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[Subtitling Rates] per minute rates
Autor de la hebra: Karolis Butkevicius

BlanKspaCe  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:03
inglés al francés
thank you Sep 5, 2016

jbjb wrote:

Charge +50% for "no script". There's no need for transcription, when you don't have a script, you translate by ear. You wouldn't first transcribe the text and then translate it. It's like an interpreter saying that sorry, I have to type what you are saying first and then perform a written translation
There's no answer to your question for a turnaround time, it depends on the source material and your proficiency. What is the turnaround time for 1 page of text for a person who hasn't used TRADOS before and for a proficient user? Can be 6 hours for the newbie and 15 minutes for the professional. But nobody pays the newbie 20 times more because he is slow.
A proficient translator can do a 45-minute video in 3-8 hours, depending on the material. For a beginner, it can take 8-24 hours. As the rate is the same, you can expect your first subtiling jobs to be below minimum wage when you calculate working time. It will take months of regular jobs for your speed to improve, until the work becomes feasible.
The rate for English-French depends on the client. Major international companies are trying to cut the rate for all languages, including French, to USD 3 per minute, in France the trade unions suggest up to EUR 10-15 per minute.


Thank you for your answer!
So $3 per minute with a script should be enough at my level. Above all, I was afraid to offer too low a rate and become "unfair competition" when some companies are already trying to pay professionals less (from what I understood by reading this thread).
I will give it a try and see if I can pass the company test first.
I am very excited about learning new skills and now I feel a bit less lost. Thank you so much!

PS: I asked about transcription because I was also asked about rates for French transcripts...

[Edited at 2016-09-05 14:24 GMT]


 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 10:03
inglés al francés
still to low Sep 5, 2016

BlanKspaCe wrote:

So $3 per minute with a script should be enough at my level. Above all, I was afraid to offer too low a rate and become "unfair competition" when some companies are already trying to pay professionals less (from what I understood by reading this thread).
I will give it a try and see if I can pass the company test first.
I am very excited about learning new skills and now I feel a bit less lost. Thank you so much!


I am sorry, but $3 per video minute, even if you have a script and a template, is way too low. You're going to get $300 for a 100 minute film. Are you going to translate 2 films a week to make it (slightly) profitable ? I'm afraid to see the result...


Moazzam Ali
Matheus Chaud
Andrea Mihajlovic
 

BlanKspaCe  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:03
inglés al francés
is it? oops! Sep 5, 2016

Faustine Roux wrote:


I am sorry, but $3 per video minute, even if you have a script and a template, is way too low. You're going to get $300 for a 100 minute film. Are you going to translate 2 films a week to make it (slightly) profitable ? I'm afraid to see the result...


May I ask you what was your rate when you first started? I see that you have the same language pair as me!

Well seeing it plainly written like that $300 for a 100 minute film is indeed low (and I hope I won't get such big projects right away!)
Since I have never tackled subtitling before, I didn't want to ask for more that my worth at the moment as I will probably be slow at first. But I guess I should also take into account my growth potential as I am confident with my translation skills at least...

Again thank you for your input. I really appreciate being helped in this!


 

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 12:03
estonio al inglés
+ ...
French Sep 5, 2016

Yes, French is the most expensive language together with German, also Scandinavian and a few others. USD 3 per minute is what big international companies are trying to push all languages down to. It is not a livable wage for a translator in France and can be accepted either because of interest (i.e. you would be willing to translate fan subs for free anyway, so why not get at least some money) or by housewives/husbands who just have a lot of time to spare.
The rates for most French-based
... See more
Yes, French is the most expensive language together with German, also Scandinavian and a few others. USD 3 per minute is what big international companies are trying to push all languages down to. It is not a livable wage for a translator in France and can be accepted either because of interest (i.e. you would be willing to translate fan subs for free anyway, so why not get at least some money) or by housewives/husbands who just have a lot of time to spare.
The rates for most French-based (or Europe-based) companies are much better due to trade union pressure and make French one of the last languages in the world where professional translators can still make a living with subtitles. Scandinavia is an example where the rates have become so low across the board that an 8-hour working day with regular speed as a subtitle translator gives you just about the minimum wage of the country. So subtitle translation has become the work of mostly students, not professional translators. And of course there are people, if given a choice between dishwashing and subtitle translation for equal pay, would pick translation.

The way to make money with USD 3 per minute or minimum wage is to work more - as a subtitle translator, you can work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and earn more than a dishwasher who is usually bound by the 40-hour working week.
Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.
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Moazzam Ali
I am a user
 

BlanKspaCe  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:03
inglés al francés
I see... Sep 6, 2016

jbjb wrote:

Yes, French is the most expensive language together with German, also Scandinavian and a few others. USD 3 per minute is what big international companies are trying to push all languages down to. It is not a livable wage for a translator in France and can be accepted either because of interest (i.e. you would be willing to translate fan subs for free anyway, so why not get at least some money) or by housewives/husbands who just have a lot of time to spare.
The rates for most French-based (or Europe-based) companies are much better due to trade union pressure and make French one of the last languages in the world where professional translators can still make a living with subtitles. Scandinavia is an example where the rates have become so low across the board that an 8-hour working day with regular speed as a subtitle translator gives you just about the minimum wage of the country. So subtitle translation has become the work of mostly students, not professional translators. And of course there are people, if given a choice between dishwashing and subtitle translation for equal pay, would pick translation.

The way to make money with USD 3 per minute or minimum wage is to work more - as a subtitle translator, you can work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and earn more than a dishwasher who is usually bound by the 40-hour working week.
Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


I guess I will go for the second option as a newbie!
I may not be confident but I have pride in my work and I aim for a perfect balance between quality and quantity. I better get started then and learn fast! Thank you!


Hardeep Rajvansh
 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 10:03
inglés al francés
... Sep 6, 2016

jbjb wrote:

Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


A film in one or two days ? And good quality ?
So tell me, if you're going so fast, how do you translate puns, jokes, play on words, songs that rhyme, dialects, complicated jargon, slang? How many times do you revise your film to make sure you didn't miss something, that everything reads smoothly?
I suppose that's why most of the series and films translated by companies offering $3 per minute have most of their jokes mis/untranslated, have spelling mistakes all over the place, and have subtitles that are too fast to be read and that are quite bland.

But sure, let's just translate 1 hour a day, not care about what we're doing and earn minimum wage...


PS: this is a general "you", not specifically addressed to anyone in particular.


Matheus Chaud
 

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 12:03
estonio al inglés
+ ...
process Sep 7, 2016

Unfortunately the work process has changed to accommodate the lower rates.
First - not all projects contain puns, rhymes etc. I would say around 10-25% of all projects.
For slang, jargon, dialects you use your previous experience with similar situations. If you don't have it, tough luck.
Subtitle placement? Forget it. Translators are not allowed/encouraged to change timecodes or merge anything, sometimes the technical capability has been removed. Review your translations? On
... See more
Unfortunately the work process has changed to accommodate the lower rates.
First - not all projects contain puns, rhymes etc. I would say around 10-25% of all projects.
For slang, jargon, dialects you use your previous experience with similar situations. If you don't have it, tough luck.
Subtitle placement? Forget it. Translators are not allowed/encouraged to change timecodes or merge anything, sometimes the technical capability has been removed. Review your translations? Once - or leave it to the proofreader and hope for the best.
The quality of cheap translations varies of course - because many translators give up and new ones cannot be trained in subtitling. The main requirement for hiring is acceptance of the low rate. Translation quality comes second.
But it is possible to achieve quality even with a fast turnaround. Very hard for beginners but possible for professionals, should they choose to continue in that line of work.

The arrival of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon and all of those providers means that translation turnaround times have become very short. 2-3 days is the usual deadline for a feature. Companies have 2-3 weeks to translate 100 episodes of a series or a batch of 20-30-50 films.
So you either have 20-30-50 translators who can take one film each or five times fewer translators who can take five films each during the period.
The market situation has changed - materials are now uploaded to consumers in huge batches. This never happened in the earlier times - even if a company bought 50 titles for release on DVD/VHS, it would take them half a year to release them week by week (or for a movie channel to have 5-7 premiers a week).
But now Netflix/Hulu signs a contract for a year and has all the materials available immediately. The only thing missing is the translation and they are not going to wait 2-3 months to get it, they want it immediately, in a few weeks, days, minutes if possible. And the subtitle translation market has had to adjust to this.
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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
Francia
Local time: 11:03
Miembro 2009
francés al inglés
+ ...
Understanding rates and income Sep 8, 2016

BlanKspaCe wrote:

So $3 per minute with a script should be enough at my level.


When talking about lack of experience your level shouldn't affect the rate. Your level should only affect how long it takes you to complete the work or how much you have to pay to have it proofread/corrected before submission. This means that your income will still be lower than that of experienced professionals.

You're still undercutting if you accept a lower rate because you are inexperienced. You should start with the lowest reasonable rate but take more time over your work. Then you can increase your rate when you become an above-average professional in your field.


Andrea Mihajlovic
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
España
Miembro 2005
italiano al inglés
+ ...
Subtitling rates Sep 8, 2016

I don't do much subtitling work but this is how I calculated my rates based on the first job I did.

6.30 minutes of video took 2 ¼ hours to subtitle also doing the time code which would be €78,75 at my hourly rate (€35/h at the time).
So 6.30 minutes of video takes 135 mins to subtitle, 1 minute of video takes about 20 minutes to subtitle, 3 minutes of video takes 1 hour.

€35/h = 3 minutes of video = €12/minute of video

Rates for subtitling,
... See more
I don't do much subtitling work but this is how I calculated my rates based on the first job I did.

6.30 minutes of video took 2 ¼ hours to subtitle also doing the time code which would be €78,75 at my hourly rate (€35/h at the time).
So 6.30 minutes of video takes 135 mins to subtitle, 1 minute of video takes about 20 minutes to subtitle, 3 minutes of video takes 1 hour.

€35/h = 3 minutes of video = €12/minute of video

Rates for subtitling, (transcribing and translating + time code) €12 per minute of video

For a script I charge my usual per word rate.
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Sylvano
Local time: 11:03
inglés al francés
France, working speed, etc. Sep 8, 2016

jbjb wrote:

The way to make money with USD 3 per minute or minimum wage is to work more - as a subtitle translator, you can work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and earn more than a dishwasher who is usually bound by the 40-hour working week.
Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


Well, I seriously doubt one can deliver quality doing 4/5 films a week on a long term basis. Well, it depends on what you mean by quality, of course. But never mind, your demonstration definitely has other flaws in it :
- Will you really be able to secure a permanent steady work-flow as far as projects are concerned? I'm not sure many clients will give you 4/5 feature films to subtitle every single week of the year.
- Will you be able to stay alert (subtitling is an intellectually/mentally/sometimes physically demanding job) working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, cloistered at home, and/or so quickly you won't even have time to think about what you're writing/typing? (Good) translation for the screen definitely needs maturation of your lines and style, coming back to what you wrote earlier to find the right word or phrasing, etc.
- I may be an old-timer in the job (15-year career), but I can definitely deliver quality in a short time when necessary... but not in the long haul (see previous point) and mainly because I'd refuse to do so. It has to be the exception, because quality and accuracy are always at stake.
- Don't fantasize too much about France, as we do have what you have anywhere else: bad and unreliable clients, poor rates, very weak syndicates (which cannot, by the way, impose minimum rates, because it's illegal), not much consideration from the public and the government/administrations, acute competition among translators/young translators/would-be translators, growing competition from other countries, and so on. Maybe we have a strong tradition around art, cinema and droits d'auteur, but we still have to fight everyday to get good (or even decent) rates and work conditions. Translation for the screen is also quite ill in France, though not dead yet.


 

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 12:03
estonio al inglés
+ ...
France Sep 8, 2016

Sad to hear that things aren't that rosy in France - but it should still be one of the rosiest places for subtitling. Other places are just a lot worse. 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.

As for the other things - no, subtitling work is no longer a steady and reliable stream. Work is concentrated into frene
... See more
Sad to hear that things aren't that rosy in France - but it should still be one of the rosiest places for subtitling. Other places are just a lot worse. 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.

As for the other things - no, subtitling work is no longer a steady and reliable stream. Work is concentrated into frenetic 2-3 week (or more, depending on the project) periods, followed by a lull of 2-3 months until the next thing comes along. That's bad for everyone - translators, companies, clients. There is always either too much work or too little, 80% of the time too little. But when there is work, it is always too much to handle for anyone and quality suffers. You need a big client list - and hope that the frantic periods do not overlap - to have steady work.
On the bright side, you can use those lulls to recover for the next frantic period.
That's definitely a warning for newcomers - there may be a big demand at one point but do not expect this to be permanent. Work can dry up quickly and for a long time, just as you thought that you can reap the benefits of being more professional.
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Henriette Saffron  Identity Verified
Dinamarca
Local time: 11:03
inglés al danés
+ ...
Subtitlers in Scandinavia can make a decent living Sep 9, 2016

jbjb wrote:

Yes, French is the most expensive language together with German, also Scandinavian and a few others. USD 3 per minute is what big international companies are trying to push all languages down to. It is not a livable wage for a translator in France and can be accepted either because of interest (i.e. you would be willing to translate fan subs for free anyway, so why not get at least some money) or by housewives/husbands who just have a lot of time to spare.
The rates for most French-based (or Europe-based) companies are much better due to trade union pressure and make French one of the last languages in the world where professional translators can still make a living with subtitles. Scandinavia is an example where the rates have become so low across the board that an 8-hour working day with regular speed as a subtitle translator gives you just about the minimum wage of the country. So subtitle translation has become the work of mostly students, not professional translators. And of course there are people, if given a choice between dishwashing and subtitle translation for equal pay, would pick translation.

The way to make money with USD 3 per minute or minimum wage is to work more - as a subtitle translator, you can work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and earn more than a dishwasher who is usually bound by the 40-hour working week.
Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


I am a subtitler living in Denmark. I began translating subtitles a couple of years ago. I get paid enough, also by big, international agencies, to make a decent living without compromising the quality of my work, and I don’t have to work 12 hours per day. (By the way, there is no official minimum wage in Denmark.)

I hardly qualify as an “old generation subtitle translator”, and I would never dream of attempting to translate 4-5 feature films per week.

If you accept 3 USD per running minute, then that’s what you’ll get. I don’t accept proposed rates, unless they really are acceptable, I tell prospective clients what I charge.


Andrea Mihajlovic
 

Georgios Tziakos  Identity Verified
España
Miembro 2011
inglés al griego
+ ...
Globalisation should have made this clear to anyone working for international clients by now Apr 26, 2017

Henriette Saffron wrote:

jbjb wrote:

Yes, French is the most expensive language together with German, also Scandinavian and a few others. USD 3 per minute is what big international companies are trying to push all languages down to. It is not a livable wage for a translator in France and can be accepted either because of interest (i.e. you would be willing to translate fan subs for free anyway, so why not get at least some money) or by housewives/husbands who just have a lot of time to spare.
The rates for most French-based (or Europe-based) companies are much better due to trade union pressure and make French one of the last languages in the world where professional translators can still make a living with subtitles. Scandinavia is an example where the rates have become so low across the board that an 8-hour working day with regular speed as a subtitle translator gives you just about the minimum wage of the country. So subtitle translation has become the work of mostly students, not professional translators. And of course there are people, if given a choice between dishwashing and subtitle translation for equal pay, would pick translation.

The way to make money with USD 3 per minute or minimum wage is to work more - as a subtitle translator, you can work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and earn more than a dishwasher who is usually bound by the 40-hour working week.
Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


I am a subtitler living in Denmark. I began translating subtitles a couple of years ago. I get paid enough, also by big, international agencies, to make a decent living without compromising the quality of my work, and I don’t have to work 12 hours per day. (By the way, there is no official minimum wage in Denmark.)

I hardly qualify as an “old generation subtitle translator”, and I would never dream of attempting to translate 4-5 feature films per week.

If you accept 3 USD per running minute, then that’s what you’ll get. I don’t accept proposed rates, unless they really are acceptable, I tell prospective clients what I charge.


And that's why professionals can still survive in countries with very high cost of living, like Scandinavia. Because they respect themselves and each other and keep their rates high. Any other country's translators could do the same, but they don't. Why? Because mentalities are different and make us grow an inferiority complex ("Oh well, of course I won't charge as much as my Swedish colleague, life is so much cheaper here in Greece/Spain/India/whenever"). For the end client and the translation agency, it makes no difference. With very few exceptions, the cost of services or the profit margins they have for clients of, say, Netflix in Spain are equivalent to the ones in Sweden.

I used to do the same myself, drop my prices trying to excuse my own attempt to be competitive. But competitiveness comes from offering high quality services at prices that range from reasonable to very high, but surely never bottom-feeder prices. This hurts everyone, and the ONLY ones finally (although not solely) responsible are translators themselves.


Dalia Zarhin
Sara Romero Mira
 

Georgios Tziakos  Identity Verified
España
Miembro 2011
inglés al griego
+ ...
If only people stopped trying to justify their own fears of raising their prices Apr 26, 2017

Faustine Roux wrote:

jbjb wrote:

Or you can be fast. Translate 2 films a week? It is entirely possible to translate 4-5 films or more with good quality. Really. Not all people can do it. The translators who cannot, say the rates have become too ridiculous and give up subtitling. The others adjust and work faster. It may be impossible for old generation subtitle translators who have become used to working on one film for a week to learn how to do it in 1-2 days.
As a newbie you have a choice - get better-paying jobs from France or accept low international rates (not necessarily USD 3, also USD 5-6 per minute would be considered unlivable for anyone working with French rates) and learn how to translate fast.


A film in one or two days ? And good quality ?
So tell me, if you're going so fast, how do you translate puns, jokes, play on words, songs that rhyme, dialects, complicated jargon, slang? How many times do you revise your film to make sure you didn't miss something, that everything reads smoothly?
I suppose that's why most of the series and films translated by companies offering $3 per minute have most of their jokes mis/untranslated, have spelling mistakes all over the place, and have subtitles that are too fast to be read and that are quite bland.

But sure, let's just translate 1 hour a day, not care about what we're doing and earn minimum wage...


PS: this is a general "you", not specifically addressed to anyone in particular.


Speed goes up considerably. But it doesn't up go that much, without sacrificing quality. What Faustine said is the point, the rest is pointless. You will never escape the need to find the proper expression and transcreate and cut down on the length of your translations in subtitling, even if you somehow avoid "poetic" transcreation. Subtitling, even if you have the script, even if you don't need to time code anything, is not just translation, it's translation within a very narrow framework that takes up more of your time, no matter how you try to go around it. Localization is sometimes similar, but can be much less restrictive if you don't have character length restrictions.

As to this myth about "old translators"... unless someone is like 70+ (and even then in countries where technology lags behind considerably, but not most European ones), it doesn't mean they'll be technologically illiterate. Most of my 40/50/60 year old colleagues have made the transition to using CAT tools just fine, unless they translate things that simply don't need it that much (like novels for instance). The professional always stays up to date with the tools of the trade. Tools of the trade don't mean you drop your prices per hour of work. Tools of the trade mean you increase consistency and some speed, but esp. in subtitling, there's no tool that has made a huge difference in output, since it's a bit like book translation in a way; translation memories don't help if there are no constant repetitions).

[Edited at 2017-04-26 15:42 GMT]


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 11:03
Miembro 2016
inglés al alemán
... Apr 26, 2017

Dictation software actually has increased the translator's output a bit.

On the other hand, TV series nowadays generally contain more words than even ten years ago -- they are cut faster, actors tend to talk faster, and there are less scenes without dialogue.

Also, in crime series, there's often a whole new level of fast technology babble that needs to be researched, no matter how stupid it might be.


Matheus Chaud
Ilse Heyrman
 
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