In this article, we focus on the key questions and decisions that are unique to video localization. Read on to get started building your own video localization strategy.
You’re already familiar with localization and are confident that translating your video will add value. You will still need to ensure the translation itself meets local norms, but video adds additional localization specifics that should be addressed. Here is where to begin:
To sub or dub?
First video localization question: does your (local) audience prefer subtitles or dubbed audio? The answer likely depends on the regions you intend to reach (see map, below). If budget is no issue, then you could do both, but according to IndieWire, high quality dubbing can be over 10x the cost of subtitling.
Once you’ve determined whether you’re going to subtitle and/or dub, it’s time to move to another set of key questions: where will you be showcasing your content?
Outlets, formats, and compatibility, oh my!
While YouTube continues to be the most popular video outlet worldwide, it is certainly not the only game in town. In Japan you might try Niconico, in China there’s Youku (along with many others), and France is home to DailyMotion. Do your homework and see where people prefer to find local content; ensure you are there too.
Depending on the type of content you’re developing, you may also be looking into terrestrial (cable or broadcast) distribution, in which case you’ll need to ensure you have the right audiovisual, subtitle, and/or dubbed audio formats. An additional consideration is whether subtitles should be “burnt in” (aka open subtitles). Burnt in subtitles are integrated with the video file, are “always on”; they can be tailored with custom look and feel (fonts, sizes, positioning, etc). Open vs closed subtitles may depend on local preference and/or the limitations of the different channels or outlets you are distributing through.
With so many different places —each with specific preferences, outlets, and formats— we won’t attempt to cover them all! But please do read on for more important factors in video localization and for information on where to get assistance when developing your own strategy.
Revising video: a fresh take
A final, critical consideration is whether or not to tailor your video content specifically to your local audience. An analogous food localization example would be McDonalds offering the McAloo Tikki burger in India. For video, this might mean editing or changing parts of your content to better suit a local audience. This may or may not be necessary, depending on your content and your budget.
Certain imagery may have very different connotations, depending on where you are in the world: writing a person’s name in red (China, Korea), eating beef (certain Hindu-majority areas), or any of the many other national and local superstitions observed by millions of us (around the world).
In order to identify and properly address these issues, it is important to have resources that understand local norms, customs, and culture. If your content does include imagery that might send any unintended signals, it is possible to revise or cut the material and align subtitles/dubbing accordingly.
Planning or executing a video localization strategy? We can help!
Are you settling on your video localization? Feeling uncertain about any of the specifics for one or more local markets? Through Amara On Demand, we have helped with thousands of video localization efforts and have many decades of combined expertise, in-house.
If you’re just getting started, or you already have a clear idea about your video localization needs, we can help – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.