Darla – you're the director, so you need to get the footage translated/transcribed. Otherwise it'll end up with the editor or whoever does understand the footage directing it – which isn't what you want. Get it transcribed with time code and then go to the edit. I can't see any other way to do it.
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Okay, Rob. So then I need a tranlsator who can also transcribe.
Know anyone? :)
If you look back I'd already answered this and many other questions before – or just after – Christmas, if I remember correctly. The answers remain valid.
As I wrote you then, you would have been much better off having someone transcribe the tapes in Italy. Anyone could have done that for you over there. Then you could have chosen to have the transcripts translated in Italy or over here.
Check the old posts.
Thanks, Wolfgang – some things have changed, though. One being that I'm not in Italy any longer, so I can't really look at "should haves" at this point.
Well, another option would be to go over all the footage with the editor, which I'm sure you're going to do anyway, and log it with notes on what is valuable in terms of dialogue. Make quick notes while you're in capture, for instance. Lots of your material will probably get thrown out because of image problems anyway, most likely. So then you can get the pick of the material transcribed/translated. But you'll probably regret not having it all when you come to think about voiceover possibilities – when the track from substandard or problematic picture might still be very valuable. The best route is just to bite the bullet and get it all done.
Do I know anyone – well, contact me offline if you want to discuss it.
"The best route is just to bite the bullet and get it all done."
While all the while telling your self that money has nothing to do with filmmaking.
Rob, What would be "biting the bullet" in this case? I wasn't clear (sorry, newbie). Also, I did try e-mailing you at the address on your site, but the e-mail bounced. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to contact me.
"biting the bullet" = paying money to have your tapes transcribes/translated.
BTW, I'll be very interested to see how this turns out for you.
For a variety of reasons, I'd like to do one of my "hardcore love stories" with a spanish-speaking couple. But while I speak spanish well enough to travel in Mexico, I can't image editing in Spanish, at least not the way I edit my english films.
Well, Tony, if I jump off a bridge in the midst of this . . .
My gut is telling me to have it all transcribed in English with time codes – that I spend my money there rather than with an editor.
I trust my editing (although I'm a book editor) to at least get my first 16 hours into a trailer (with some help) and get a better grasp of my story.
Ideally, I could sit with someone . . . but I just don't have a bazillion dollars right now. I have like twenty bucks :)
Really, I'd put out a couple thousand, but not like five.
So I don't know if this plan/gut is reasonable. I think so.
Tony, that's an interesting remark. BTW – I'd love to get ahold of your films, they really look fascinating.
Having just completed 18 months work in Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil (none of which I speak, except Hindi I understand maybe 30%) I'd be interested to know why you wouldn't be able to edit in a language you understand like you do in English. Once you have transcriptions and so on, what other problems would you be facing?
The best advice I ever got (as far as indie filmmaking goes) was "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly."
FWIW. I never use transcripts, or haven't since I bought my own edit suite about 15 years ago. I just watch the stuff over and over and over and over and over and over until it's all completely memorized. Probably not the most cost effective way to do it, and probably completely impossible in your transliterated case. Of maybe not. Maybe if you watched long enough you'd learn italian.
Which is why I'm curious to hear how it all turns out for you.
Good luck. And you still need a shirt and/or sweater, I'm cleaning out my closet. I could send something to you.
Rob, as mentioned above I don't use transcript. Originally this was a cheap ass cost saving measure. But over time I came to feel that having a vivid sense of how something was said was at least as important as knowing what was said. Transcripts just don't convey that for me.
Also, despite being told on many occasions that spending so much time watching footage and scanning footage to find what I was looking for was a big waste of time, I've had too many "happy accidents" where I've stumbled across the key to the whole film while looking around trying to find something I thought I remembered someone saying. (I recently read that Walter Murch feels the same way about scanning, so I feel vindicated.)
Tony, you inspire me. I want to learn to edit myself. I think I'd love it.
Anyway, I think you can keep doing what you're doing but with transcripts and translation, no? I mean, in the case of your Spanish film, you can memorize what's been said (once you have the footage translated).
All right, I'm just going to worry about my own problems here.
The mechanics of editing are not especially difficult, expecially now with things like FCP. Probably it's sort of like writing a novel. I'm sure you've heard the aphorism that everyone has one novel in them; probably everyone has one film they could edit in them, person connection and passion an adequate substitute for art and craft.
I'm still waiting for the world to catch on to the fact that I probabyl the most ham-handed hack ever to make a "career" for himself in film. Hopefully by the time they do I'll have enough rental properties and t-bills it won't matter!
My best Spanish lesson was making a film in Spanish. I did 7 hours of interviews in Spanish. Then I transcribed everything they said in Spanish over the course of one long day. Then I spent another longer day translating everything into English. In an editing program were you can watch and rewatch what some one says, it is amazing how much easier it is to follow a sentence. After putting all that work into the 7 hours of interview, I realized I had nothing of what I wanted. I was making a training video for people who suffered a spinal injury. Ultimately I took the best bits of the interviews and asked my subjects to make them much more concise. Together we crafted a script. The words were theirs, but I kept them on point. At the beginning of the process my Spanish was bad, by then end I was down right okay. Now it is bad again, but that is just for lack of practice.
As for editing, just do it. Get imovie, final cut, premiere or whatever. Have someone explain basics to you in one afternoon. Ultimately it is just cutting and pasting stuff together. You will learn the nuances as you go. But you shouldn't be afraid to mess around with out help. I mean what's the worst that can happen. I went to film school, but I learned nearly all my editing skills outside of the classroom by playing around with friends.
back when cuts only offline editing costs $50/hour it was expensive to fuck around and try to edit. Now you've got the basic tools on your laptop.
Give it a go! You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Wow. That's impressive. I should add that my subjects speak in wacky proverbs and often don't have teeth (which makes it even harder for me to understand them) and also have a lot of regionalness – not necessarily dialect – so this would be extremely difficult for me.
When I worked with them, and was near them, it was much easier for me, but I actually really long to know what they're saying, so for the, I think the translation would be a gift.
I thought something like FC is $800 or more. . . ? Maybe I'll consider it. (Yes, cheaper than film school – and I already paid my way through writing school.)
Victor, the producer/writer on Second Skin, still regularly cuts small projects on imovie. When he made a daily vlog for our south by south west premier he entirely used imovie. variety blogged about our vlog strategy and posted our youtube link. So imovie does give results.
There are very often less then honorable ways of getting software for free. Maybe you can convince someone to share their discs with you. All I am saying is one should not have to pay to learn. Granted, I pay for my software now.
As for translation, if you came to my neighborhood, Astoria, looking as topless as you do in your photo, there would be a line of men begging for the opportunity to translate it for free.
As for my experience, let me say all of my subjects were paraplegics and quadriplegics, meaning they spoke perfectly. My last grade in spanish was C+ in spanish 2. But I had completed 2 months of immersion Spanish lessons with the two quadriplegics in the film. Needless to say if anyone wants a remarkable effective and inexpensive place to learn spanish, check out http://www.projimo.org.mx/
People like you drive me nuts – no offense meant :-) – because you ask for advice (sometimes on different boards), you don't take it and then you ask the same questions again!
Re your translation dilemma, check the hidden section, I reprinted my previous answers (you could have looked them up in mentoring room yourself).
Next, when you decide to ask more questions about editing, check the answers Chris Wong and I already gave you (in the Mentoring Room) on that subject! :-)
Mr. Brauer, as far as I know, I am wearing a shirt, albeit strapless . . . but I might consider your offer to walk the streets of Astoria with my footage needing translation.
Wolfgang, I will not bypass your hidden content. I'm sorry to have overlooked it. And, if it's any comfort, I even annoy myself sometimes.
I assumed it was strapless. But part of the d-word is having fun. No-offense intended.
Seriously half of my neighbors are native Italian speakers. I live on the same block as George Costanza's parents live on Seinfeld. No joke their house has a unique look that could only be my block. I know one old guy down the street who only speaks Italian. We say hi and wave, but that is about it.
darla, if it makes you feel any better, peter's not wearing any pants...
Hahahaha . . . oh, you boys!
All right, well, I'm taking heed (Wolfgang) and I think I'm going to find myself a good translator. Ideally, it would be one of the italians I worked with – they were there. They know the nuances of the language and got the wacky proverbs.
I understand why many people recommended that I just go in (with or without a pro editor) and start cutting – but I think this is an opportunity for me to really sit with what I shot, get to know my characters (and finally learn what was said!) and get a better grasp on my story. And being a Capricorn, an editor, and a writer . . . I think I'm interested in learning myself, first, what my story is, before someone sits and tells me (though I do enjoy collaboration).
So I think that's how I'll move.
You'll find that you won't regret having a real pro do it. In reality, it has to be someone really good, it's not enough to know the language.
All the more, if your documentary is going to be based on these interviews, you can't afford to loose the nuances.
I have done some translations of the sound track of documentaries (same issue except on finished products) and I speak Italian perfectly, so you'd be surprised to find out how many shitty jobs are out there. Sometimes, minor misunderstandings leadot translations that are actually saying the contrary of what was said.
Translating from English, the most common problems regard the mis-translation of American idioms or expressions. When you can't translate literally you need to know how to adapt the sentence to the other langauge and or culture, etc.
getting back to your stuff, you need someone who understands the language and the culture, so they can transalte the fine points without loosing any of the texture, if you know what I mean.
When you've done this part, before you start editing, re-read my posts on the editing phase.
Yes, Wolfgang. I know . . . the problem is, how to find this person who is going to do this. Ideally, it would be my DP – he knew the people, loved them, got their proverbs, and has an excellent command of English. But he's not terribly excited by the prospect.
Tony is right.
If you offer to pay him enough he'll probably accept the job.
Furthermore, it would probably be much easier for him (in Italy, if I remember correctly) to find people to transcribe – with time code references – your interviews.
Absent money, try flattery, perrsuasion, coercion, persistence. If that doesn't work, try showing him your tits.
Of course I'd pay him, but he's gotten dp jobs at $800 a day now, and I know he knows I can't pay him a rate like that, so . . . I think he's just not down with it.
What's a going rate for good translation and how do I know how long it would take to translate 10-16 hours of footage (that he shot)?
Don't believe Tony. I tried showing my tits once and it didn't work.
I tried flattery, perrsuasion, coercion, persistence, and didn't get anywhere with those either.
As I wrote before, I used "flattery, perrsuasion, coercion, persistence" because I had to tits to show and no money to spend.
Oh, such abuse a poor girl has to endure to get her film made! Don't be offended, Darla, just consider it mild preparation for dealing with the distribution phase.
On a serious note, could you negotiate a fixed price with your DP that would be enough to entice him to do the work? If so, then you could go out and fundraise for it. Depending on who you know and are related to, a good way to raise modest amounts of money is to send a nice letter to your entire friends and family list explaining your project and asking for donations. Be specific and say "I now need $XX to pay for YYY part of the project." I'm personally terrible at asking for money, but the few times I've done it, having a specific amount for a specific purpose has been more successful than a general request.
Hmmm....Mikal, good idea. I think I'll save my fundraising for when I really need it--to go back to Italy to finish shooting and everything else following that (tons more translation, editing, etc....)
I want to propose this to my DP, but I want to give him something reasonable. I'm canceling a dream trip to Alaska this summer to do it.
I just want to get an idea from others on timeframe and cost estimate.
This is how I did my translations. It is the cheapest way I could think of, and I had hours and hours of Korean to translate. I went to school's websites to find my translators and interviewers. I live near Brown University so I went to their school's student union web site and found Korean Student Association. I am sure they have the same type thing for Italian. The first translator I paid $10 an hour. Because of my topic being related to woman studies the second semester she was going to work for credit only, but she went abroad, and I had to find a paid replacement. So I say find a student, they are cheap or free, and you can teach them how to subtitle.
Tara has given you a good idea. I'm not sure about where you live, but in NY there are several universities with Italian institutes. Aside from a small fee, you can always promise to list them as "intern" or whatever in the credits section of your doc
Sorry, I don't mean to turn this into the All-About-Me Room, but while I did like Tara's idea, I just wonder about the quality and level of translation. Wolfgang, you yourself had written quite a lot on the subject of hiring a talented translator. My characters are in a small region in the mountains of Abruzzo and don't speak "regular" Italian and are often difficult to understand; I'm sure many of the words and usages in their diction are archaic.
To me, this might take more than a college student for $10 an hour. I mean, it's definitely definitely a good resource. But I have tons of friends who speak Italian . . . just word about the issue of "dialect" (it's more a regional issue than a dialect, but it's easiest to put it that way).
Thanks, though, to both of you!
How about negotiating a fixed price up front with your DP but paying him off at some set rate/month that you can both live with, like a mortgage. Think he'd go for that?
Find a college student in the U.S. from the region, or one who has some familiarity with the argot there. Is there a university in the Abruzzo... with an exchange program with an American University? Worth some digging and posting on university websites. Or, perhaps a college professor who is familiar with the dialect? They have to be out there....
lets not always call the DP a he! I know only 6% of women are in the industry but lets not rub it in...
In this case, he is in fact a "he," which is why I used the word.
Just to put it into context: I'm a talented translator, I've made my living doing it for ten years, been living in Italy since 91, but I wouldn't touch the dialect of my own region with a bargepole, let alone that of another region.
So here's a different suggestion. Why don't you wait until you're back in Italy (you said you're going back in the summer and you're not in a great hurry), then get someone from the community you're documenting to help you with the translation? I'd imagine that people would like to be involved in your process, it would probably greatly increase your access and integration. Dialect is a huge problem for translation, but on the other hand, people are very proud of it and getting the characters themselves involved would be a great way to show them that you are very committed to what is so particular about their lifestyle and community.
[Start dodgy suggestion] In the meantime you could cut a very short teaser for picture alone, put some music over it and wild track perhaps. And if what they're doing/saying is most likely not of great dramaturgical impact (when cutting up the pig, for instance), then you could even subtitle what you imagine they're saying (like, hand me the bucket, careful not to get blood on your shoes, etc.). This would work for a teaser until you can get the real thing. [End dodgy suggestion]
Re my previous answer, what I had written you in the past is, in fact, correct.
The idea re using a student translator – and mind you, I'd choose a graduate student who speaks the language fluently (that's why I mentioned cultural Institutes like the ones at NYU and Columbia); I didn't mean someone studying Italian – is still a good one to help you save money.
The student (who needs to be fluent and competent) could probably provide a good first draft of a translation of most of the dialogue and you could then have an expert (especially in reference to the dialect), verify it afterwards. This would allow you to save money.
this is a reply to Darla, and another question to all.
Darla – I posted for a translator on the good ol' craigslist and was surprised on how many responses I received. In all I got 6 hours of beautifully translated (spanish to english) with time code references for a couple hundred dollars.
To all – I'm in post production on my first feature doc. and need to find a music contract pertaining to world wide film festival usage. I'm trying to avoid contacting an entertainment lawyer because of the cost.
Thanks, y'all. In fact, the dp is a he (I think I mentioned that a few times). And I just wrote to him today to ask . . . I said he can take his time, and I'd pay him slowly . . . (so thanks for the mortgage metaphor, Mikal). And I'm just keeping my fingers crossed – though, he lives in Milan, and accepts only euros; in this case, if it doesn't work out, I won't be too upset, b/c the exchange rate right now is why I can't go back and shoot in the first place (until I have more funding).
So, I'm not actually planning to go back until August 2009 (Rob thought it was this summer). . . and I do have time on my side here. If the dp accepts, I'll be good to go. If he doesn't, I'll ask the photographer (who was also with us and had a good grasp on the regionality in the language). Short of those two, I love the idea of Craigslist.
So that's what I'll do.
The teaser idea was cute, Rob.
I tried to find your e-mail address. . . would you mind contacting me off list at email@example.com? I need some advice on the CL post.
Just to let you know, I loved working with the students. I have to admit that before this project I was not at all familiar with Korean culture. You might be more familiar with Italian culture, and probably are, but there was much more to know than just the language. My students did more than just translations for me. One student even did footnotes for me on the translations that were worth probably more that what I would pay an actual translator. I would learn things in the footnotes that I could bring up in future interviews. Even if you do not get a student, you should ask if it is possible to get some kind of footnotes on the translations. My footnotes had historical and cultural information.
Anyone know where i can find some info on the perils and pitfalls of selling my own DVD over the internet? Website or a book perhaps?