Professional video translation: what’s involved?

Sometimes the best way to reach an audience is through video. Typically, global businesses need multimedia translation for training videos, e-learning modules, product demonstrations, market research, marketing, and advertising. If your video is already completed, what will professional video translation involve? It depends on the answers to these questions:

Is it scripted?

Instructional media, e-learning and training, product demonstrations, and informational health videos are usually carefully scripted. Script translation resembles any other translation project, except for one caveat: Text expansion.

When translating from English to most European languages, the target text expands up to 30%. It can take more time to say something in one language than in another. If you plan to use subtitles, text expansion can usually be accommodated. But if you need voice-over, solutions include condensing the script or adjusting the audio track to sync with the video.

Is it unscripted?

Unscripted videos include interviews and live presentations. Typically, these are unscripted, or the script may no longer be available. In addition, live speakers may go off script and take questions from the audience.

Translating an unscripted audio track requires a bit more effort. Clients tend to underestimate the costs. They assume the translator will be working like an interpreter by listening to the speech and converting it in their minds directly into the target language. However, translation and interpretation require different skills.

  • It’s far more time-consuming to translate and write grammatically correct text than it is to speak it.
  • An interpreter often focuses on the gist/meaning and intent of the message without striving to interpret verbatim.
  • Live professional interpreters have already reviewed the speaker notes and researched technical terms. This makes interpretation look easy and seamless in action.

Unscripted video translation almost always needs transcription as a first step. We price transcription by the audio minute. We also take into account the complexity of the speech and the number of speakers.

Before translating a recorded speech, panel, or presentation, we create a transcript for the client to review. The speakers may have misspoken, or there might have been questions posed during the presentation. The client should make sure that important points having to do with policy and pricing (for example) are perfectly clear. Review the source carefully, especially if you need translation into multiple languages. Catching mistakes or misunderstandings in the original source document saves time later. Otherwise, you’ll need corrections in several different languages.

Pricing

Scriptis prices professional video translation on a case-by-case basis. Few language service partners will provide a solid quote without having reviewed the video. The cost will vary depending on the density of the speech. If the video features non-stop talking, you’ll pay more than if the video has long periods of silence.  If you receive a standard rate, you can assume that rate will be high enough to cover the most difficult video. Yours might not fall into that category.

Creating translation-friendly media in the first place helps contain your localization costs down the line. When creating a video for global audiences, follow these guidelines:

For scripted audio

Anticipate text expansion by slowing down the pacing of the source video.  For example, if a 15-minute demonstration video for a piece of machinery uses a continuous English voiceover with no pauses, the Spanish translation will take longer for the voice talent to deliver. You’ll have to either

  • Condense the script to reduce the amount of time it takes to read.
  • Slow down the video to allow the voiceover to catch up (but not so slow that it looks odd), or
  • Speed up the voiceover (but not so fast that the audience can’t follow it).

Each of these solutions takes time to engineer. Starting with slower pacing solves the problem up front.

For unscripted audio

Provide notes or other supporting materials for the transcription stage. Clarify acronyms, figures, names, and other details. If you don’t have the text of the speech or presentation, supporting materials will increase the speed and accuracy of the transcription.

Edit raw video before requesting a quote. Raw video often includes the downtime between takes as well as mistakes or repeated material. If only a portion of the video will be used, take out the obviously useless footage to reduce the cost of the transcription.

Conclusion

Speech-to-text technologies are improving all the time. Someday, accurate subtitles and voiceovers might be generated without human intervention. However, if you’ve ever used the automatic subtitling function on YouTube, you know we are not there yet. Using professional video translation services ensures a quality outcome.