Reaction to Iyuno-SDI’s white paper on subtitling

Iyuno-SDI recently published a white paper which breaks down the successive steps of the subtitling process, from the order placed by a broadcaster to the final product ready to be broadcast. Let’s have a look.

In essence, we learn that subtitling is both a technical and a creative process and that, while Iyuno-SDI is vastly competent regarding the technical aspect, it somehow fails on the creative one, which unfortunately ruins the whole thing.

Indeed, Iyuno-SDI goes to great lengths to disconnect its lack of good subtitlers from the rates it offers. Tricky. To justify its failure in recruiting, a core expertise for a high-profile company, it has to acknowledge that professional subtitling requires very specific skills.

Yet these skills so hard to come by are not to be rewarded financially, as subtitlers are not only rare, but also dumb, and don’t expect it. So, Iyuno-SDI basically says: ‘What is rare is not expensive’. Would you trust a company making such a clueless statement?

What kind of money are we talking about? In its white paper, Iyuno-SDI gives an estimate of the time subtitlers spend translating films and series. It seems to range from 4h on a 22-minute show to 8h for 10 minutes of content.

Based on the rate subtitlers get on that end of the market, it means for some European language pairs, even the fastest ones will only get 5$/h,  before tax. And in pairs with a less outrageous rate, if you strive to deliver professional results, you’ll earn 80$ for a day’s work.

Wait, isn’t that against the law in most European countries? No, of course, because freelancers are mostly outside any protection system. For now, at least. But would you trust a company boasting of exploiting its suppliers so ravenously?

About the alleged talent drain, how to explain then that European local branches of Iyuno-SDI itself offering good rates and reasonable working conditions don’t experience this shortage and produce quality translated content?

And if there is a shortage of good subtitlers, why not invest in reinforced quality checking as an emergency measure, instead of cutting it altogether? [maybe there is no such thing as respect for clients and audiences in Iyuno-SDI’s parallel  universe.]

None of this makes sense, but far from being the clumsy work of a PR trainee, this white paper describes the core strategy of a company using its all-dominant position to inflict cynicism and  exploitation on the whole localization industry.

This is  Iyuno-SDI’s underlying message:
-We at Iyuno-SDI are incapable of anticipating industry trends or taking any action to  rapidly  solve problems affecting a key component of our mission and frankly, we don’t care.

-We will go on offering outrageous fees to subtitlers, because we can, because they are weak and don’t know their worth.

This may be legitimate in the world we live in. However this ‘strategy’ can only hold up to a point. Because of its gigantism, Iyuno-SDI is making the whole localization sector unsustainable, as any damage it causes happens on a huge scale.

Subtitlers will go on looking for other jobs and trainees won’t stay around for long due to the terrible working conditions. The shortage won’t be only a poor excuse for Iyuno-SDI’s own  lack of responsibility anymore, but a real impediment.

As a federation representing thousands of audiovisual translators across Europe in 20+ languages, AVTE is happy to share the combined experience of its national organisations with any stakeholder willing to build a fair, healthy market and bring the best experience to audiences.