Do you use video to educate and inform your international audiences?

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast, the shift to video will continue to accelerate. By 2021, video will make up 82% of all IP traffic. Currently, YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world after Google. The benefits of video for demonstration and training purposes are obvious. Video shows process in a way that still images and text simply cannot.

To reach an international audience,

translating and localizing your videos is a must.

Video that has been created with localization in mind creates fewer headaches during the translation process. Culture, visual design, audio, and pacing all need to be taken into account to create an easily localizable video. If you treat localization as an afterthought, you will run into trouble.

Step 1: Take culture into account

Always start from a finished, vetted script and storyboard in your source language. Keep in mind that these elements will be used when your localization partner syncs the audio and the visuals.

  • Submit storyboard and script for cultural review BEFORE you start shooting. Certain images, jokes, and concepts might fall flat with the target audience. The goal of a cultural review is to identify and remove or replace offensive or confusing elements to create a “culture-neutral” source video. Unless you are a member of a culture, you can’t always predict what is going to look or sound bad! A good cultural reviewer will be conservative in flagging problems.

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Step 2: Design for localization

  • Limit onscreen text. Use icons instead of words whenever you can.
  • Keep the bottom of the screen clear and uncluttered. If you plan to use subtitles, this is where they will appear, and you don’t want to obscure them.
  • Try to limit the use of words overall, if you can. Fewer words = easier localization.

Step 3: Voiceovers or subtitles?

  • Subtitles are less expensive than voiceovers, because voiceovers require professional recording by voice talents. However, as TTS (text to speech) technology improves, it may be appropriate for some types of videos.
  • Voiceover can be the better choice if you want the viewer to focus closely on the screen images. This is especially true of how-to or training videos.
  • If you plan to use voiceovers, limit the amount of on-screen speech by characters or talking heads. Lip-synching (dubbing) is expensive and time-consuming. Offscreen narration is easier to localize.
  • If you use voiceovers, be prepared to provide guidance on pronunciation of names and acronyms.

Step 4: Pacing and syncing for localization

  • Don’t include too many sync points (places where words and visuals need to align perfectly). Sentences in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese are structured differently than English.  If you get too fancy with your animation, and you need lots of sync points, it’s going to require more time and expense to line up the voice-overs (or subtitles) with the on-screen animation.
  • If you are using voice-overs, slow down the pacing of the source video. It takes longer to say something in most western European languages than it does in English.  Don’t make the voiceover talent “speed read” the narration in order to keep up with the images. Slowing the pace is particularly important for demonstrations of equipment or machines. Your instinct may be to keep the pace lively, to hold the viewer’s attention, but speed WILL throw a wrench into the localization process.

In conclusion,

It’s always best to have a conversation with your localization team before you start work on a video, and to keep the lines of communication open as the process unfolds.

Do you need help reaching global audiences?
Contact us for expert translation and localization services.

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