Do you really need a video translator? Any potential client who has requested a price quote for video translation might balk when he gets it. To some, it might seem too expensive and possibly, unnecessary. After all, in this day and age ‘almost everybody’ understands English. Also, a lot of videos don’t have many words in them. And even more so, if it is only a YouTube video, you can use Google’s automatic captions.

But are any, or all of these assumptions correct? First of all, sometimes only a few words can have a meaning that certainly requires professional translation. As discussed elsewhere, the job of a professional translator is almost always complex and demanding.

Secondly, some experts note that only 27% of web users speak English. Of course, if you need to translate something from another language into English would require translation, no matter what.

And as far as automated captions are concerned, as Brightlines notes, “the automated captions provided by Google aren’t always accurate, which can lead to some embarrassing mistakes.” So why can the job of a video translator demand a higher price?

In most cases, video translators operate through specialized video translation services. The whole process of video translation requires a number of steps, that include transcription, translation, subtitling and often, voice-overs. All of these require additional skills and the use of specialized technologies and software. In most cases, it is the video translator that covers three of these steps.

Of course, all of the above come on top of all the other skills and knowledge of ‘a regular’ professional translator. But, having in mind the power and reach of a video message, the price video translators ask might turn out to be a bargain.

If you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:

This post has been updated in August 2021.


Reasons to use the services of a video translator

Brightlines give five distinct reasons why any potential client should use the services of a professional video translator:

  • Substantial increase in the audience reach;
  • Benefits to the SEO of any potential client;
  • Any specific brand can stand out;
  • Better audience engagement and retention;
  • More viewers who use sound-sensitive environments.

Based on the data, if any potential client is using English-only videos, he is locking out 60% of the possible audience. On the other hand, with multilingual support, the audience reach can actually be as high as 95%.

SEO or search engine optimization is becoming an essential part of modern daily operations. To that effect, as noted, “translating video content into different languages will do wonders if an organic search is part of your digital marketing strategy, as search engines can crawl caption text.”

Many potential clients of video translation end up giving up on it. But as Common Sense Advisory (CSA) research shows, “72% of consumers spend all or most of their time on websites in their native languages. Also, 72% are more likely to buy a product with native language information.” At the same time, 56% rated the ability to obtain information in your own language more important than price (

Sure, many pictures don’t need as many words, but videos that include translation can “invite comments from foreign language users and promote discussion and sharing in their social circles, therefore broadening your reach.”

Videos that include translation have a close connection to closed-captioning (CC), something many people use when they watch videos in sound-sensitive environments. According to the UK’s Office of Communications, “around 80% of people watch a video with closed captions for various reasons.” This includes watching videos in noise-sensitive places, and it also includes “providing higher levels of viewer engagement and helping those who have English as a second language.”

What does it take to translate a video? – Preparations

Usually, before starting to work on any given video, a video translator or a video translation agency has to pre-determine two factors:

  • What resources are available for translation? This could be a video itself, gaming footage, audio files, scripts, transcripts or others.
  • What are the needs of the customer? Does he require to receive multi-lingual video or audio files, voice-over recording, subtitles or other?video-translator-translation-video-with-computer

On the other hand, the client would need to know the following:

  • What is the target audience? This does not only include the target language, but also a specific region or locale if a client needs this to be done.
  • Did the client pre-plan translate the video into other languages? This would possibly mean having extra footage that could be included so that the translation could fit in properly.
  • Does the video include embedded text that can be translated?
  • Is there a script for the video available?
  • Other relevant information, such as the format of the video, the number of active speakers (voices) in it and others.

All of the above elements are something that the agency or a video translator has to have at hand before they embark to work. It is also something they have to have in mind throughout their translation job.

The actual steps in professional translation of a video

To give a general idea what the process of translating a video looks like, Translate Plus(TP) has divided it into these distinct steps:

  • Video transcription – The first step is to write down, transcribe., the complete dialogue in the video, as well as all relevant on-screen text from the video.
  • Actual translation – Based on the transcriptions, the video translator does the actual translation. At the same time, he considers all the elements such as the targeted audience, cultural and social elements. This part of the job is in the text format.
  • Creation of translation files – These can be in the form of subtitles, voice-over files. Subtitles and/or closed-captions are “hard-coded into subtitle files that media players will display as your footage plays.” Voice-over files are, on the other hand, recordings of the voices of actors speaking in the target language.
  • Video timestamp – Time-stamping a video, syncing the translation with the images, is essentially something that video editors do. Still, this process requires coordination with the video translator, so that the text/voices properly correspond with the images.
  • Video editing – After the timestamp process is complete, the actual translation can be integrated into the video file. As TP notes, “this might result in separate videos for each target language or involve a language selection menu similar” to the ones available in the Blu-rays.

Of course, there are other details in the process that would need the involvement of the original translator. These include localization, “so that units, monetary values, dates and other details are relevant to local audiences.”

Often, video translators would need to use transcreation. This is a concept that describes the process of adapting a message from one language to another while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context.


Using subtitles and voice-overs

Subtitles allow the user to “put captions at the bottom of the screen in any desired language without having to change the audio.” Studies show that 80% more people watched videos to completion when subtitles appeared.

With the development of new software, the process of captioning and subtitling has become less tedious and time-consuming. In many situations, this can now be done by the video translator himself. Still, he needs to master any software he has to use in the process.

On the other hand, voice-over has different requirements and can certainly demand additional financial resources. Voice-actors in a specific language can be an expensive affair. Still, audiences in some target languages prefer voice-over to subtitles, and often, the content of the video needs it.

The tricky part with voice-over in a foreign language is that “the dialog must match the source language to avoid a discordance on lip movement and words still being spoken and heard.” (Brightlines).

It might seem that the services of the video translator are exhausted after he translates the text. With foreign language voice-over that is not the case. The translator often needs to be present during the recordings to make sure that the voices are not only properly synchronized but that all localization elements are in place.

A video translator is present throughout the process

Sometimes in translation mistakes crop up even with professionals. In ‘regular’ document translations, they could be missed or (rarely) overlooked. But in video translation, they could be seen and/or heard. In most instances, they are glaring.

That is why a video translator needs to be involved in the process from the moment a potential client starts configuring what he needs. He needs to know precisely what he needs to do throughout.

While translating, he needs to keep comparing the original video with its transcription to make sure there are no omissions or mistakes. After his main job is done, he needs to participate in timestamping so that the synchronization of subtitles is done properly.

As mentioned above, he often needs to be present during voice-over recordings.

In most cases, he is present during the final edits of the video in the target language. After all, if anything goes amiss he will be the first one to give answers.


Start your own video translation now with Bunny Studio!