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Know Your Options for Video Translation

video translation services options

video translation services dubbing subtitlesUnderstand Your Options for Effective Video Translation

There are different ways to go about the process of video translation. Before we go into details, it is a good idea to explore some important concepts to facilitate the decisions on how are you going to perform your video translation.

What are the differences between dubbing and subtitles?  Which do people prefer, and which should your business choose for your video translation needs?  Before we compare them, let’s get a quick refresher on what each term means.

Dubbing is a form of audio replacement in which the original dialogue is replaced with dialogue recorded by voice actors in a studio.  Dubbing can mean the original set of actors re-recording their lines for the best sound, but we’re going to concentrate on dubbing by means of translating the original dialogue and recording the audio in that new language for international audiences.

Subtitling involves creating a transcript or translation of the dialogue in a video and applying it to appear on screen, usually at the bottom, to provide a visual representation of the words spoken.  Like dubbing, this can be done using the source language only or the source and any number of different target languages.  Captions are a form of on-screen script formatted specifically for those who cannot hear the audio.  They include brief descriptions of other sounds in the video, like thunder or heavy traffic.

To Dub or To Subtitle?

Dubbing or subtitles- how do you choose the translation technique you need for your multilingual video marketing strategy?  What are the pros and cons of both?  We’re going to look at the benefits and drawbacks of subtitles versus dubs to help illustrate what might best fit your needs.

A professional translation agency will be able to guide you to the best solution for each piece of media in your international marketing campaign.  They can explain the process, cost and time required for the translation of your videos.

Advantages of Dubbing

How is dubbing used?  Dubbing has a place in any video or audio piece where the audience needs to be able to hear the audio in their language.  Movies, cartoons, instructional and marketing videos, television shows, all make use of dubbing as a vehicle for language translation.  Let’s look at some benefits of using dubbing for video translation.

  • Dubbing facilitates access to an immense amount of information and entertainment. Viewers focus on a video quickly and easily when the audio is in their native language.  Studies have shown that in the case of a translated training video, the trainees absorb information faster if the video is dubbed in the new language instead of subtitled in that new language. The most effective approach would be b to have both options present.
  • Dubbing is good for viewers who process information better by hearing than by
  • Dubbing is helpful if there is a lot of dialogue or exposition going on in the video and text would take up too much screen space or time.
  • Dubbing is perfect for animation as there is more leeway in matching sound to screen.
  • Dubbing is useful for note-taking, since the writer does not have to look at the screen to understand the words.
  • Dubbing offers options. News-style voice-over uses one or two voice actors for all the speakers in a video.  Or, you can consider using narration with a single dubbed voice for all speakers.  These alternatives to traditional dubbing are cheaper but usually of lower quality.  The hybrid method, where some dialogue is dubbed and some content is subtitled, is useful for journalism and documentaries.

Disadvantages of Dubbing

Dubbing a video is an art and requires a lot of skill. It is an even more skilled and meticulous job when you are dubbing a video or movie in another language.

Dubbing offers much possibility but carries its own set of drawbacks.  Let’s look at some of the downsides of dubbing so you can identify any that might require special planning, as well as any deal-breakers.

  • Dubbing is a more expensive, time-consuming process. The script needs to be translated and timed carefully to match the movements in the video, voice overs need to be recorded in the new language, and editing and studio work is needed for final audio replacement.
  • Dubs must be done well and by experienced professionals. We’ve all seen dubs that sound funny, are poorly acted, or where the translation and sound is badly matched.
  • A particularly difficult aspect of dubbing is working to match the movements of the original actors’ mouths, called lip-synching, which gets even more expensive in a different language.
  • Language expansion is an issue that comes up in dubbing. Some languages just take longer to speak than others, so the actor may have to speak more quickly or slowly than usual.  The importance of revision of the script’s translation becomes critical to working with expansion of words.

Advantages of Subtitling

How are subtitles used?  Subtitles are popular for movies, news broadcasts, and videos, allowing studios to produce multiple language versions for distribution around the world.  Let’s look at some ways it might be best to allow your audiences to not only watch your videos but read them.

  • Subtitles help viewers who process information better by reading than by hearing. But it requires skills in the target language and focus on the screen.
  • Subtitles are great for learning languages. Watching a video with translated subtitles is an excellent way to pick up new vocabulary.
  • Subtitles allow you to hear the original actor’s vocal performance. Many people feel that movies simply flow better with subtitles, sounding smoother and more natural. This also helps with comprehension when the actor is not enunciating clearly or there is noise in the scene. Some hearing people like subtitles so they can pick out all the words when a character is speaking rapidly or has a heavy accent.
  • Subtitles and captions are accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing in all the languages.
  • Subtitles provide a valuable way for advertisers to get their message across in videos played without sound, this is common in social media.
  • Subtitles enable speakers of different languages to enjoy, study, talk about, and share videos easily and at small cost.

Disadvantages of Subtitling

Subtitles are limited by the amount of dialogue that must be translated to appear on screen and the amount of time that can be allotted.  Subtitle translators work to find a balance between a faithful translation and a well-timed block of text that will not hide the action.

  • Many people find subtitles distracting. It’s harder to concentrate on the video if you need to read text at the same time. I am used to subtitles since I used to see movies subtitled in Spanish when I was a little girl. But not everybody is used to reading subtitles.
  • Subtitles are of little or no help for the visually impaired or those who have trouble reading the language.
  • Scenes with a lot of dialogue or exposition will make the subtitles take up too much space on the screen unless they are condensed, which carries the risk of the words becoming stilted and less nuanced.
  • Subtitle translation involve text expansion and contraction, which presents a challenge for both screen space and timing. It takes time and skills to create adequate subtitles for a video, if the text is out of sync with the audio, the subtitles can appear late or early.

Trust a Professional Translation Company for Your Video Translation Needs!

Video translation for business is a great opportunity to communicate with clients and customers internationally in their languages.  Video Translation Services are a complex offering and requires knowledge and the right technology to be handled well.  Using a professional translation agency with experience in translation of videos is the first step to success.

We recommend planning ahead for video translation and starting a relationship with a translation company early to ensure that your project flows smoothly, stays within budget, and is finished on time.  Make sure to keep good records, with source files of all the elements of your video, so they can be located easily and supplied to the translation agency.  Make sure your translation company is aware of any graphics or titles that will need to be translated to avoid delays and extra costs.

If dubbing, subtitling, or a mix of both is right for your project, video translation is an exciting chance for you to reach a new audience with your brand’s message.  Video content is more popular than ever and when implemented on social media, websites, and in conferences, using professional video translation is a perfect way to harness that power for more views, shares, and website visits that lead to more sales.

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Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.