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Audio and Video Translation

High quality audio and video translation for brand engagement

Audio and video content have far greater pull in marketing than mere textual content. Consumers not only watch the video before they make a buy decision, but as Google found out they are watching video even while in the store for the purchase. A strong trend in multimedia marketing is personalization. And one of the ways you personalize audio and video is to translate it into the language of the viewer. Audiovisual translation is also much in demand today, thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. We discuss below the different options available to you in localizing video and audio files and some best practices to adopt to turn your viewers into engaged customers.

What is this service exactly?

Audio and video localization: what are your options?

Audio and video localization: what are your options?

What to keep in mind when localizing video and audio content

What to keep in mind when localizing video and audio content

It’s often cheaper and faster to translate videos than to create a video from scratch for a new market.  You can choose from among the following options, depending on the use case, budget, and quality requirements. In some domains such as e-learning, you may use all three options in the same content.

Dubbing: It refers to replacing the audio track of the original footage with an audio track in the translated language. A voice actor says the lines in such a way so as to sync it with the original actors’ lip movements. In a well-dubbed video, the viewer notices no difference between the original and the dubbed one, except for the language, of course.

Dubbing is usually a more expensive option than voice-over or subtitling, because of the level of accuracy for achieving perfect lip-sync.  . However, it’s preferred in some markets such as France, Spain, Germany, and Italy where people are used to dubbed Hollywood movies since long. In the entertainment domain involving content such as TV series and movies, dubbing is the preferred option.

Voice over: Voice-overs are required for various applications in a basic narration form, such as in  audiobooks and eBooks in the publishing industry to very specialized applications, such as gaming.    However, it’s different from dubbing in terms of the style and application. In a voice-over, just translation of the content to convey meaning is enough in case of narrations but may require creative work when ity come sto gaming applications. -.

Voice overs are often used in e-learning and training content translation, as it’s can be non-intrusive in the learning process. Often e-learning videos can have a lot of on-screen information or multiple speakers even. Voice overs, when done well, can make the content look and sound professional and make learning easy.

Voice overs can be critical in shaping brand recognition, especially in advertisements and commercials where the audience starts relating a strong voice actor with the brand. In corporate videos, too, whether internal or not, the quality of the voice acting will be remembered and a connection made with the brand.

While dubbing remains a high-quality choice in the media sector, voice overs are used many a time in animation and broadcasting too. In video games, where voice overs are extensively used, the voice actors are required to be familiar with the characters in the game, dominant themes, and overall tone. This will help actors in delivering authentic sounding voice overs in the local language.

Voice overs are also a much used service in translating videos in the healthcare and financial services sectors.

Subtitling: Before one starts subtitling, one needs to transcribe the files. Next, time stamps and time codes are added to the file. Time stamps help mark events (for example, when speakers change) or intervals (for example, a gap in the audio). Time-coded scripts are frame-specific and are accurate to the millisecond. The file is then translated by expert AV translators, making sure the translations sync with the scene changes in the video.

Subtitling is the most budget-friendly and quick option in translating videos. It has very wide applications: the latest one being live captioning of online events such as Zoom meetings. The two most common methods of subtitling are closed and open captioning.

Closed captioning (also called softsubs or same language subtitling), among other things, is required to comply with accessibility rules in some countries. It helps in making the audio or video file or program accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. On streaming services such as Facebook Live, YouTube, or Vimeo, it’s marked as CC and is a toggle switch that the user can turn on or off. Closed captioning files are separate from the AV track and hence can be edited easily.

Open captioning or hardsub files, on the other hand, are burned into the video. That is, they are always visible in the video: the viewer does not have to switch them on or off.

There exists a huge variety of subtitling file formats and many of them are proprietary: MicroDVD, MPSub, SAMI, XSUB are some well-known file formats.

Localizing is more than translation. A localized multimedia file will not only be in-language, but also be attuned to the societal and cultural likes and dislikes of the people for whom it is intended. Here are a few tips to successfully localize audio-visual content:

  • Create translatable videos in the first place. When you create videos for global marketing, make sure they lend themselves to translation. For instance, do not embed text in the video, as it cannot be translated. Also, depending on what type of video it is and which markets you are looking to distribute it in, don’t make it very specific to one locale. That is, if the actors in the video are referring to a local event or representing the local culture in any way, it may lose relevance or imply different things in another culture.
  • Be careful with humor: it does not translate across cultures. Yet, when you have actors in the video guffawing over something, you must make sure to say something equally funny in the local language to get the viewers similarly excited. This is tough, as humor is more often than not very local. That is, local metaphors and mannerisms are at work here. If not done right, it can easily backfire.
  • Use of technology. Workflow management tools are available to handle the complete subtitling process in the cloud. This is vital as AV files can be typically very heavy and downloading and uploading them can be very time- and resource-intensive for translators who may be located anywhere in the world. Cloud-based production tools offer other features such as live preview, automated linguistic quality assurance, or sharing files for online review and editing. Usually, you can work with any file formats on these tools and they can also be easily integrated with your enterprise systems. While subtitling itself is a highly creative and specialized task that needs to be done by professionals, use of tech solutions can go a long way in speeding up the work of AV translators.
  • Take advantage of professional audio and video translation services. AV localization is a lot more than just translating the speech, as there are many technical and cultural aspects involved. Outsourcing it to a language services provider (LSP) lets you focus on your video marketing efforts. The LSP is capable of recruiting quality voice actors and translators and scale up or down as needed.

Viewers across the globe are not only consuming more video and audio content, but also becoming quite quality-conscious. So, often times, in-language multimedia content is not only expected, but is also taken as a given. However, brand engagement and loyalty will follow only where the viewers find quality, as video proliferates. Invest in solid audio/video localization processes to reach out to customers who only expect the best from you.

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