How does multimedia localization work? Answers from the experts


From online training materials to digital marketing, one content trend is impossible to ignore: the importance of multilingual audiovisual content, or multimedia localization, in your business communications – whether internal or external. 

We’ve handled many complex multimedia localization projects whose purpose is to educate colleagues, persuade prospects and generally create a memorable and interactive experiences. The media elements that require adaptation for target regions include subtitles, dubbing, audio tracks and video itself.  

Check out our multimedia localization tips as we answer frequently asked questions covering all you need to know when localizing video or audio content.


What's the best audio localization strategy for your multilingual videos? 

There are different routes to take with localizing audio in video, and the one you choose will depend on your particular requirements. Internal videos generally may not require the highest possible production values that customer-facing audiovisual content may require.  

Carefully considering your audience may allow you to save some time and budget. For instance, if you have a video of a person speaking into the camera, have you thought about how you would like it localized?

 Here are some of the different audio “routes” you can take: 

1. UN style audio localization

One option is “UN style,” which is when the speech volume of the person speaking in your video is turned down, and the voice actor speaking in the target language cuts over it at a higher volume. 

2. Remove original audio and sync with native speaker’s voice 

Alternatively, you could choose to remove the original audio and have the target voice actorlocalized speech synced with the speaker’s lips and mouth movements. As you might imagine, this entails more precision, time and cost. 

3. Re-record using native speakers of your video's target languages

It might be an option to re-record your training module or corporate video using an actor who is native to the target language and country. Depending on the complexity of the video, this may incur additional cost. If you’re not sure which path to take, we can guide you.

4. Multilingual subtitles 

Finallyanother option to consider is the use of subtitles at the bottom of the video. Simple subtitles in place of audio dubbing can be used in cases where only minimal localization is needed. Keep in mind 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched on mute, which is why Facebook videos are an example of a good candidate for subtitles. Investing in re-recording would result in a much lower ROI, as most of your audience wouldn't hear it. 

So, which one(s) make the most sense for your multilingual video campaigns?


Is automated speechlike Siri, the way to go?

For any audio localization projects that may only be used internally, you could consider automated speech, which has come a long way from the days of awkward-sounding automated machine voice. Much like iPhone’s Siri, it’s possible now to mechanically discern rising inflections and pauses in sentences, so phrases are spoken almost naturally.

Keep in mind there’s still an initial setup cost for this, and the mechanical voice option could make sense if you have, say, tens of thousands of script lines. 


Is your video content ready to be localized? 

Before you hand off your videos to your localization partner, here are some tips on how to get started. Preparing upfront will ensure a timely deliverable and an engaging multimedia experience for your audience. 

1. Prepare your multimedia filesets for localization

Localization sails along a lot more smoothly if you compile thcomplete filesets for localization. So, in addition to the rendered video formats (e.g. MP4/AVI)your content services partner would also need the original source file formats that the video was built from

2. Be up-front with your video localization requirements

It’s also helpful if you express what is required up-front. If you have a training video, do you need the closed captions embedded at the bottom of the video screen – or will it be integrated into an online video player with the capability to turn closed captions on or off? Will your elearning module include a person who’s delivering a lecture, or will a series of screenshots be enough? Will your narrator’s voice be dubbed, or will there be subtitles?

Knowing your preferences at the start helps us plan ahead to meet your projects' timelines. If you require the same actor for all your videos for consistency, we’ll need to know this in order to ensure his or her availability.

3. Know your platforms and file formats

Be aware of what platforms and environments the final localized video will be used, how captions are integrated and what the preferred file format is. By enabling localization team to focus on the required specifications, you're also speeding up your video localization process.

4. Finalize and double-check your multilingual video scripts 

Its very important that the script used for the localized audio recording matches the source video. Make sure all your required internal checks are also carried out to ensure there are no differences between the audio and corresponding script prior to recording. 

While not exhaustive, these pointers can hopefully help paint a picture of what you need to know to expand the reach of multimedia content. 

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