Experience share and a question on "time coding" work
Thread poster: Lifeng Li

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
Apr 4

Hello,

I'm a subtitler with 5 years of experience, but new to the global market.
After joined ProZ in last December, I read lots of posts in this Subtitling forum, it really helped me a lot, thanks for all the old members and professionals' sharing and advice.


1. I like to do the time coding/spotting work very much (I have an IT and Audio Engineer background) and developed some techniques using assisted software and hardware, which can make the work fast and accurate at the same time. I want to discuss it with you guys, see if it can be improved, or I may give you some help on time coding.

This is a general introduction of my methods, looking forward to your feedback.



2. (I don't know if it's appropriate to ask the following question here, if it's not I'll edit it.)

I am a subtitle translator, and I'm also looking for time coding only work, which means I only do the time coding, other people do the translation.
In China, these two types of work are usually separately done by freelancers.

I saw many global companies give subtitlers time-coded text, so subtitlers only need to do the translation work. I want o know is it a common case for the work?

And in many other cases, the work is done online or using company self-developed software, so subtitlers can't use their own software and techniques.
Therefore I want to ask how many opportunities are there for time coding only work?

And is it possible to work with other subtitlers who are not good at time coding? (Of course, it should abide by NDA on outsourcing.)
And what the percentage of subtitlers need this kind of service?

Any reply is greatly appreciated.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:05
English to German
+ ...
... Apr 4

Lifeng Li wrote:

I saw many global companies give subtitlers time-coded text, so subtitlers only need to do the translation work. I want o know is it a common case for the work?



I do a lot of English>German subtitle translation (film, TV series). I work off of timed English templates only, and this is the way it's done for most languages, as far as I know -- an English timed template is created (regardless what the actual source language of the media is), and all other languages use this as their base, adjusting the timing as needed for their individual requirements.

I have no idea where or by whom the English timed templates get created.


 

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
case for time coding work Apr 4

Jan Truper wrote:

I do a lot of English>German subtitle translation (film, TV series). I work off of timed English templates only, and this is the way it's done for most languages, as far as I know -- an English timed template is created (regardless what the actual source language of the media is), and all other languages use this as their base, adjusting the timing as needed for their individual requirements.

I have no idea where or by whom the English timed templates get created.



Thank you for your reply.

Yes, I also work from timed English scripts, this is one of many different situations. And from what I know, most German films are provided with timed scripts or .srt files, that's very easy for translators to work on. But it is not always like this in other languages. For example, most scripts from the States I've seen have time codes only when speakers change, like this:

01:09:12 Narrator dialogue 1
01:09:20 A dialogue 2
01:09:23 B dialogue 3
01:09:32 Narrator dialogue 4
01:09:55 C dialogue 5

Each dialogue contains several sentences, so we must split them into subtitle lines, which means someone needs to do the time coding work.


 

Sarper Aman  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:05
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Automation? Apr 5

Hello Li,

When you say, you "developed some techniques using assisted software and hardware", you mean automation? Like, did you automate the subtitle creating process?

I've been working for 3 years as subtitle translator, I've worked in maybe 3 projects, tops, where there were no templates so I had to create from scratch. I recently came across with a company called Day Translations. They were looking for "subtitlers", not translators, someone who will create subtitle events/box. You can check their website.

I tried to follow the link for your methods but it was Chinese.

[Edited at 2019-04-05 07:25 GMT]


 

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the company information. :-D Apr 7

Sarper Aman wrote:

When you say, you "developed some techniques using assisted software and hardware", you mean automation? Like, did you automate the subtitle creating process?

I've been working for 3 years as subtitle translator, I've worked in maybe 3 projects, tops, where there were no templates so I had to create from scratch. I recently came across with a company called Day Translations. They were looking for "subtitlers", not translators, someone who will create subtitle events/box. You can check their website.

I tried to follow the link for your methods but it was Chinese.



Some methods are similar to automation, automation is more complicated, needs programming. For example, if the software can do "sync subtitles to hardsub snapping to frame" automatically, I think it is automation, or "remove all the gaps less than 500ms between subtitles and make them continuous".

These techniques I use are simple keyboard/mouse customization and macros, it focuses on how to simplify input operation, reduce your finger fatigue.

There are many small techniques used in different situations, do you have a specific question on one topic? Which subtitling software do you use? I'll try to explain, maybe I'll record a video, it's easier to explain.


 

Sarper Aman  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:05
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Hold & Drag Apr 7

I use Subtitle Edit Pro for Mac. I bought it like $30. Except cloud-based enterprise softwares I've been using, it's the best subtitling software I've ever seen. Flaws? sure. But creating subtitles is super easy. You just hold and drag the mouse on waveform, that's it. Like, drawing a rectangular on Word etc. And this is all I need. Also, while the video is playing, hitting space bar marks the in-time and hitting it again marks the out-time. It's also super easy. But I use mouse, hold & drag.

 

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
Cases when accurate time coding is needed. Apr 11

Sarper Aman wrote:

I use Subtitle Edit Pro for Mac. I bought it like $30. Except cloud-based enterprise softwares I've been using, it's the best subtitling software I've ever seen. Flaws? sure. But creating subtitles is super easy. You just hold and drag the mouse on waveform, that's it. Like, drawing a rectangular on Word etc. And this is all I need. Also, while the video is playing, hitting space bar marks the in-time and hitting it again marks the out-time. It's also super easy. But I use mouse, hold & drag.



Yes, I know most subtitlers use a mouse create/adjust time codes, it's very easy and fast. And both Subtitle Edit and Aegisub are excellent software on this work. It's good enough for ordinary work.

But I think using this method, the time codes are not accurate enough. Maybe it's because my habit formed in audio post-production work, I tend to do the work frame by frame. I'll give two example cases to explain why.
Please be more patient to read the following paragraphs, it's a little complicated.



1. When you want to "snap" subtitles to scene changes (in Subtitle Edit) or keyframes (in Aegisub).

I don't know how to exactly describe this, so I'll use a video demo https://youtu.be/k28tgb7CoQo and explain with screenshots.

I'm using Aegisub in the demo. These two red arrows pointed frames are the scene change frames or keyframes. The first one is the end frame of one subtitle, the second one is the beginning of the following subtitle. These two frames are "snapped" with subtitles.

In Aegisub, this is called "snapping".
There is also an automation function in Aegisub, which can automatically do this.

You can set the time thresholds to decide how "close" between a subtitle start/end frame and a video keyframe should be snapped.

If you watch the video start from 1:05, it's the playback of the completed time coded subtitles, I think you'll understand. In this example work, most of the subtitles are snapped to scene changes.

Considering the audiences' watching experience, I feel it's better when the subtitles are snapped to scene changes, especially when scene changes are very quick and frequent, such as in the case above - a trailer.



There are also other very useful functions in the "Timing Post-Processor" option, which allow you to automatically adjust time codes very easily.

However the software generated scene changes in Subtitle Edit or keyframes in Aegisub are not accurate enough with video (sometimes generate more, sometimes less), so the subtitler or the "timecoders" still need to do the snapping work manually.



2. When you want to snap subtitles to the hardsubs in a video.

The example video is here https://youtu.be/DMTXfg6HGdc
The English lyric subtitles in this video are hardsubbed, means they are already encoded into the video. The timecoder needs to make the translation subtitles sync to the hardsubs exactly by frame.



In these 2 cases, I think we need to use a keyboard or other professional input devices, and use special techniques to do the work. It becomes more like video editing.

I don't know if I am too picky or hardcore on this.
And I don't know if it's going off topic to discuss it into such technical details here. But I think subtitling is a special type of translation, it requires some audiovisual technical skills. I'd like to offer a solution option in case of such situations.

Thank you for your patience in reading.

[Edited at 2019-04-11 05:39 GMT]


 

Sarper Aman  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:05
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Shot Changes Apr 11

Thanks for all the effort!

Yes, shot changes are a different story. I'm working mostly on vendor's software so tech teams are taking care of it. But sometimes when I do, that's when I follow Netflix style for shot changes. After I roughly created a subtitle I do fine tuning if a shot change conflicts with a subtitle. I don't know why but I found Aegisub too complicated. Probably, I don't know how to use it. Just to clarify, I'm using Subtitle Edit Pro, not Subtitle Edit. It's from China, latter from Denmark.

You're right, there's a technical side of subtitling. but I think, studios prefer localization vendors, not individual translator. So, technical parts stay with tech teams. I'm relatively new in this business but like I said, I did only 2-3 subtitling from scratch, without a template. I think you're right to be picky, it's a right way to do the timecoding. Thanks for all the info


 

Michel Virasolvy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:05
Member (2012)
English to French
A Time-coding Specialst? Apr 11

Just to share my own two cents on the forum and answer the questions.

I saw many global companies give subtitlers time-coded text, so subtitlers only need to do the translation work. I want to know is it a common case for the work?

Unfortunately yes. By default, subtitling work includes two steps: spotting (timecoding) and translation (+ transcription sometimes). However, in order to save time and money on the timecoding step, a number of agencies basically sends the English subtitle file and asks the subtitler to translate the subs without altering the timecodes. It's actually bad practice but it's very common, yes.

Therefore I want to ask how many opportunities are there for time coding only work?

In France, the last report on post-production highlighted a need for more people with timecoding skills but a reluctance to really put the money on the table to do it. I've been subtitling for over a decade already, and a good chunk of my clients still opt for the common "translate the English track" to not pay for the timecoding. That's still up for debate but I'm not sure anyone can fully rely on this skill to earn a living in my language pair.

And in many other cases, the work is done online or using company self-developed software, so subtitlers can't use their own software and techniques.

A reason for that is to strip the subtitler off any right over their work. By having the job done online, the subtitling vendor is explicitely forced to give up on any royalty fees that would otherwise be due to them in the case of documentaries or works of fiction. Nothing offline means no bargaining chip, no proof that you worked on anything, no compliance to your Terms of Service for the agency, you might even be given the boot and all you'll be able to provide in a court will be easily-dismissed screenshots. In other words, it's not to prevent you from using your own software and techniques, it's to secure their assets.

Is it possible to work with other subtitlers who are not good at time coding? (Of course, it should abide by NDA on outsourcing.) And what the percentage of subtitlers need this kind of service?

I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of professional subtitlers are quite knowlegeable with timecoding. The question is more, if this is your main occupation, are you cheaper, faster, more accurate than an experienced subtitler doing it for a living? If you work with a colleague, will you be available and answer at any time of the day/night to do that part of the job? I just mentioned in a previous topic my standard 5.10 EUR per source minute rate, already considered by some to be very high. If I tell you that 1.70 EUR of this rate goes to my proofreading colleague(s), what part would you charge to handle the timecoding only?

Now, when it comes to technique, I mainly use Subtitle Edit and I don't rely much on automation. I used to use Aegisub for years but at it turns out, timecoding with Aegisub requires a lot of mouse-based tweaking and the accuracy is 10⁻² second at best whereas Subtitle Edit delivers a 10⁻³ second accuracy combined with keyboard shortcuts and frame interval options to really streamline this step. Now, Aegisub does provide other features to handle karaoke, LUA scripting and caption positioning, it's also slightly more accurate for frame-based timecoding (typically OSDs) so overall these two are really good tools.

To note, that's only my take on this step. Subtitling without spotting is just your basic literary translation, the tech part is also a fun part when you properly planned the job, I can't really see the point outsourcing it if you're a subtitler but if there's a need, at least you're at the right place, Lifeng.


 

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
Ah, I did mix Subtitle Edit with Subtitle Edit Pro. Apr 15

Sarper Aman wrote:

Thanks for all the effort!

Yes, shot changes are a different story. I'm working mostly on vendor's software so tech teams are taking care of it. But sometimes when I do, that's when I follow Netflix style for shot changes. After I roughly created a subtitle I do fine tuning if a shot change conflicts with a subtitle. I don't know why but I found Aegisub too complicated. Probably, I don't know how to use it. Just to clarify, I'm using Subtitle Edit Pro, not Subtitle Edit. It's from China, latter from Denmark.

You're right, there's a technical side of subtitling. but I think, studios prefer localization vendors, not individual translator. So, technical parts stay with tech teams. I'm relatively new in this business but like I said, I did only 2-3 subtitling from scratch, without a template. I think you're right to be picky, it's a right way to do the timecoding. Thanks for all the info



I don't know Subtitle Edit Pro before, I watched the Subtitle Edit Pro video tutorial, it is super easy to create subtitles. If one mainly uses a mouse to create subtitles, I think it's better than Aegisub or Subtitle Edit. Thank you for the information and thank you for the encouragement.

But if you follow Netflix style, do you use the mouse to do the fine tuning? For example, there are many cases you need to make the 2 frames gaps, as I mentioned in another post about shot change - https://www.proz.com/forum/subtitling/333211-shot_change.html#2788424 Is there an automation function to do this in Subtitle Edit Pro? I haven't done this before, but I think I can find a way to do it in Aegisub and Subtitle Edit. If you need it, I'll post the methods here.


 

Lifeng Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:05
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
the reason I like to do time coding Apr 15

Michel Virasolvy wrote:

Just to share my own two cents on the forum and answer the questions.
...


Thank you for your detailed reply. It is very valuable advice for me.

I also do the translation. I used to work mainly as a QCer, so I do translation proofreading and timecodes adjusting at the same time. The problem is if you want to have a better quality translation, sometimes you need to resplit lines according to the target language.
And indeed, it is impossible to do that on an online platform.

Maybe I can't do it for living, I still love to study it. I think it's because I have an engineering mindset, I care a lot about the tech part. I think I am fast and accurate on this job, as you can see in my demo videos. If someone can do the same job faster using different methods, I'm very happy to learn from him/her.

But I believe the fun part of subtitling is in translation.
My interest in subtitling is more on the film side than the translation side, this is why although the subtitling rate is much less than other types of translation, I still like to do it.




Michel Virasolvy wrote:

A reason for that is to strip the subtitler off any right over their work. By having the job done online, the subtitling vendor is explicitely forced to give up on any royalty fees that would otherwise be due to them in the case of documentaries or works of fiction. Nothing offline means no bargaining chip, no proof that you worked on anything, no compliance to your Terms of Service for the agency, you might even be given the boot and all you'll be able to provide in a court will be easily-dismissed screenshots. In other words, it's not to prevent you from using your own software and techniques, it's to secure their assets.


About the subtitler's right, I read in another post
jbjb wrote:

At least I admire French for being the only language in the world where the translator's credit is mandatory, even for international companies who have never added translator credits for any other language, ever.
- https://www.proz.com/forum/subtitling/52756-[subtitling_rates]_per_minute_rates-page5.html#2586739
Is this true? Is it the same with those agencies with online subtitling platforms?
As far as I can remember, I did see many French movies with the subtitler's name in the credits.

I can see you care about the right of subtitlers. When I first entered this industry, I also cared about the right of authorship, but after a few years, I knew it is almost impossible to have it in China in almost all subtitling works. And they actually laughed at me when I asked for it. Now I almost forget those hopes. I think we should fight for it and many other rights. But it's better to start a new post on it.






About the two software, I hardly use the mouse (except the scroll function) when I do time coding work in Aegisub and Subtitle Edit.
I don't understand this part "...combined with keyboard shortcuts and frame interval options to really streamline this step", can you explain more on this if you have time?


 

Sarper Aman  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:05
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Weak fine tuning Apr 16

You're right. It's weak in terms of fine tuning. And you can't see shot changes in Subtitle Edit Pro. I recently found out Ooona online toolkit. It's pro with automated 2-frame gap. Monthly subscription. Might be considered if you have steady direct clients. I havent any so far thou 2-3 years ago, an independent movie maker approached me for the subtitling but they offered me to pay when they earn money, quoting "It may take few years for the film to be famous".
Lifeng Li wrote:

Sarper Aman wrote:

Thanks for all the effort!

Yes, shot changes are a different story. I'm working mostly on vendor's software so tech teams are taking care of it. But sometimes when I do, that's when I follow Netflix style for shot changes. After I roughly created a subtitle I do fine tuning if a shot change conflicts with a subtitle. I don't know why but I found Aegisub too complicated. Probably, I don't know how to use it. Just to clarify, I'm using Subtitle Edit Pro, not Subtitle Edit. It's from China, latter from Denmark.

You're right, there's a technical side of subtitling. but I think, studios prefer localization vendors, not individual translator. So, technical parts stay with tech teams. I'm relatively new in this business but like I said, I did only 2-3 subtitling from scratch, without a template. I think you're right to be picky, it's a right way to do the timecoding. Thanks for all the info



I don't know Subtitle Edit Pro before, I watched the Subtitle Edit Pro video tutorial, it is super easy to create subtitles. If one mainly uses a mouse to create subtitles, I think it's better than Aegisub or Subtitle Edit. Thank you for the information and thank you for the encouragement.

But if you follow Netflix style, do you use the mouse to do the fine tuning? For example, there are many cases you need to make the 2 frames gaps, as I mentioned in another post about shot change - https://www.proz.com/forum/subtitling/333211-shot_change.html#2788424 Is there an automation function to do this in Subtitle Edit Pro? I haven't done this before, but I think I can find a way to do it in Aegisub and Subtitle Edit. If you need it, I'll post the methods here.



[Edited at 2019-04-16 07:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-04-16 07:38 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-04-16 07:49 GMT]


 

Verónica Díaz
Spain
Local time: 02:05
English to Spanish
Question about time coding May 10

I'm currently working in subtitles spotting. I had to do a QA test for a company in which I was asked to review the subtitles taking into account Netflix specifications. I did so using Subtitle Edit, trying to respect that the in-cue and out-cue were snapped to the shot change. However when they sent me the results of the test it said that most of my in-cue and out-cues were not snapped to the SC. I was a bit confused, checked if I hadn't understood Netflix rules right and finally found that EZTitles had a function that can check this. I downloaded the demo version and could see that, indeed, most subtitles weren't right, and the reason why is that in Subtitle Edit I couldn't get the right time for the shot change, at least not in the same exact time as EZTitles does.
This is how times looked like in the EZTitles correction
4
00:00:17,440 --> 00:00:19,600
6
00:00:22,200 --> 00:00:25,440

And these were mine when using Subtitler Edit and handling Shot changes moving manually the frames while I watched the video.
4
00:00:17,459 --> 00:00:19,527
6
00:00:22,221 --> 00:00:25,367

Therefore they were not accurate according to the company.

So my question is if there is any way I can get to use Subtitle Edit to achieve the same results, as it is the editor I prefer to use. I've been trying with what you mentioned about the automation function in Aegisub, but I'm not sure I get it or if it can be useful for that purpose.

I'd also be grateful if you could tell me if there is any free editor with which I can get those results in relation to snapping to scene changes or if there is one that I can use to check if it is correct.

Thank you in advance and thanks for the information that you have already shared.

Verónica


 

Sarper Aman  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:05
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Turkish
+ ...
FPS May 14

Not quite sure what causes this exactly but I've once read in the forums that this sort of errors can occur when the deafult frame rates of the softwares (yours and company's) do not match. You may need to adjust frame rates in Subtitle Edit, I don't know if it has such a feature thou.

Hope that helps.


 


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