In today’s technically advanced world, any organization, business or individual that needs to spread their message or attract customers needs to use visual aids.

This is particularly true of videos. This is something IFP notes in its article titled “The advantages of video translation in a globalized world”. As they note, “market research has shown that as many as 92% of mobile viewers share videos with others.” Statistics further suggest that “a video on social media generates 12 times the number of shares as text and images combined.” They also quote other research data that found that “marketers who use video experience revenue growth at rates 49% faster than those who don’t.

But, at some point, your videos reach the language barrier. To go one step further, you need to translate those videos. Like any other translation process, video translation has its specifics. That includes certain steps a translator or agency needs to complete if such a video is to be useful and effective.

The process of video translation includes the following tasks:

  • Analysis of the video in question to make an adequate plan;
  • Transcription of the audio file, including timestamping (where certain speech or dialogue is located in the video);
  • Translation of the script created from the transcription files, including localization elements based on the target language;
  • Creation of Subtitle files from the translation and/or creating of the audio files in the new language;
  • Synchronization of the translated narration or text with the original video and final production.

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Planning and transcription of a video translation

Planning might seem like a simple step. You have the video, you know the target language or languages, you decide how many translators you need besides a transcriber and off you go to work. Not so simple.

First of all, the video needs a detailed analysis that has to determine the number of factors. The first things that the team has to find out are the content and the length of the video.  Then, the overall tone, the message and technical details of the video (its length and other). Based on that, they have to decide whether they will run the translation in the form of subtitles, voice-over or dubbing. They also have to determine all the localization elements translation has to include or exclude. This depends on the audience of the target language or languages. They also have to count in if the client needs close-captions in the video.

Only then can they forward a copy of the video to a transcriber to start the video translation process. In most cases, the transcriber is a native speaker of the source language. He first watches and listens to the entire video. Then he types down the complete narration, “exactly as it is heard in the video.” He also has to make notes about such things as the number, gender, and tone of the voices in the video. Having the video script in the text form certainly speeds up the process. Still, the transcriber has to go through the video anyway.


He also has to make notes of any text that possibly appears in the video, noting that for the translator. Throughout, he has to timestamp the narration and the text. That is, he has to precisely mark the time where such narration or text appears in the video. Finally, he has to transfer his transcriptions into a word processing file for the translator.

Translation, localization, and subtitles

The whole process of video translation depends on a clear understanding between the client and the translator(s) about what are the needs of the client. This will enable the translator/agency to determine the budget for the whole job, as well as its components.

One of the key factors they have to agree upon is whether the video will run with subtitles, voice-over or dubbing. Also, will it include close captioning (CC)? This will determine in advance how the translator needs to approach his part of the job.

Usually, with any form of narration initial approach is to translate everything verbatim – word for word. It makes no difference whether it is a single speaker or a dialogue. At the same time, he has to watch and compare whether his translation corresponds to the sequences in the video. He also has to pay attention to all the transcribers’ notes. This concerns the tone of the voice, possibly written text and other elements.

The translator then has to localize the content, which may include slight abbreviations in subtitles. As explained, this is done “in order to prevent a subtitle backlog, ensuring that a viewer is able to read the translated subtitles while still following the progression of the original video.”

Finally, he can input his translation directly into a copy of the video. Or he can present it as a timestamped text file. From there on, a professional video engineer will take over.

Voice-over and dubbing

Currently, clients often require that the voices appearing in the video are in the target language. Those can be in the form of a voice-over or voice dubbing. As JR Language points out, voice-over and dubbing “are easily confused, but there are some notable differences.”

As far as voice-over is concerned, it “does not include efforts to lip-sync or closely imitate the original speaker’s cadence or diction.  Voice-over is not meant to be a perfect replica and is more functional than elegant.”

A special type of this process is a UN-style voice-over. This is a type of recording that comes into play when the video contains whole or excerpts from political or business events like conferences, seminars or press appearances. This process “involves overlaying the original audio with a track recorded from a live interpretation in a lower volume.” It is also often used in video ads.


Dubbing in translated videos replaces the sound of the original voices with the voices that speak the original or adapted text in the target language. Dubbing is also done if the original sound of the video needs improvements.

With dubbed translation, the translator and the engineer have to pay attention to a number of factors. These include the time and pace of the original speaking voice. In that manner, the viewers can have the right connection between the sound and the visuals.

Dubbing has most of its use in news broadcasts, announcements, training videos, cartoons, and others. A particular dubbing process comes into play when a translator has to handle a video game. As Dr. Minako O’Hagan from the Dublin University explains, there a translator has not only to translate the text, but also the game experience.

Specialized tools aRend YouTube

To simplify and coordinate as much as possible between all the different individuals that are involved in the video translation process, specialized agencies now have a series of tools that make their job easier and faster.

IWL (In What Language) particularly points out two of those. One is UNIFY, a translation management system “that streamlines the translation process by utilizing the most advanced technology and bringing all project collaborators together into one intuitive platform.”

The other is SubTitly™, a solution designed to streamline and simplify multilingual subtitling. This system allows the user to obtain a transcript and subtitle translation for all video types. From conferences, training videos, tutorials, internal communication, product presentations, videos for social networks, and others.

As is the case with regular translations and Google Translate, Google, who now owns YouTube, offers quick video translations through YouTube VideoManager. This might be a quick and cheap tool if you need to get a general idea of what your video would look/sound like in a target language. It can also serve as a form of a rough draft of what needs to be done and how in a professionally translated and engineered video in another language.

Of course, if your video is brief and has very little text or narration in the source language, you may run with it too.

Professional videos need professional video translation

These days clients spend a lot of time, effort and financial resources on the production of professional videos. This is particularly the case with business-oriented material like ads or artistic material. Videos containing news reports, conferences or similar content might not demand expensive production. But in most cases have serious content, text, or long narrations.

In all those cases, when you need a video translation into another language or languages it is essential to engage professionals to do the job. Understanding the video translation process and what it involves can make it easier to plan all the resources and time you will need to get the job done properly. This will also make it possible for you to explain to the translator/agency exactly what you need and how you want it done. And that certainly saves both time and money.

Remove the guesswork; hire a Bunny Studio Pro today to help with your translation needs!