Expanding Market Reach: Teach Your Videos How to Speak a Foreign Language
For a number of years now, video has been an increasingly popular format to deliver content on the internet. The advantages over just text are clear: Especially young audiences love this easy-to-digest form of delivery, and so do advertisers. According to a study by Statista, digital advertising revenue in just the U.S. will increase from to almost $17 billion in 2021. In order to make full use of this growth, you should make sure that your video content is not confined to English-speaking markets alone. Translating and localizing your video content requires a few extra steps compared to written content, but the return on investment is worth the effort when done right.
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to use voice-over or subtitles. And while voice-over still offers a broader emotional bandwidth and might help captivate your audience better, it is not only more expensive and takes longer to implement, it might not be well suited for online marketing videos. With the rise of mobile, it has become common for people to watch videos on their phones on mute, so any voice-over would be lost on them. That being said, voice-over works great for educational or instructional videos where the goal is for the audience to concentrate on the content being shown onscreen.
If you decide to translate and localize your content with subtitles, here is what you should look out for:
1. Give Things Some Space
Ideally, you decide early on in the process whether you are going to translate and localize your video content into different languages. Because if you are going to work with subtitles, it is best practice to shoot your pictures a little looser than you usually would. That way you will have enough room on the bottom of the frame for the text that otherwise might interfere with what is going on on the screen. So-called lower thirds, the space on the lower left or the lower right corner of the picture that is often used to show people’s titles and functions, also clashes with subtitles easily. Finally, you want to make sure that you don’t show written content within your video that can’t be manipulated like writing on white boards. While it would still be possible to translate that content, it’s better to not have to find a workaround for that and plan accordingly from the beginning.
2. Give Things Some Time
Keep in mind that many languages run significantly longer than English. So in order to not have the subtitles take over a good part of the screen, which would not only look bad but also be hard to read, it is helpful if your talent in the video doesn’t speak super fast and if there is enough pause in between thoughts to give the subtitles the chance to “catch up” with what has been said. Another challenge might be that the sentence structure in a given language is backwards so that the action in the video does not exactly match the text. The earlier in the process you address those challenges, the easier it is to find solutions for them.
3. Who Does What
Generally, you have two options once your video content is ready to be subtitled. You can supply the transcript of your video to your partner that then adds the time codes for when the content appears in the video and converts the script to subtitle format before it goes on to be translated. Or you have the vendor create the transcript as well, which can be a better option if you don’t already have a script since using dedicated tools for the process allows partners like Venga to create the subtitles and the transcript simultaneously to save time.
4. Pick Your Style
Before simply choosing a style ad hoc, a good practice is to first check internally if your creative team has a preference regarding the style in order to keep the subtitles consistent across the company.
If this is your first subtitling project, ask your translation partner to provide you at least two samples of the subtitles. An experienced vendor should be able to create samples that will portray your content in the best possible way by considering the text color, the outline, the size, and the background of the fonts.
5. Hardcoded or Closed Captions
The final decision you need to make before starting the translation and localization process for your videos is whether the subtitles should be hardcoded or whether you use closed captions. Hardcoded means that the subtitles are burned into the picture using a video encoder to embed the captions directly. Depending on how you deliver your video content, this might be the only option working for you. Sometimes you can use closed captions too though, which have the advantage that they are delivered in a separate file that can be more easily edited in case you have changes late in the process or need to be able to update your subtitles easily. These files contain the content in all the languages requested as well as the timestamp for the captions which will then be pulled in dynamically while the video plays.