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Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who runs a well-known Boston video production company. Our conversation got me thinking about videos on translated websites and the question many companies have: “What do we do with videos on our translated website?”
The ideal answer to that question is you translate your video into all the languages you have on your website. If you leave them in English only, you’ll miss speaking to your visitors in the right language and they will leave your site. You’ve spent the time and money to create these great videos, so you’ll want to make sure they reach their audience.
Video Translation Options
You have two choices for how you can translate your videos:
Add translated subtitles: Adding subtitles is the less expensive option, especially if you already have a written script and you don’t need to pay to transcribe it. Once you have the English script or transcription, send it to your professional translator to get it translated and then it’s a simple edit to add the subtitles to the video.
Do a voice-over: A voice-over entails getting the script or transcription translated, hiring the foreign language speaking voice talent, recording the audio and then dubbing the video with the new foreign language track.
Both are good options depending on the use of your video. Voice-overs have a few extra steps yet may be worth it depending on your audience.
When to Use Voice-Overs Versus Subtitles
If you’re targeting a millennial crowd it’s better to do a voice-over. Younger audiences’ attention may be be split because they are often multitasking. As they’re playing the videos, they are often also texting, on social media, or doing other tasks simultaneously. With a voice-over they can actively listen to the message and don’t have to read along.
Subtitles work well when you’re targeting an international audience or foreign language speakers in the U.S. Unlike English, speaking U.S. audiences, international audiences are used to reading subtitles because Hollywood distributes movies into other countries with subtitles, so it’s more common and will feel familiar.
If it’s a highly visual video, subtitles might be the better option because the person’s eye is already on the video to understand the information. If your goal is to save costs and still “speak” to your audience – go with subtitling.
Cost of Video Translations
The cost will depend on several variables:
Do you have a written script or do you need to pay for a transcription?
The length of the script/transcription, specifically the number of words to be translated
The target language you want to translate the material into – some languages are more difficult or rare, therefore have a higher cost
Are you doing subtitles or a voice-over?
The cost of the foreign language voice-over talent – do they charge per hour or per word?
Who will add the subtitles or new audio track to the video – the translation agency, a video production agency or will you do it in-house?
Working with a full-service translation agency would be the most cost-effective and efficient solution , as they can manage the project from start to finish and can bundle the costs into a single quote.
A professional agency will make sure the translation is culturally appropriate and that the message is accurate. Additionally, using a foreign language editor who is familiar with the new language to adapt the videos will result in the subtitles and audio being lined-up correctly because they will break the text and audio tracks up appropriately for the new language.