Video localization: 7 things you need to consider

Table of content
  1. Introduction
  2. 1. The impact of different languages
  3. 2. Subtitles help viewers remember your message
  4. 3. Subtitles can increase time spent watching
  5. 4. Synchronized vs Non-synchronized dubbing
  6. 5. Does your message lie in the visuals?
  7. 6. What is video localization of your budget?
  8. 7. Music considerations
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8 years ago・4 min read

As of late 2015 it is estimated that 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Snapchat and Facebook revealed that combined they account for 14 billion video views every day. And if those numbers don’t seem crazy enough, it’s said that by 2019, 80% of all internet traffic will be video. Online video is growing like crazy all around the world, and with this growth comes new challenges for brands and marketers as they work online video into their marketing plans. One of these challenges is video localization.

Content that is locally targeted has six times more engagement than content designed for a global market. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a video to be translated into other languages and localized for different cultures.

Video localization has been happening almost since the beginning of film and television. And it has become increasingly common as film and video spreads across the globe.

Hollywood films are spread everywhere from South America to China. Whereas cartoons and films from eastern Asia have become popularized in the United States.

Taking video and using it in a different country, though, requires a localization process. This involves uses subtitles, dubbing the video into a native language, and using a culturally appropriate sountrack to make the film engaging for a new audience.

When localization is done correctly, a video can be as engaging and entertaining in a new culture as it was in its original one.

1. The impact of different languages

English requires fewer words to communicate a message than most other languages do. This can have a significant impact on subtitling.

When translating from English into another language, you have to take into consideration that the spoken and written elements will be longer than the original English.

Subtitling requires that you consider the space to communicate effectively.

2. Subtitles help viewers remember your message

Subtitling can increase the chance your audience will remember your message. The combination of an audio track alongside a subtitled dialogue can also increase what your audience remembers.

This is especially important if you want your audience to remember keywords and phrases, which is often the case when trying to sell a brand or product.

3. Subtitles can increase time spent watching

Audiences often enjoy videos dubbed into their first language, particularly when the video is long. However, several studies have shown that subtitling a video can actually increase the time that viewers will spend watching.

Trials have suggested that by adding subtitles you’ll increase the time spent watching a video by over 40%, with over 80% more people watching all the way to the end of the video! Those are big numbers.

4. Synchronized vs Non-synchronized dubbing

The most basic form of voiceover is non-synchronized dubbing. In this process, the original language spoken is removed from the video and replaced with the language you are translating into.

Although some attempt to synchronize the lip and mouth movement may occur, this form of dubbing is often flawed.

This in contrast to synchronized dubbing. Synchronized dubbing attempts to sync word choices and the voiceover itself with the original actor’s lip movement.

5. Does your message lie in the visuals?

Voiceovers have an advantage when you want your audience to focus more on the images on-screen than on the words. Subtitling alongside dubbing may increase the memory of certain phrases. But there are times when the images on-screen are more important. In this case, voiceover work without subtitles might be advantageous.

6. What is video localization of your budget?

The type of voiceover you choose might depend on your financial investment. Dubbing can be as much as 15 times more costly than subtitling, especially when attempting highly synchronized dubbing. However, films spoken in a native language can be very attractive to a potential audience.

7. Music considerations

Video localization is limited to spoken audio. If there is music within the video, you will most likely want to replace that as well. Music is often very culture-centric and has less of an impact when introduced into foreign cultures. In addition to changing the voiceover audio, you will want to use music that is culturally applicable and evokes the type of mood you desire.

Choosing good music does not mean just choosing music common to the target culture. But one that evokes the emotions you want your audience to feel.

Following these basic tips, you will be able to create a localized video with a high degree of professional flare.

By planning ahead, you will save yourself unnecessary time spent having to translate a piece repeatedly in order to match voiceover work and subtitles to the speakers on the screen.