How to Improve Your Video Translation & Subtitling

Published on February 2nd, 2023

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Subtitling is one of the most popular approaches to video translation but producing quality subtitles is more difficult than it appears. The translation stage involves a variety of language challenges but there are also technical aspects to subtitle production to consider. In this article, we look at key strategies and best practices that can help improve the quality of video translation and subtitling.

Choose subtitles for the right reasons

Video subtitling is one of several approaches to translating footage, and assessing its pros and cons is important. One benefit of subtitling, as previously discussed in our blog, is that it is generally the most affordable approach to translating video content, but this does not necessarily mean it is the best solution for every scenario.

Here’s a quick summary of the most common approaches to translating video content:

  1. Subtitling: This method translates the dialogue in videos and potentially, any on-screen text that appears in footage.
  2. Closed captions (CC): Aside from translating dialogue, captions also provide important contextual information to indicate who is speaking and describe important audio elements and sounds such as crowd noises, traffic, phones ringing, etc.
  3. Voice-overs: This places a translated dialogue track on top of the original dialogue – commonly used for interviews, documentaries and lifestyle programmes.
  4. Dubbing: This method replaces the original dialogue with new, translated dialogue tracks.

The best approach varies from one project to the next, and in some cases, a mix of different strategies might be required in order to provide the best viewing experience. If you want to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of video subtitling – and the other approaches to video translation – the following articles can provide more information:

Hire professional video translation & subtitling services

The best way to improve the quality of video translations and subtitling is to invest in quality language services. Professional agencies that specialise in video translation and subtitling (these are two different services by the way) will help you get the best results.

This is because expert video translators, for example, are familiar with the production and preparation of complex files for subtitlers to work with. Basically, you don’t want to hand over a text document to subtitlers and expect them to spend valuable time separating text lines etc. Spreadsheets, with each line of text separated for them, are more useful and help avoid any delays and potential confusion. Providing contextual information within such files is also highly recommended.

When it comes to the subtitling process, professional subtitlers can sync the text of each language version perfectly with your footage. They can also provide the subtitle files in a preferred format, whether they have been hard-coded into video files (generally, not recommended) or as separate files (e.g. .srt files).

Video translation and subtitling are more technical than many would expect. This another reason why working with a professional video translation service provider is by far the best approach to improve the quality of multilingual videos.

Incorporate video localisation into your translation strategy

Translation alone often is not enough to optimise the viewing experience for different language audiences. Depending on the type of footage you’re dealing with, other elements of the video, other than spoken dialogue, may need to be optimised.

For example, eLearning videos can include a lot of on-screen text and data visualisations with other text and numerical values.

This text will also need translating and numerical values may need to be adapted to the local format. Ideally, you don’t want multiple lines of subtitles on the screen at any one time or subtitles for both dialogue and on-screen text.

In this scenario, the best approach is to localise the visual elements of the footage. For example, producing graphs for each target language and inserting them into the relevant language version of the footage.

Video localisation is a broad language service that can cover a lot of ground, so speaking to a language service provider about such projects can help clear out any potential questions on the subject and benefits of this service.

Need to improve your video translation & subtitling?

If your current video translation and subtitling strategy needs improvement, our experienced team of video translators and subtitlers can help. Get in touch with your request and project details by filling out the form on our contact page and one of our team members will get back to you.

Posted on: February 2nd, 2023