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Video Translation Services, what you should know

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Last updated on May 23rd, 2023 at 09:09 am

video translation services what do Video Translation how to get started

Now you see it…

As our online world grows bigger, the devices we use to interact with it grow smaller, from large desktop computers to smartphones and tablets.  What would have fascinated us twenty years ago might not hold our attention for a minute today.  But one type of interactive marketing has stood the test of time and continues to grow in popularity: video.

According to market research, 90% of online shoppers report that seeing a video about a product helps them decide whether to purchase.  Websites with embedded videos see a much higher conversion rate, and sales emails that include video content can double, even triple their click-through numbers.  The data makes sense; we are visual creatures.  Incorporating video content into your business’s marketing strategy makes your products and services stand out and be memorable. Video Translation helps you engage more people with your company and brand.

Read our previous posting covering “Why Video Marketing Translation is Key to Your Business Strategy”.

Now you don’t?

The online world is a reflection of the desires and values of our living, breathing world, and as such it is comprised of hundreds of languages, all unique and evolving.  Internet video giant YouTube boasts a growth rate of three hundred hours of video per minute, with 70% of its users living outside the United States and posting videos in hundreds of languages.   That’s a lot of multilingual content and a challenge for localization is you are translating your videos into one or several of those languages.  Many brands find it worthwhile to run their own video channels, and upload content on other video and image hosts, such as Instagram and Twitch.

With only 5% of internet users in 2018 speaking English as their native language, any business wanting to reach a large, diverse market must make video translation services part of their marketing strategy or they will cheat themselves out of that goal.

How can video translation work for me?

Video globalization does not just apply to sales and marketing videos.  Its applications are endless.  Here are a few of the areas where the use of video translation services plays an important role.

  • Film production.  Chances are you know someone who is a fan of foreign cinema, or you may be one yourself.  Taking in a film made overseas is a fun way to get a little exposure to a culture other than your own, or to help learn a language by hearing it spoken, reading subtitles, or both.  Translating these movies is not simply a matter of having bilingual actors reading the script.  The scripts must be professionally translated by those fluent in both the source and the target language to preserve all the subtle nuances the filmmakers want to convey, including jokes, insults, and cultural references.
  • Manufacturing.  More and more manufacturing companies are opening factories overseas, and much of their training content is in video format.  You should not trust the translation of a safety video to a bilingual employee.  Only a professional translation company should be relied upon to ensure that your employees get the proper instructions on staying safe in their work environment.  A small slipup can cause someone to get hurt and the business to open itself to lawsuits.  Instructional videos must also be professionally translated.  These save immense amounts of time and money by being reusable.  A strong, consistent script will make it easier to translate the video into multiple languages while retaining accuracy.
  • Medicine.  It is not always realistic for a physician to perform a procedure in front of a group of medical students.  After all, some practices do not change much, and new doctors are always being trained.  On the other hand, new and specialized procedures are always being developed, and medical staffs all over the world need to be trained in their use.  Professional video translation by a professional translator skilled in medical terminology is the only way to ensure accuracy so that the video can be used to help patients and the advancement of science through sharing of knowledge and techniques.
  • Education.  Many courses are available online, or the instructor may wish to show a video in the classroom.  These have great value in that they can be reused and distributed to large numbers of students.  No one should miss out on a full education due to a lack of translated video.  Universities and many e-learning companies are making use of video translation services to globally expand the reach of their e-learning courses.
  • Tourism.  Translated videos are an excellent way to show travelers what awaits them in an area of the world they are thinking about visiting.  How can a travel agency convince someone to visit another country if they cannot show them the highlights in their native language?  The tourism industry can be very helpful to world travelers with videos introducing them to the languages they will encounter, travel safety tips, and recommendations on how to better fit into diverse cultures.  The tourism and travel sector markets product and services effectively by using subtitles and voice over attracting new clients in their own language.

How do I get started?

Having your video content translated can seem like a vague and daunting task.  If you even suspect before creating a video that you may have it translated into other languages, there are things you can do to prepare that will save time and money.  Not planning ahead is one of the costliest decisions any business owner can make.  JR Language has some helpful tips on video translation to get you started on your journey to reach the world with your brand.

  • Keep the script or create a transcript of the video’s content.  If the translation company must make the transcript, that will take extra time and cost money.  Important pieces can be reused, saving time, money, and effort.
  • Keep all intermediate work and file types that are compiled into a video.  All clips, images, text, music, etc.  These may need to be altered or substituted according to the audience and their cultural preferences.
  • Decide whether to use captions or subtitles.  These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences.  Captions can be turned on or off, while subtitles generally cannot.  Captions are intended for the deaf or hard-of-hearing and include not only the spoken language but atmospheric notations such as “birds singing” or “voices in the background.”  Subtitles assume that the person watching can hear but does not speak the language used in the video.
  • Decide if you will use voice-over, and if so, what kind.  Voice-over is a catchall term used for when a person’s voice speaking the target language is used over the original voice in the source language.  There is news or UN-style voice-over, in which the source language can still be heard quietly while audio in the target language plays over it.  Then there is dubbing, in which the sound of the source language is replaced altogether with the target language.  A professional voiceover artist can be a great investment, but having a translator speak may work just as well, and can reduce mistakes in cadence and pronunciation.  If no speaker is visible, that is narration, which can be convenient as long as the audio lines up well with the visuals.
  • Pay close attention to the timing of your video.  If runtime is tightly constrained in your video Translation project, every second must be accounted for.  Language and text expansion is a factor when translating any video; some languages take more words than others to express the same idea, and some words and phrases might not have an equivalent in the target language.  Timing of the video must be done to help guide the new video in other languages.  A few extra seconds can create problems when matching an on-camera description.  If there is no room for language expansion, that will make the process more difficult.  Most of the time, it is impossible to trim some content, so make sure to factor in some wiggle room in your video footage, and also keep extra footage available. 


Once you have determined the parameters of the video you want to have translated, there are more decisions to be made to effectively localize your content.  Remember that consistency and cultural significance is vital and has priority in localizing your content to your target audience’s preferences and needs.

  • Pay attention to the colors and images used in your video.  Different colors convey different moods across the world; so choose accordingly.  Take care in selecting the images so as to attract customers, not offend them.  In many countries, notably China, red is lucky, but in South Africa, it is the color of mourning.  Thailand has a tradition of associating each day of the week with its own color.
  • Decide whether acronyms will be kept abbreviated or spelled out.  In both instances, decide whether they should remain in the source language or be translated into the target language, which may have a different alphabet.
  • If your video contains music, choose tunes that will be familiar to the ears of your audience and fitting for the tone of the video.
  • Will you use male or female actors and speakers, or both?
  • Select the color of your caption and colors well and appropriate them into the video so they can be read easily.
  • Monitor the use of humor and colloquialisms.  These vary widely between cultures and a joke that is impossible to understand will turn potential buyers off.  Pay close attention to any gestures the actors make.  For instance, the “okay” sign we use in the US, making a circle with our thumb and pointer finger, is considered very rude in other countries, for example for Brazil.

The eye of the beholder

Video content can serve any purpose imaginable, from entertainment to education, training, demonstration, and more.  A professional translation company knows that timing is important, for instance, for a video demonstrating a process, the runtime of the translated speech must match that of the source video or the result will not be useful.  If the demonstrator on screen is pointing at a different object or performing a different part of the process in a training video but the voice heard is still on the prior step, that video will be confusing, and not be any good.

A professional translation company will be prepared for cultural differences and will use only professional translators that are not only fluent in the source and target languages but who hail from the same cultural group as the target audience as well.  This will serve not only to create a quality video but to expose your brand to an entirely new audience, attract new customers and improve your company’s image.  Only use professional translation services for your video project, they will know what to do before and after the camera rolls……
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and 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. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.