Is $3 per program minute for subtitle translation a fair quote?
Thread poster: Alexandra Kudryavtseva

Alexandra Kudryavtseva  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:38
English to Russian
+ ...
Jun 5

Hey everyone,

I recently received quotes for subtitle translation from a translation agency: they pay $3 per program minute for translation, and $1 per minute for proofreading. Is this quote fair or too low?

I consider myself a rather experienced translator (3 years in video game localization), but I have never done freelance, so I have no idea what I should normally charge.

If it matters: I live in the States.

Thank you,
Alexandra
<
... See more
Hey everyone,

I recently received quotes for subtitle translation from a translation agency: they pay $3 per program minute for translation, and $1 per minute for proofreading. Is this quote fair or too low?

I consider myself a rather experienced translator (3 years in video game localization), but I have never done freelance, so I have no idea what I should normally charge.

If it matters: I live in the States.

Thank you,
Alexandra

[Edited at 2019-06-05 17:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-06-05 17:37 GMT]
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Alexandra Jun 5

Alexandra Kudryavtseva wrote:
I recently received [offers] for subtitle translation from a translation agency: they pay $3 per program minute for translation, and $1 per minute for proofreading.


It's impossible to know how many words there are in each 1 minute, but: normal talking speed for reading books out loud is about 160 words per minute. This means that they're offering to pay USD 0.019 per word for translation and USD 0.006 per word for proofreading. The ProZ.com community rate (i.e. the average of the rates charged by about 8000 English-Russian translators here) is about USD 0.100 per word for translation. So, they're offering you 1/5 of the average rate.


DZiW
Matheus Chaud
Thayenga
 

Matheus Chaud  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:38
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese

MODERATOR
Not fair, but common Jun 6

I don't think USD 3/minute is fair, but unfortunately it's very common.

Subtitling rates seem to be worse and worse, and that's one of the reasons I've been avoiding jobs in this field (which is a pity, since I really like subtitling).

I tend to refuse anything below USD 5/minute, but my ideal rate is USD 8/minute, for most subtitling projects. Few companies offer that for my language pair (English to Portuguese).

[Edited at 2019-06-06 01:22 GMT]


Kelly Lebel
 

Alexandra Kudryavtseva  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:38
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Samuel and @Matheus Jun 6

Thank you! I won't take it, then. It's ridiculously low.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:38
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
This rate can be "topped" Jun 6

I just received an offer to create an .srt file for $1.90 per audio minute. That is, 380+ minutes in 4 weeks, resulting in a month's income well below the poverty line. In this light, the $3.00 you've been offered are truly generous. (Sorry about the sarcasm.)

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Thayenga Jun 6

Thayenga wrote:
I just received an offer to create an .srt file for $1.90 per audio minute.


Yes, but that is (presumably) for transcription and subtitle creation, so that's even worse. It takes 8 to 10 actual minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio, and then you still have to perform the copywriting task of turning the transcription into proper subtitles.

Alexandra's question was about the translation of subtitles. I'm not sure if her client also expected her to turn her translation into subtitles as well (which is also a copywriting task), or perhaps her client believes that if you translate a subtitle, the translation is automatically a subtitle as well.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:38
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
@ Samuel Jun 6

Samuel Murray wrote:

Thayenga wrote:
I just received an offer to create an .srt file for $1.90 per audio minute.


Yes, but that is (presumably) for transcription and subtitle creation, so that's even worse. It takes 8 to 10 actual minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio, and then you still have to perform the copywriting task of turning the transcription into proper subtitles.

It was a transcription request. Therefore, the requester, a generally bottom-feeder agency that ignores my request to be deleted from their data base unless they offer acceptable rates, expected all this work to be done in that (relatively) short time.


Alexandra's question was about the translation of subtitles. I'm not sure if her client also expected her to turn her translation into subtitles as well (which is also a copywriting task), or perhaps her client believes that if you translate a subtitle, the translation is automatically a subtitle as well.


This is where the educational process needs to set in. Many customers don't really know the difference between actually translating subtitles to be returned in an .srt file only, and the actual subtitling task.

Once I received an offer to "translate subtitles" at a decent, though not high rate. It turned out that this job included the creation of an .srt file, the translation of the subtitles in that format, as well as the actual subtitling work in the video. The provided deadline sufficed only to translate an already existing .srt file.

[Edited at 2019-06-06 08:20 GMT]


 

Slobodan Kozarčić  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 22:38
Member (2016)
English to Serbian
+ ...
There are worse offers Jun 6

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an English to Croatian subtitling offer made by "the award winning worldwide leading European cinema TV channel". They offered 40 USD per one hour of runtime for translation and 20 USD per hour for proofreading. Since the film has 9,700 words and 90 minutes, the rate for one word is generous 0.006 USD per one word (yes, 0.6 USD cents), or 0.67 USD per minute. When I told their PM it was insulting (and he wanted it to be translated in JUST two days - sorry, I am no... See more
A few days ago, I stumbled upon an English to Croatian subtitling offer made by "the award winning worldwide leading European cinema TV channel". They offered 40 USD per one hour of runtime for translation and 20 USD per hour for proofreading. Since the film has 9,700 words and 90 minutes, the rate for one word is generous 0.006 USD per one word (yes, 0.6 USD cents), or 0.67 USD per minute. When I told their PM it was insulting (and he wanted it to be translated in JUST two days - sorry, I am not a translation Lucky Luke, who is faster than his own shadow), I got no further response.

[Edited at 2019-06-06 16:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-06-06 16:06 GMT]
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