Basic Tips For Localising An English Video For Global Distribution

1. Is My Video Suitable For Localisation?

Some video content produced for the US or UK market will not be suitable for distribution in some EMEA (European, Middle East and Africa) regions, but will be fine in Western Europe and most parts of Asia.

When localising the narrative of a script, it is critical that language nuances are translated in a sensitive manner to ensure the content is culturally correct for the target audience.

Consideration of the visual interpretation is also as important as the narrative and you should always consider cultural, lifestyle differences and traditions in respect of the target language audience.

What’s my advice
If you are unsure about localising your video to certain regions, you should always ask a company who specialises in translation and localisation for advice.


2. Who Should I Commission To Translate And Localise The Script?

Localisation of media projects which will be shown in the public domain require qualified AVT (Audio Visual Translators) translators to not only translate and localise the script, but to also check the suitability of the visuals from an in-country perspective.

AVT translators are specialists in translating for the 3 modes of localisation which include dubbing, voiceover and subtitling.

There are plenty of high quality translation agencies available to transcribe and translate the narrative, however, you should always check with your agency to ensure AVT qualified translators are commissioned to undertake both the translation and independent proofreading.

A professional AVT translation service will cost on average around 18-21 pence a word to include project management, translation and proofreading. This rate is higher than a normal text based translation service which would partially use Machine Translation in the workflow.

What’s my advice
If you are happy with your localisation company, stay with them as you will have probably built up a solid working relationship and put in place agreed workflows and quality procedures that work for you.

If not, source a new company by using a competitive tendering process to request detailed workflows, costs and turnaround times to ensure you get the best deal and quality of service.


3. What AVT Mode Do I Use For My Target Language – Dubs or Subs?

This option really depends on your content, target country and distribution channels.

For broadcasters using long form programmes there is an established code of practice of where and when to use the 3 AVT Modes: Dubbing, Voice Over and Subtitling.

In general, dubbing countries have larger populations including Spain, Germany, Italy and France. Smaller EMEA and Nordic countries favour subtitling.

Dubbing replaces the source language dialogue and soundtrack with a lip-synced target language soundtrack, voiceover replaces the soundtrack with a single male and/or female narrator voicing the translation as opposed to a whole cast of actors. Subtitling will keep the original soundtrack and superimpose open captions onto the visual image.

For short form localisation, the jury is out on what AVT mode to use. With the prevalence of TV spots and promos now being distributed on-line there is a tendency to use a mix of dubbing, voiceovers and subtitling.

Voiceover.Cafe has also seen a rapid increase in the use of multiple closed caption subtitling files being embedded into short form on-line marketing videos. The translated text included in the closed caption files is used as metadata to drive SEO, monitisation and harvest valuable analytics.

This resource is a marriage made in heaven for for top marketing companies and video streaming providers like YouTube, Netflix, Amaon and Ooyala who specialise in distributing video content.

Typically, a 30 second or 2 minute promo with subtitle files translated into the Top 10 on-line Languages can reach a potential audience in excess of a billion users if tagged correctly.

What’s my advice
Talk to your marketing experts and see what AVT modes have worked best for you in the past and maybe try some split testing. All media projects and content are different and for on-line campaigns, try to think out of the box. We have recently been adapting TVC content into Bulgarian for an International drinks company for split testing and market research as this provides a low cost and high quality solution compared to testing in Germany, Spain and Italy.


4. Do I Need A ‘Transcreation’ Service?

‘Transcreation’ is a relatively new marketing term which relates to the process of translating and adapting a message from one language to another whilst maintaining it’s style, tone, intent and context.

In this post I use the term ‘Transcreation’ as a creative solution which is used by high end localisation agencies to guarantee that a translation is not just text based, but will look at the design, style and feel of a media product to ensure it has the required impact, calls to action and subliminal messages needed to engage with each in-country target audience.

Major brands who use transcreation agencies will often start with a creative brief as opposed to a text based wish list when creating a new multilingual TVC marketing campaign.

Some companies I have worked with provide a transcreation service to shorten or adapt text based translations where language expansion is a problem for projects with a fixed timeline. As an example, if you translate a 3 minute English video with a fast paced Voiceover, a German translation of the voiceover recorded at the same pace would run between 4-5 minutes. Therefore, if the video has a fixed duration, the script will need shortening or adapting to match the 3 minute timing.

What’s my advice
If you need a transcreation service for a global campaign with a realistic budget, go to a high end creative agency in London and be prepared to pay by the hour for a quality service which will in all probability return excellent ROI.

If you just need a script shortened and adapted, then use a localisation or translation service who provide AVT qualified translators who will charge by the word count.


5. What Is The Most Cost Effective Strategy To localise A Video Project For Global Distribution?

I would always advise clients, brand managers and production companies to build in a localisation strategy during the pre-production phases of all new commercial and corporate projects where there is a potential global marketplace for the product or service.

By planning ahead it can be really cost effective to localise short form video content as the only additional costs during post-production are for the script translation/transcreation, QA and generation of multi-lingual subtitles or voiceover recordings.

AVT translators need to work off a timed EMT (English Master Template) documents, so all the subtitles and voiceover sequences for each language will be timed exactly the same in all languages and straight forward for editing.

Online video editors will only need to import each voiceover or subtitles into the project timeline with minimal visual trimming for creating each localised master version.

Editors should always save and back up the English or original source master programme with a clean video file without the dialogue and music and effects (M+E) tracks so that if the client wanted to localise the video into a new language at a later date, the costs would be minimal as the clean video and split audio assets are available for conforming to a new language version.


6. How Much Does Localising A Video Cost?

Costs for translating short form video projects should be in the region of around £350.00 per language to include transcription, translation, proofreading, quality voiceover recordings and a final QA.  A transcreation service if required for dealing with target languages where text expansion becomes problematic would be around 25% more expensive. However, should your client require premium actors for the voiceovers then it all comes down to the rate of the talent. Usage is also a requirement and costs for 12 months usage for TV, VOD and Paid Online is on average around £1,500.00 dependent the size of the country.


If you found this post interesting, please feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues.

All comments are always appreciated and I am really interested in your personal interpretation of the term ‘Transcreation’