Video localisation options and tips

March 28, 2018

Any good marketer knows that video captures audiences’ attention faster and for longer.

But did you know that...


  • by 2019, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic

  • Facebook generates 8 billion video views on average per day

  • YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises by 100% every year

  • 55% of people watch videos online every day?


Now think of the above figures in combination with the below facts:


  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language 

  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language

  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

What does it all mean?

It means you need video and you need it in your clients' language.

And how do you achieve that? With the power of translation.


When it comes to video; music, photos, fonts, graphics and time codes, make translation more technical. Video localisation requires special attention so here are some options and tips.

Option no. 1: subtitling

Subtitling is the transfer of audio information from one language into written information in another language. Subtitling works for certain videos and for certain countries. Some countries are more used to subtitling while others prefer dubbing.


Each subtitle line takes a certain amount of characters. Too many characters per line reduce readability significantly and the viewers' experience is ruined. There is plenty of other technical information one needs to master in order to produce subtitles, so always assign the job to a professional audio-visual translator.


According to research conducted using eye tracking and heat maps, when subtitles are produced by fans (fansubbing) instead of professional subtitlers, audiences focus on the subtitles and miss out on-screen action.


Moreover, subtitles may not be the best solution if your video has a lot of written information on screen (for example road signs, written instructions, taglines, product names etc.). Subtitling is not a straightforward process. Your audio needs to be first transcribed and timed, then translated, imported, synchronised etc.



Option no. 2: dubbing/voiceover

As mentioned above, some cultures are more used to dubbing than subtitles. Your audio still has to be transcribed, timed and translated. After this is done, it is sent to a voiceover artist who will record the target language into an audio clip.


The challenge here is that the target language audio needs to be of the same length as the original. Other important audio features such as pauses, emphasis etc. also, need to be the same in order to achieve the same results. Synchronisation, therefore, is extremely important here.


Any video assets such as images, music, fonts and graphics, will need to be purchased again, unless they already belong to you, before they can be used again in your localised videos. One way around this is to ask your video content providers to deliver to you not only the final videos but the video packages, so that you can have access to these assets, given you've paid for them and your contract allows you to reuse them in such way. Images with written information on them, might first need to be translated and typeset and then imported into your videos.

Option no. 3: film in a different language

If subtitling and dubbing are too expensive, why not get a quote for refilming but in a different language? Sometimes, it can be cheaper, and in fact better, to film your campaign video in a different language rather than localising your existing videos. Besides, some advertising concepts simply do not work in other cultures.


So before you throw your marketing budget on video localisation, think about potentially filming something from scratch in a different language. You can use local market experts, translators, copywriters or culture insight talent to help you generate a concept that will work. You can even hire actors, native speakers, of the target language.

Practical things to consider that will help you plan your video localisation activities



My advice is to ask for quotes and solution packages from various different suppliers. You’d be amazed by the variety of prices you’ll receive. But, each company will offer you something different.


Make sure the format of the deliverables will be compatible with your systems. You might want to ensure that video subtitles are correctly timed, or that the voiceover is the right length.


These are separate services usually charged on top of the translation fees and they should be explicitly stated on your quotes.



There are roughly 125-150 words per minute of speech or video. Of course, it’s all relative. As a guide, a 20 minute TV series will have roughly 2,500 words. Professional translators can deliver roughly 2000-3000 words a day. Again, it’s all relative but these figures could work as a base-guide for planning purposes.


Post-production testing 

As briefly mentioned, once you receive your localised content you’ll need to embed it in your video. And then you’ll need to also embed your video into your campaign or website. Testing is really important during this phase.


Check if the subtitles are falling on the right screens, at the right times. Make sure your voiceover is not too long or too short. Make sure it has the right pauses and so on.


Ask a speaker of the foreign language and marketing/culture expert to watch the video and ask them for feedback. Make sure you plan for potential hiccups. You might need to go back to your video localisation provider and ask for edits.

Happy video localisation planning! 

Do you need help? Why not get in touch?


Vasiliki is a Consultant, Chartered Linguist, Translator, Interpreter and founder of Greek to Me Translations, a company that helps businesses communicate their brand, products and messages to their target audience. She can help your organisation achieve a global presence by implementing a translation process that works, using translation technologies and best practices. She believes that translation strategy, when well-embedded within the overall business strategy, delivers not only words but vision. Find out more about how she can help you or get in touch with her at to discuss your translation process and any challenges you have.






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