Reading subtitles is already an intrinsic part of watching films. However, the role of the subtitle writer is often taken for granted. While some may assume that writing subtitles is merely a mundane task, it nevertheless entails certain responsibilities and technical requirements that may not be obvious to all. Therefore, before diving in, let us take a moment to consider the pay structure of this fascinating field.
The Anatomy Of A Movie Subtitle
The basic unit of a movie is the “frame”. A frame usually lasts for a couple of seconds and can accommodate a maximum of three sentences spoken by one or more characters. The frame is often accompanied by an on-screen graphic that prompts the reader to follow the actions described in the dialogue. A movie subtitle is generally made up of one or more sentences spoken by one or more characters in the film. Typically, the speaker’s face is visible and the words are displayed on screen for the reader to follow along. The speaker’s name is generally not included in the subtitle but the name of the character they are representing is typically used instead.
A movie subtitle is generally made for a global audience and may not include any reference to locations or items specific to a single country or area. With the exception of some titles from the 1950s, movie subtitles are usually not printed in bold, larger typeface than the rest of the script. As a result, the role of the subtitle writer is often taken for granted and they are often not credited for their work. Nevertheless, without a good subtitle, a film may not reach its full potential.
How Much Do You Get Paid For Writing Subtitles?
The pay structure for a movie subtitle varies from gig to gig and is generally based on the complexity of the task and the amount of time spent. The least complex and least time-consuming task is a “one-line” subtitle. A one-line subtitle is one that encompasses a single sentence and does not require any additional research or preparation. Some examples of one-line translations include “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” and “Little Bo Peep says hi to her fans”. While they may not seem like much, one-line subtitles can occasionally turn out to be the key to unlocking the potential of a film. For instance, if a film is set in Italy but the subtitles are in English, the viewer may not understand a word being said.
A “mid-line” or “two-line” subtitle is one that comprises two sentences and usually requires some research to verify a character’s mood or intention. A good example of a two-line translation is “I know what you did last summer”. A mid-line or two-line subtitle will frequently include some kind of reference to the film’s setting, characters and/or plot. The writer must determine the appropriate mood and tone of each sentence in order to maintain consistency with the rest of the script. In many cases, the writer will have to conduct some research in order to determine the correct translation for a particular scene. In addition, since the role of the subtitle writer is often taken for granted, they may not be sufficiently grateful for the opportunities provided by the film industry. As a result, they may not always perform at their best, producing subpar work that does not necessarily reflect their true potential.
A “full-line” or “three-line” subtitle is one that comprises three sentences and requires the most research and prep work. A good example of a three-line translation is “She smiled, then she frowned, the old hag!”. A full-line or three-line subtitle will frequently include a reference to locations and/or items that are specific to a single country or area. For instance, if a film is set in Italy but the subtitles are in English, the audience may not understand a word being said because the locations and items mentioned do not necessarily exist in Italy. This type of subtitle is generally printed in larger typeface than the rest of the script and includes names of places and people. A three-line or full-line subtitle will frequently include a witty or sarcastic remark made by one of the characters. In many cases, the writer will have to conduct extensive research in order to translate a film’s dialogue accurately. Verifying a character’s meaning and intention through context is a key element to producing a good translation.
The Rewards Of A Good Subtitle
The rewards of a good subtitle can be countless. A good translation may not only help a film reach a larger audience but it may also allow the viewer to gain a new perspective on the world they inhabit. In some cases, a single well-written subtitle can increase a film’s popularity, resulting in an increase in the film’s earnings. In other cases, a well-written subtitle can even become iconic, resulting in the writer being immortalized in the annals of film history.
The role of the subtitler is often taken for granted but they nonetheless constitute an integral part of film production. Due to their work being so crucial to the success of a film, they often go uncredited but nonetheless deserve the utmost credit for their contributions.