Tips for Translating And Localising Chinese Video Content

Are you using video ads for selling your products or services online and want to penetrate the Chinese marketplace?  

Demand and sales for luxury European products in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are now out stripping the traditional commercial heartlands of London, Paris and New York and this is a trend which will continue into the foreseeable future with the development and high consumer demands of the new Chinese middle classes.

Therefore, the question to ask yourself is ‘Should I be using video content for marketing online in China?’

Well it’s a no brainer, Chinese internet users are now over 700 million strong and growing.  The main search engines used in China are Baidu with a 70% share followed by Qihoo 360 and Sogou.  90% of Chinese use Simplified Mandarin for searching online and very few will use an English search engine or a translation tool.

The need to localise English video content into Mandarin is increasing exponentially, yet many translation and production companies struggle with a quality and accurate localisation process which meets the needs of the Chinese audience. This is due to the fact that the two languages are from 2 very different language families, Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan.

So what are the key issues we need to consider?

  1. TRANSCRIPTION – Always prepare your timed English transcript prior to the translation stage in numbered sentences or paragraphs. Do not break down the script into lines or phrases as the translators will find it difficult to manage.  The structure of the Chinese language is very different to European languages and some content set at the start of a sentence or paragraph in English will be completely reversed in Chinese.
  1. TRANSLATION – Always check the target language is correct for your audience.  Simplified Mandarin for mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia, Traditional Mandarin for Guangdong province of China and Hong Kong (sometimes referred to as Cantonese) Taiwan Mandarin or Taiwanese.   We always use trained translators and an independent proof reading service for all localisation projects and it is essential for both the translator and proof reader to view the video as an audio visual reference aid during the translation process.
  1. TIMING ISSUES – For ’timed to picture’ voiceover projects, translation is relatively easy, but can expand by around 15% during the translation process, so you need to take this issue into account for re-versioning if you have set durations on your English videos.  English reading speeds on video range from 125 words a minute for a slow paced video, 150 words for a medium paced and 175 words a minute for a fast paced. Chinese reading speed is between 4 – 6 Chinese characters per second, 4 being a slow pace and 6 being fast.  Always brief the translator in advance if they need to keep the timing exact for a video translation project. .
  1. VOICE OVER RECORDING –Always prepare a list of instructions for the voice artist for tone, pace and style of the recording and you need the number each sentence recorded in English as a reference for video editors. In addition, provide pronunciation guidelines for English brand names, processes, acronyms, place and people names which need to be pronounced in English to follow your corporate branding guidelines. Record your voiceovers with a trained voice artist and the format should be 16 Bit 48Khz WAV files.  These are high quality audio files and can be encoded for the appropriate online distribution channels.  The voice artist should also view the English video as a style guide for tone and pace and for the pronunciation of keywords identified in your instructions which need to be recorded as per the English version.
  1. QUALITY ASSURANCE – Always get your final Chinese video version QA checked by your proof reader or a Chinese client before release! This is a simple process, just send a low-res MP4 video online and request feedback.

If you need any further information about localising your video content, please get in touch with us at Voiceover.Cafe


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