Subtitling test
Thread poster: Danimar

Danimar
Italy
Local time: 23:24
English to Italian
Jul 7

Hello,
I recently sent my CV as a subtitler to some agencies.
One of them, based in Italy, answered me, showing their interest and asking me to subtitle a video of 20 minute as a test.
Don't you think 20 minutes is too much? What's the avarage lenght of a subtitling test I should expect?
Thanks for your help.


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ITProsSubtitles
Italy
Local time: 23:24
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...


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Absolutely! Way too much. Jul 7

A two to four minute of video sample should be more than enough to evaluate spotting proficiency and translation skills. Even a 10 minute test would still be an outrageous request in my opinion. Sounds fishy...

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Kalyanasundar subramaniam
India
Local time: 03:54
Tamil to English
+ ...
Subtitling test Jul 8

I also feel 20 minutes test is really horrid . The most reasonable duration should be only 2 to 3 minutes for subtitling test. People ask for a higher duration test because they have no idea as to how much time it takes to subtitle a 20 minute duration video or short movie. To do a reasonably good quality job of subtitling a 20 minute duration dialogue oriented video would easily take 7 to 8 hours .No one would wish to spend 8 hours of their precious time for a non remunerative assessment work.

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Michel Virasolvy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:24
Member (2012)
English to French
Definitely too lengthy Jul 8

You need to earn a living and only your current projects can pay the bills, so a 20 min file that will probably crush a good amount of hours of your time is pretty much the same as a consistent money loss, even with the prospect of possible income later on. Your typical subtitling test is often a 3 to 4 min file with next to no OSD text in it.

If Danimar doesn't mind I'd like to use this little topic to bring another question up. I sometimes stumble upon subtitling agencies who really focus on that WinCAPS software. Which is stupid in my view, everything WinCAPS can do I can do with Subtitle Edit or Aegisub and it doesn't require a massive 430 EUR per year subscription fees for a proprietary software which can only be installed on a single computer. There must be WinCAPS users on this forum so I'd like to understand what are the actual benefits of this software.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:24
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Why not... Jul 8

let you do their entire video for free?

Some agencies have become truly imprudent recently. Don't they know that translators are business people whose time is money?

If you have the time to work for free (which I doubt) and if you will received continuous work from then, you might do it. It might be better though to suggest a 2 minutes' test.

@ Michel

Yes, I've noticed that, too. And one of those agencies was represented by someone who specializes in sales. They offer continuous work, promise a long-term collaboration, IF you buy their CAT tool.


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ITProsSubtitles
Italy
Local time: 23:24
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
@Michael Jul 8

I don't use Wincaps and I don't like agencies imposing one software over others, but there are in fact things you can't do with free tools like the ones you mentioned e.g. putting subtitles on top wherever needed and exporting files ready for video editing suites such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere just to mention a few. If you're in professional subtitling, you'll have to go with professional software at some point. That doesn't mean Wincaps is the only one. In fact I don't even think it's the most functional...

quote]Michel Virasolvy wrote:

You need to earn a living and only your current projects can pay the bills, so a 20 min file that will probably crush a good amount of hours of your time is pretty much the same as a consistent money loss, even with the prospect of possible income later on. Your typical subtitling test is often a 3 to 4 min file with next to no OSD text in it.

If Danimar doesn't mind I'd like to use this little topic to bring another question up. I sometimes stumble upon subtitling agencies who really focus on that WinCAPS software. Which is stupid in my view, everything WinCAPS can do I can do with Subtitle Edit or Aegisub and it doesn't require a massive 430 EUR per year subscription fees for a proprietary software which can only be installed on a single computer. There must be WinCAPS users on this forum so I'd like to understand what are the actual benefits of this software. [/quote]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:24
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Most of it depends on the clientele Jul 8

IT Pros Subs wrote:

I don't use Wincaps and I don't like agencies imposing one software over others, but there are in fact things you can't do with free tools like the ones you mentioned e.g. putting subtitles on top wherever needed and exporting files ready for video editing suites such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere just to mention a few. If you're in professional subtitling, you'll have to go with professional software at some point. That doesn't mean Wincaps is the only one. In fact I don't even think it's the most functional...


Subtitling is often seen as one whole homogeneous industry. Such an assertion resembles looking at "medicine" without differentiating GPs from surgeons, researchers, etc., thinking that a family doctor can handle it all, just like a translator/subtitler covering all possible cases.

I cover different subtitling specialties, perhaps like the army doctor taken with the troops to some faraway country, so I've seen some differences. Let's leave medicine aside and check a few quite different cases.


Subtitling "corporate video"

The client here is often the local subsidiary of a global corporation whose business dos NOT include video production. Actually, they don't know squat about video beyond watching.

In most cases, their WHQ commissioned their PR or advertising agency, who commissioned a video producer to make am institutional, product launch, or training video. All a subsidiary overseas will have is the finished video for local use, subtitled (or sometimes dubbed) in the local language.

Their requests usually involve a complete job, i.e pristine finished subtitled videos, for specific or general use. They may ask for things like, among others:
- FHD (subtitled) video for showing on a wall-sized screen at trade fairs
- HD (subtitled) video to make available on their web site via YouTube, Vimeo or otherwise
- SD video for download and/or on authored interactive DVDs for distribution
- editing to replace onscreen titles, charts, etc. with their translations
- editing to replace PPT-like screens with their translations
- just the subtitles on a SRT file for a skilled operator to play the video with them using VideoLAN VLC
- just the subtitles on SRT/SSA/ASS files to upload to YouTube

Of course, as long as they get what they want, they couldn't care less about what software is used.

For the subtitling translator working in this market:
- It is very rare to have a script available
- It is normal to ask the client to review the subtitles before finishing
- Minor changes after final delivery are requested now and then
- Usually there is NOT a steady demand for this kind of work from the same client
- Quality must be spotless
- Rates can be considerably higher than for other markets


Small video producers

These will often require only the translation for subtitling. Everything else will be handled by their internal salaried staff.
I use Sony Vegas for video editing, a "cheaper" version of it. The top version of the same program does automatic subtitling from a SRT-like file, but it costs AFAICR 6x more. I tried subtitling with this cheaper version by overlaying a chroma-key "blank" video with the subtitles, and results were awful.
I asked most of these clients I've had how they do subtitling, and they told me they put the subs one by one, as overlaid text, using Final Cut or Adobe Premiere. My take is that they also have the "cheaper" versions - if they exist - of these programs.
Their budget is usually small, they don't do ADR, so the direct sound is often terrible... and we have to translate that!
They requests are usually for translation into a foreign language, for distribution overseas, so they need grammar-wise perfect text. They usually don't understand the target language.

For the subtitling translator working in this market:
- There is nobody to help you with target-language terminology
- The script is available sometimes, but it does NOT often match the actual final edit
- Turnaround time is often close to or beyond impossible
- There is some pressure to lower rates, but not beyond the point where it impairs quality
- They usually request your output in plain text on a Word DOC file, sometimes Excel XLS, so the software you use is irrelevant
- Demand is completely erratic, usually small


Large video distributors

These are the BIG clients, having constant demand, and therefore many try to push rates down.

The BEST among them are global operators, aware of local circumstances, so these will be more flexible to shorten payment terms when the translator is located in countries where interest rates are relatively very high (e.g. Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Ukraine, Belarus).

There are always the bottom-feeders who adopt a one-rate-fits-all stance, and long payment terms. They believe that insisting in demanding high quality over time will eventually turn fansubbers into professional subtitlers.

As these will be more often than not subtitling the same videos in umpteen languages, they prefer to save by using templates, which are pre-timed, pre-spotted transcripts in the source language. All the translator has to do is to translate.

The BEST ones will have invested in developing their own software, which is often compatible with popular subtitle file formats, or conversion methods that will allow translators to work with the market-standard MS-Word.

The so-so ones will demand the use of pricey software, capable of generating subtitles in unique proprietary formats, having built-in quality-ensuring features, so that they can merely dump the files they get into their system, and the result will be okay to a certain level. Such software also handles with relative ease subtitle displacement all over the screen, if required.

It's a matter of calculating the cost/benefit of investing in such pricey software, considering the demand volume and the rates offered. It is worth mentioning that if any subtitling company tries to SELL their software up-front, without any commitment to the payback it will yield (i.e. demand), it is an obvious scam.


Last but not least, there are other types of video clientele around.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
French to English
Agency out for a freebie Jul 8

Trust your instinct. You obviously have an idea of how much work is involved here. It is also a specialist skill and generally requires specialist tools. You then obviously need knowledge of the area concerned.

20 minutes? Imagine, you do the "test", they say, "Sorry, no thanks". And they've got the job for free.
I wouldn't even offer to do a 2-minute test. These people are not trustworthy. Move on.

[Edited at 2017-07-08 22:40 GMT]


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Danimar
Italy
Local time: 23:24
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jul 9

Thanks for your answers!
I agree, it seems too much... Anyway, before refusing their offer, I'll try to negotiate for a shorter test, because they are proposing a long term cooperation.

As to Wincaps, well, it was interesting reading your opinions, because they also asked me if I can use it.
Actually, at the moment I only work with Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop, but I'm seriously thinking to buy a professional one and I'm looking more at Eztitles.


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:24
Member (2013)
English to Russian
- Jul 10

Danimar wrote:

Thanks for your answers!
I agree, it seems too much... Anyway, before refusing their offer, I'll try to negotiate for a shorter test, because they are proposing a long term cooperation.

As to Wincaps, well, it was interesting reading your opinions, because they also asked me if I can use it.
Actually, at the moment I only work with Aegisub and Subtitle Workshop, but I'm seriously thinking to buy a professional one and I'm looking more at Eztitles.



If you need a 5% discount for EZTitles, I can help you. Just shoot me a personal message.


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Sylvano
Local time: 23:24
English to French
The usual promise Jul 10

Danimar wrote: they are proposing a long term cooperation.


That's what all bad clients talk about right away. Crappy rate but huge volumes.


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