I don’t have fixed rates for my services. Instead, I offer flexible rates that reflect the complexity of the project and the time it takes to complete it. Contact me for a quote.
Why no fixed rates?
When it comes to subtitling, setting rates is not as simple as it may seem: on the one hand, you want to get paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work, and on the other hand the client needs to know in advance how much your work will cost and if it’s within their budget. Let’s take a look at the three most prevalent rate types and whether they manage to achieve both:
Per runtime minute
This is hands down the most popular one, used across the globe by subtitlers and agencies alike. Calculating the project cost with it is straightforward, and the client can make an easy decision of whether to hire you or go look somewhere else.
But what about the subtitler? The subtitler gets the short end of the stick, because there’s often no way to tell beforehand how much work that one runtime minute will involve. The reasons are:
1. Varied amount of spoken content
For example, in WALL-E, a Pixar animated film about two robots falling in love, there is barely any dialogue, so a specialist would make a short work of subtitling it. Quite the opposite, dialogue-heavy Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino has about the same runtime but would take much, much longer to complete.
2. Varied linguistic complexity
Terminology, humor, slang, dialects, references and some other linguistic puzzles in the dialogue invariably make translating and subtitling a video harder. You can get something simple like a David Attenborough documentary about penguins or something painstaking like an episode of the show Whose Line Is It Anyway where the players crack puns pretty much non-stop. The latter, of course, will take much more time to tackle even with the same runtime.
3. Varied subtitling complexity
Since people can process words quicker in speech than in reading, the subtitler cannot just translate the video as-is, because the viewer won’t be able to keep up with the subtitles. To make them easier to read, one has to translate succinctly, segment the text at natural points and set the in- and out-times carefully. The higher the pace of the dialogue, the more work it requires to keep the subtitles comfortably readable.
So, the “per minute” rate is not ideal.
Championed by the French Association of Audiovisual Translators and Adapters, this rate type is kinder to the subtitler. Even though the variance in complexity is still there, at least the volume of text is now fixed, which means the subtitler will be paid more fairly for the amount of work done.
For the client, however, seeing a set rate per subtitle will not give any meaningful information about the total project cost, since it’s impossible to tell in advance how many subs the subtitler will end up producing.
Per script word
This rate type is the most accommodating one, because it gives full financial control to both the subtitler and the client, but it does have a shortcoming: the client has to know the word count to calculate the cost, which is often not the case.
As you can see, none of these rate types are perfect, so instead I offer tailored rates that depend on how much work the project at hand invovles.