How to translate videos: A step-by-step guide
May 28, 2024

How to translate videos: A step-by-step guide

Video marketing, advertising, and learning via video has gotten stronger over the last couple of years. It is a trend that will persevere, because video is very close to how the human brain tends to collect information from the outside world.

Not surprisingly, 89% of video marketers say they get a good return on investment from videos. The number of online training and educational videos, too, grew by more than a third in 2021.

Given that video has firmly entrenched itself in our lives, you probably already have created a video marketing strategy for your organization. If your business goes across the borders or caters to multicultural audiences, video translation and localization would be an important part of your strategy.

In this post, we take you through the steps of video localization to help create high-quality, multilingual videos and how to add subtitle to videos.

Start with content creation

The key to successful video localization lies in creating global-ready content. What does this mean?  When creating the script for your video, do not include elements in it like culture-specific jokes, themes, holidays etc., that cannot be translated easily. The visual elements in your video, too, should easily resonate with different audiences.

Create the script for audio and video projects in either Excel, Word, PDF, or TXT files. This script will then have to be localized and approved. Once that’s done, it can be inserted into the video as subtitles.

Don’t just translate, adapt your content

You might be sitting on a pile of video assets that you need to translate for multilingual, multicultural audiences. You can subtitle, dub, or add voice overs. It may not be enough to do a word-for-word translation: some of the content may need to be adapted.

  • Consider cultural, social norms. If you are translating between cultures that are quite far apart, you need to be more careful. Jokes will fall flat in a verbatim translation. What’s worse, some phrases may simply be insulting, if not adapted. The linguist will have to be a native speaker of the target language to understand how the text can be translated for sense.
  • Localize dates, measurements, and other formats. These are the finer details that go towards improving the bigger picture. Make sure the numbers you use, date and time formats, addresses, measurements etc., follow the local standards.

Prioritize quality of translation and subtitles

You will be either creating or translating and subtitling a huge number of videos in the days to come. It may not be feasible for you to do all of this on your own. Apart from the volume of videos to be translated, consider that this is a job best left to professionals. Get smart, outsource video localization to an experienced translation and subtitling agency.

The agency will take care of the many details such as:

  • Allowing for text expansion. English takes far less space on screen than most other languages. You can also say things in a condensed manner in English. But in other languages, the fonts may take up to 30% more space. You may also have to use more words to describe the same thing. The challenge here is to make sure that the subtitles are in sync with on-screen action.
  • Subtitles formatting and placement. The subtitles must be formatted in such a way that they can be easily read on the screen. They must not clash with on-screen elements. Ideally, they must be placed in the bottom third of the screen, so that the video is easily visible.
  • Translating on-screen text. There may be text in the source language that is embedded in the video. The translation company can extract and translate this text, too, but it’s tedious work. So, it’s best to avoid embedding text in video.

Use the right tools

There are several tools available to speed up the work as well as improve the quality of the subtitles:

  • Translation memory. It is a database of subtitles that have already been created. You can simply re-use translated sentences or phrases that match those in the new content to be translated. This not only cuts down time required to translate, but also maintains a consistent quality.
  • Artificial intelligence-powered automation. Braahmam’s tech partner, Mediawen, provides AI-based speech-to-text tools that automatically generate transcripts. Transcripts are the first step in creating subtitles. It can take a lot of time to type them out as well as create time stamps manually. However, the Braahmam-Mediawen solution can deliver transcripts in much less time, with a layer of professional editing, if required.
  • Machine translation (MT). The transcripts can be translated to any number of languages with trained MT engines. The subtitles created this way can then be edited for style consistency and to eliminate any errors. The cleaned, approved translations will be used to fine-tune the MT engines and be a part of the translation memory.

Consider the file formats to use

Different audio and video formats exist. The popular ones for audio are:

  • mp3
  • wav
  • aif

For video, the preferred file formats are:

  • avi
  • mov
  • mp4
  • wmv
  • flv

These file formats are widely used. So, it will be easier for your video localization team to work with them.

Consider the platform to publish and distribute your videos

Where you choose to publish your video will determine quite a few things such as the subtitle file format, the subtitle type, and other considerations. For instance, if you wish to upload your video on YouTube or any other streaming video platform, it would be good idea to provide subtitles as a separate file, rather than embed them. They are known as closed captions denoted by the CC button. YouTube users are conversant with switching captions on and off and may even expect it that way.

Have you ever wondered what YouTube video watch time statistics are? For a deeper look at some fascinating stats, click here:

Youtube Watch Time Stats

Some social media platforms such as TikTok only support open captions. That is, the subtitles would need to be burned into the file.

Multilingual subtitles provide a winning edge to your videos. They not only help you to reach people who speak different languages, but they are also search engine-friendly. They make your video comprehensible in noisy environments. They also make your video accessible to people hard of hearing.

At Braahmam, we provide you all the resources you need – human as well as tech – to create world-class video localization. We are able to deliver within your deadlines and at affordable rates. Do get in touch with us today!

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