How Do Subtitle Translations Work?
Within subtitling services, the translation process involves a number of steps. First, the video should be transcribed word for word in the source language. Next, the text will be timed and split as subtitles. Once a source language subtitle file exists, text can be translated line by line into the target language(s). This process ensures the highest quality subtitle output. However, it can also make subtitling service translation rates tricky to project and budget for.
Subtitle translations can potentially be priced up in a number of different ways and some companies will offer per video minute rates for translations. At Capital Captions, however, our foreign subtitling service charges are applied as below:
- Source language video transcription charge – Starting from £1.00 per video minute
- Video subtitling (source language) including translation template – Starting from £2.50 per video minute
- Source to target language subtitle and video translation – Starting from £0.12 per word
- Burning services are available and depend on video length, file size and visual complexity. (E.g. onscreen graphics, text and/or shot changes).
Are there other options in terms of subtitle translation prices?
Subtitling companies will typically charge translations on a per word basis. This means a source language transcript needs to be written before confirming a subtitle price. For this reason, it can be tempting to translate from the video instead of using a source language transcription. Whilst this approach may be seem like a good idea, the results are often highly compromised and in some cases, the subtitling process has to be entirely revisited. Additionally, where videos don’t contain constant speech, the cost can work out higher this way. This is usually due to issues with reading speeds or audio and visual sync because of structural differences in writing from one language to another.
Why are ‘per word’ subtitling prices best for both translators and clients?
When subtitling, it’s crucial to work from text in order to allow the most flexibility in keeping to reading speeds and character limits. Good subtitling can be quite a mathematical process with reading speeds, frame rates, subtitle duration’s and gaps to work through. Per word subtitle translation charges ensure the highest level of accuracy where nothing is missed. Translation is an art form and can be subjective, which means without something concrete to start from, the final product can wind up drifting a little too far from the finishing line.
For standard document translation, differences in word and character count aren’t typically an issue. However, the hard work in subtitling is to minimise the difference in terms of word count in order to maintain reasonable reading speeds. In addition, remember, subtitles should only linger onscreen for between one and seven seconds. Too many characters and viewers won’t have time to read – regardless of language…
Languages and Character Densities
The below table gives an indication of the average difference in terms of character limits between source and target text. Word rate differences (spoken and written) should also help to clarify why we charge translations on a per word basis as opposed to per video minute.
|SUBTITLE SERVICE LANGUAGES||CHANGE IN WORD DENSITY|
|English to German subtitles||30% increase|
|English to Portuguese subtitles||25% increase|
|English to Spanish subtitles||25% increase|
|English to French subtitles||20% increase|
|English to Italian subtitles||20% increase|
|English to Arabic subtitles||20% increase|
|English to Greek subtitles||10% increase|
|English to Dutch subtitles||15% decrease|
|English to Chinese subtitles||25% decrease|
|English to Japanese subtitles||40% decrease|
As you can see from the above table some languages increase as they are translated and some decrease in length.