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Video Translation Tips and Best Practices

video translations

Last updated on January 31st, 2023 at 04:14 pm

video translation services best practices

Video translation is key to expand the reach of your video, and the best way to get it right is to go into the video creation with the knowledge that the video will be translated. This allows you to plan, prepare, and create the video in such a way that makes the translation process smoother, as video translations are complex translation projects.

General tips for Video Translation Projects:

1. Provide a transcript, preferably a time-coded one.
2. Be sure the video is finalized before translation to save time, cost, and headache!
3. Determine if there will be on-screen text, and if so, whether or not it will be translated.
4. If there is on-screen text that needs to be edited, either the source file or the video source text will be required.
5. If your video will be hosted by a larger broadcaster, be sure to look into their rules for on-screen text and what kinds of translation is acceptable. For example, both Netflix and the BBC have publicly available rules. Please let your translation services company know if you are looking to meet a certain standard upfront, so no rework is required!
6. Be aware that sentence length varies in each language – if you are recording in English and translating into Spanish, there can be up to a 25% expansion in sentence length. So do not edit your English video too tightly and give us room for the translations.
7. Provide limitations of length if you have any.
8. Let the provider know if you have extra footage to use.
9. Have the music of your video available for the final product.

Multilingual Dubbing

Dubbing is good for documentaries and training videos, and all videos where the visuals are particularly important – the viewer can then watch the translated video rather than read the subtitles which can distract from the visuals.

You can learn more about dubbing pros and cons in our previous blogs “Dubbing and Subtitling: The Battle Of The Voices”  or Dubbing and Localization.

There are four kinds of dubbing and they also apply to the new version of the video in the new language: Lip Sync, Voiceover, Lector style, and U.N. Style.

  • To be brief, Lip Sync dubbing is when the new audio is specifically made to match the original speaker’s mouth movements and the original audio is removed completely.
  • The Voiceover option does not match the original speaker’s movements of lips, but still needs to capture the emotion, style of speech, and follows changing cues of the video. Voiceover can entirely replace the original audio.
  • Lector style is the preferred method of dubbing by Netflix and is where both the original audio and translated audio are heard together but the original audio is presented in lower volume so it makes the translated audio is easy to follow.
  • Lastly, U.N. Style is much like Lector style in that two audios are playing simultaneously. However, U.N. Style has the original language come in on time, at full volume, before introducing the translated audio whereas Lector style has both audios starting simultaneously.
  • U.N. Style Dubbing is often used for documentaries and speeches to preserve the authenticity of the piece.

Multilingual Dubbing tips and Best practice

  • The most important tip of all, for any project, is to remember that it takes different amounts of time to say the same thing in different languages. This can be particularly important for a project where you are translating from English to Spanish or German. If the English speaker is speaking quickly, the speaker recording in the new language will need to speak even quicker to ensure that everything is said in the same amount of time. If possible, allow on-screen actors to speak at a normal pace. If there are no on-screen actors, it is still helpful to include pauses that would allow for the audio of the target language audience to catch up.
  • Determine beforehand if any musical portions are going to be covered – the voice actors chosen will need to be able to sing as well as speak if that portion will be translated.
  • Always send a low-resolution version of the video to the translation company, so they can have the full context of what is happening in your video for the proper plan, quote, and execution of your video translation request.

Multilingual Subtitling and Captioning

Subtitling and captions are increasingly popular in every industry. The usage of multilingual subtitles is an easy, cost-effective, and fast approach to translate a video. Subtitles are useful to a wide range of people:

  • People who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • For organizations that are better at reading the video’s language than speaking it.
  • People who do not know the video’s language and need translated subtitles.
  • People in noisy locations.
  • People in locations where it is not appropriate to have the sound on or up.
  • People on social media platforms, who may not have the sound on or do not want to turn the sound on.

Subtitles are also called timed text. Here are some things to consider when creating subtitles or captions.

Subtitling Tips and Best Practices

  • Consider the speed and organization of the information given verbally – if a speaker is speaking very quickly, it can be difficult for the person reading the subtitles to keep up. The translated subtitles will follow the same subtitles in the original if they were present or will need to match the audio of the original language.
  • On-screen text and graphics may get in the way of the traditional locations for subtitles. Ideally, the position of the subtitles will be predetermined and left clear during the production and editing of the original production.
  • If you have a preference for the styling of the subtitles, let the translator know before they fully render the file! If you are working with a larger broadcaster, they may have specific requirements or fonts. Be sure to double-check to provide the information on time and avoid re-work and delays.
  • If you have music in the video, let the translator know if they should add the music note symbol around lyrics.
  • Another styling choice to make is the justification of the subtitles. Most are either centered or left-justified. It may be best to stick with left-justified if there are multiple speakers present. If there is a single, consistent speaker, centered is preferred.
  • Determine if you would like each speaker to have their own color within the subtitles.
  • Determine if you want captions or subtitles before beginning the project, as each requires different file formats.
  • Do you want the translations to be separate from the video and therefore able to be turned on and off?
  • Do you want them to note sounds and vocal cues? If so, would you like them to use brackets or parentheses?
  • If you are having the translation services company burn the subtitles onto the video, have the expected export specifications clear, and be sure the file you provide allows them to meet the indicated specifications. It is important to know the requirements you are going to validate after the translated video is ready.

The localization of a video opens new markets and opportunities for your content by producing it in other languages. Due to the complexity of the translation project, the choices, and the sequential nature of the process, it is important to have your goals clear and follow best practices to get the most of the video translation service on budget and on time.

Victoria Wildow
Victoria Wildow
Since 2018, Victoria Wildow has put her problem-solving, technology-centered mind to use in her roles as a Translation Project Manager, Typesetter, and now Marketing Associate at JR Language. She is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Media Arts and Technology program. Victoria helps ensure our clients' various designs maintain the same look and feel in their new languages while also managing projects in various media. She loves learning about new technologies and is currently developing websites in her free time.