Budgeting for Language Versioning: Talk to Us Early

I’ve spent a good chunk of the past few days with my nose buried in versioning budgets: translation, adaptation, voice talent – every language, every project is a bit different. And it’s important to us and to our clients that we get the numbers right. So we sweat the details.

Often, producers come to us at the proposal stage. They know their client needs the video translated into French and Spanish – or into half a dozen other languages – but they’re not sure how to budget for this.

We can help. Over the years, we’ve developed metrics that give us a good sense of how long a project will take, how much studio time is needed, etc. And every producer gets the same questions:

  • How long is the video?
  • Dubbing or subtitling, or a combination of the two?
  • If dubbing, what kind? UN-style, dialogue replacement, or lip-sync?
  • Narration only, or are there interview clips? If there are interviews, how many different voices do you anticipate you’ll need?
  • Would you like us to translate the script, or will the translation be provided? (If it’s the latter, we recommend budgeting for some revision, so that the translated script matches the video.)
  • If it’s subtitling, do you need us to embed the subtitles, or are you going to do that yourself?

You may not know the answers to all of these questions at this stage. But based on your estimates, we can provide a pretty accurate quote you can include in your budget. (What we can’t do is give you a generic per-minute price, because each of these factors affects the budget.)

Of course, once your production is finished and ready for language versioning, the numbers may change. We recently quoted on a couple of kids’ animation series without seeing even a single script. Not knowing how “talky” the show is or how many characters it has, it’s impossible to come up with an accurate, guaranteed quote. But we did our estimates based on past experience and other scripts we’ve seen, and we were able to give the producer a ballpark figure to work with.

So if you’re planning a project that needs translation and versioning, get in touch with us early. We’re always happy to talk.

Eric Geringas
Versioning producer. Documentary filmmaker. Factual TV director. Problem solver.