Dubs or Subs – 6 Basic Tips For Localising An English Video For Global Distribution

1. Should I Use Subtitles or Voiceovers For Localisation?

This is never an easy question to answer.  However, when dealing with English video content produced for the US or UK markets, the starting point is to decide on what is best for your target markets and audiences.  Distribution of English content  in some EMEA (European, Middle East and Africa) regions may not be suitable , but will be fine in Western Europe and most parts of Asia.

When localising the narrative of any 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.

A professional AVT translation service will cost on average around 16-20 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 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 countries, budget 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, China, LATAM, Brazil. 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 widely for on-line paid advertising, there is a tendency to use a mix of voiceovers and subtitling.

Subtitler.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 effectively used as metadata to drive SEO, monitisation and harvest valuable analytics.

This resource is a marriage made in heaven for both top marketing companies and video streaming providers like YouTube ( owned by Google), Vimeo, Netflix, Amazon 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 on-line audience in excess of a billion users if tagged correctly on the in-country search engines including Google, Baidu and Yandex.

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. 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 who are new to the new to the adaption process to build in a localisation strategy during the pre-production phases of all new commercial and corporate projects where there is a 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 for 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 adapted master version.

Post-production editors should always save and back up the English or original source master programme with a clean video file without the mixed 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.


5. How Much Does Localising A Video Cost Using Multilingual Voiceovers?

Costs for adapting non-broadcast multilingual voiceovers for short form video projects should be in the region of around £400.00 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.

Costs for adapting broadcast multilingual voiceovers for short form video projects where broadcast usage is also a requirement is completely dependent on the market and costs for 12 months usage for TV, VOD and Paid Online is on average around £1,200.00 dependent the size of the country.  In Europe, German costs will be x 4 of a smaller market such as Belgium.


          6. How Much Does Localising A Video Cost Using Multilingual Subtitles?

Costs for adding subtitles to short form video projects should be in the region of around £100.00 per language to include transcription, creation of a timed SRT file, translation, proofreading and a final QA.

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