You will not be able to compete with those rates.


 
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