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Video localisation: 5 language problems you need to address

Video localisation moves beyond simple translation to make your footage more compelling and viewable for each of your target audiences. Done correctly, localisation will make the process of translating your videos faster, more cost-effective and dramatically increase the quality of your translations for each market.

It will also help you overcome some of the biggest language challenges involved with creating multilingual videos. In this article, we’re looking at five language problems you need to address and how localisation will help you solve them.

#1: Getting the right translation

Your first video localisation task is often the most difficult because far more goes into quality translation than you might realise. Ideally, you want to know who your target audiences are and which languages you need to translate for before you start filming your video. This will give you a major advantage when it comes to solving the other challenges mentioned in this article, but first, you need to make sure the right quality of translation is achieved.

How difficult this is going to be will depend on the nature of your video, the complexity of the language involved and the target languages you need to translate into. Make sure you know who your target audiences are and bring in professional translators to help you get it right the first time.

#2: Subtitles vs captions vs voice overs

One of the most important choices you need to make during the translation process is whether to deliver your translated content by using subtitles, captions or voice overs. We’ve written about the pros and cons of each method on this blog before and the key thing is to understand what your audience needs from your content and how suitable your video is for each translation method.

There’s no right answer to this question and it helps if you have language professionals on board who can help you make the right decision.

#3: Text expansion (or audio expansion)

One of the biggest problems with translating video is that language tends to grow when you convert it from English into another language. Essentially, your words and sentences become longer, which means your German subtitles are going to be roughly 30% more text-heavy than your English script. This means your subtitles are going to take up more space and take longer for your audience to read than you might anticipate.

This can cause problems if you already have very lengthy sentences, rapid dialogue or fast cuts that mean viewers won’t be able to read subtitles before certain scenes end.

The same problem can occur with voice overs, too, although you have some level of control by being able to change the speed to some extent. However, it’s much better to film with these issues in mind so you can leave enough time for your translations to sink in.

#4: Language clashes

When you’re translating a video, it can be difficult to avoid language clashes that make translation, localisation and, ultimately, watching your video more difficult. It could be two people arguing and talking over each other or important text being visible on-screen when someone is already talking – anything that leaves viewers with more than one piece of information to digest in a foreign language.

The problem for you is that you can’t have two voice overs running at the same time and subtitles or captions for multiple speakers/sources can be troublesome.

Once again, it’s best to be aware of this potential problem and do what you can to reduce any instances where you need to translate multiple things at the same time.

#5: Issues beyond words

Finally, you also need to think beyond the words with localisation. Dates, currencies, phone numbers, addresses and various other pieces of information may need to be formatted for each target audience.

In some cases, you may even need to think about other on-screen elements, such as colours, props, imagery, etc. and decide whether these should be changed or if more context needs to be provided. For example, if you’ve got a wall covered in historical newsprints that provides the background for your video or even one of the people in it, some kind of context should be provided, even if you’re not translating the words.

Translation is always at the heart of video localisation, but this service goes beyond the words to ensure every viewer is able to understand your footage on a deeper level. For more information about how you can make localisation more time and cost-effective, get in touch with our team of experts today.

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