How Do We Quote a Subtitling Project?

Subtitling services can be difficult in terms of making a quote, especially the details of what needs to be done are not very clear. It may be that sometimes the client does not know the difference between subtitling and a voice-over (i.e. the original audio dubbing in the target language, something that is not related to subtitles) and, therefore, offers no clear instructions on the task at hand. Subtitling and dubbing are two completely different things, each of which requires procedures that, although they may be similar in some points, in fact are not.

It is imporant to consider some key aspects when quoting a subtitling project.

1) First, we must take into account the type of audio, in terms of quality and quantity. Audio quality, of course, must be clear enough so that everything that is said is easily understood. Furthermore, subtitling a single file is quite a different task than subtitling multiple short files. These aspects, depending on how other nuances of the project, take time.

2) Secondly, it is important to use the right tools to make a subtitle. Tools and programs that are typically applied are:

* VLC (offers the possibility to adjust the playback speed)
* Subtitle Workshop
* Visual Subsync (analyzes the sound wave to better establish the time of entry)
* Handbreak (analyzes and extracts the chapters of a DVD)
* Virtual Lab (can burn subtitles directly over video, the same as Handbreak)
* Dragon (for voice recognition)

These tools are ideal for an immediate subtitling. That is, the translation is done on the program in time with the audio and thus the subtitles are generated. Of course, this reduces costs because only one person is needed to take care of that job. A translator who is experienced in the use of these tools can carry out this work to perfection. Some agencies do not have these programs and use the rudimentary process of transcribing the audio into a word processor and work with other agencies that are dedicated solely to making subtitles. This increases costs because more resources are used in the project.

The most common steps involved in subtitling work are:

1. Localization.
2. Translation.
3. Adaptation.
4. Simulation.
5. Impression.

Steps two and three (translation and adaptation) can be done together; however, it is recommended to translate freely first and then “prune” the translation to suit the number of characters allowed in subtitles. The character limit is also important, since it is estimated that there is a general average of 36 characters per subtitle.

(Versión en español: