Here at Amara and PCF, we want to make accessibility easier. Because if someone is out there wanting to make the world a more inclusive place, we want to be right beside them saying “Let’s get to work!” Translation is often described as a lonely job and that can make it difficult to explore options for supportive tools. So we decided to put together a list of online video translation tools to help out!
Benefits of translating online video
We talk a lot about the benefits of translating video online. It’s not surprising– it’s our passion! Translating video for online audiences can increase the reach and engagement of those videos. Translation crosses language barriers so that the messages in those videos reach new audiences that they wouldn’t have before! Gain local support by going a bit further and learning a little bit about localizing content for specific language communities.
Translation is a great way to spread a message beyond borders. Whether it is a marketing video meant to draw attention of new people or a message for loyal audiences, translating videos shows that you see and care about the world outside of your organization’s primary language.
If anyone is curious, here are some helpful definitions before we move on. We’ve been talking about translating subtitles in videos, but what is a subtitle? And why doesn’t that match the little “CC” I see at the bottom of my video player?
First, “subtitle” is an umbrella term that refers to timed text on a video whether it is in the original language or a translated language. “Captions” are specifically subtitles in the original language, usually used to make content accessible for anyone with hearing disabilities or auditory processing issues.
Second, there is a more specific kind of translation that is important to know before deciding on a subtitling workflow. “Localization” is translating with a specific local population in mind. So if someone were translating from a language into English, they would need to know where their English-speaking audience lived. Even figuring out how to spell the word “localization” or “localisation” makes it necessary to know if the audience uses US-English or UK-English. Additionally, it’s important to know if the audience will be familiar with the names, slang, and product mentioned in the video. If not, changing the subtitles to more familiar terms, words, and names can help people not be confused or distracted while enjoying content online.
Tools to help you translate
Before we dive into the list of tools, let’s talk about what features to look out for when shopping for subtitling solutions. It might feel intimidating to start, but thinking through the entire subtitling workflow can be a good start.
For example, version control is an important feature in creating any text. Version control is a feature found in many common programs that people use every day. Most word processing programs (Word, Writer, Google Documents) have version control. This feature allows the user to save versions of the document as they go or automatically. For subtitles, this can mean saving a lot of time by not losing work. If the program crashes in the middle of an edit, it is such a relief to have a backup! See if a tool allows saving, editing, and downloading different versions of your subtitles so no one has to worry about lost data.
Something that subtitling editors have that regular text editors don’t have is a synchronization step. Since the text needs to line up with the speech in the video, timing is important. It’s so frustrating for audiences to have to wait for a subtitle or see it speed by before the words are even out of the speaker’s mouth! How can an online translation tool help make subtitling easier? The answer is with a waveform. A waveform is a visual representation of the audio levels of a file. It can be really helpful to immediately see where the sound begins and ends. This visual representation of the audio can give subtitlers a headstart on synchronization, saving time and allowing them to focus on quality.
Tools that translate for you
It’s exciting to get to know new technology, especially if it’s saving us time! But it is also important to know the drawbacks. If you are looking to auto translate video, there are a few things to consider. For any automatic speech recognition, including auto-generated captions, reviewing is essential. Getting a human to review before publishing the final product can be the thing between accessibility and disaster. Make sure to put the audience perspective at the top of your workflow essentials list!
Let’s review some automatic translation tools!
Kapwing is free for limited use with short videos and includes a watermark on all videos that free users download. Paid plans are available for larger videos, volume sizes, or more complicated workflow. It supports over 60 languages and allows users to simply copy and paste a URL from the video hosting site (Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and others)
Flixier is a tool that has both free and paid plans. There are over 30 languages available on this platform. The thing that sets Flixier apart are their text and video editing options. Users can export subtitle files with custom styling options for online video. Make sure you know which subtitle file format you want to use, because some formats and video platforms don’t support custom styles on subtitle files.
Veed is a paid tool with no free option. It supports an impressive amount of languages: over 100! The paid plans are priced per seat, so the bottom line depends on the size of your team. Veed allows you to upload and edit video on their platform. After the subtitles are complete, there are two options for what to do with them. Completed subtitles can either be downloaded to use or burned-into the video. Burned-in subtitles are usually referred to as “open subtitles” which cannot be turned off by the viewer.
Happyscribe supports creating subtitles in over 60 languages and users can choose either human-created or computer-generated captions and translations. There doesn’t seem to be a free option for creating subtitles on this platform. But for paying users, Happyscribe allows them to upload videos, choose translation languages, and export the final video and subtitle files when ready for online usage.
Nova supports creating subtitles in over 60 languages. This tool does include a free option and options for machine translation. Nova lets users edit their video which is convenient if you notice something needs to be cut when you are subtitling. There are three different tiers for paid teams based on the video volume needs of their workflow. Then you can export the video translation subtitles and use them online or offline.
Order professional subtitles
Another option for translating video online is a classic: hire humans! If you don’t feel comfortable with machine translation yet and don’t want to do it yourself, hire some professional video subtitle translators! Professional translators are already used to following best practices, knowing subtitling guidelines specific to their language, and how to use video translation software to get your subtitles to you fast.
Gengo has a professional team of translators who deliver subtitles on demand. There is no free workspace for people to make subtitles themselves but they do offer over 50 languages for translation. Their price is based on the wordcount of the translation rather than the video length, which can give some types of creators a great deal!
Try an all-in-one solution: Amara!
The Amara editor and subtitling platform offers a diverse range of subtitling solutions. Whether there are a few videos or an entire library, there are tools ready to use at any scale! Our award-winning editor has an original language reference panel handy for translators, waveform for our paid teams, and a free option for people who are just starting out in the subtitling world! We have our own in-house team of professional translators doing work in 50+ languages. And our paid team plans allow ordering from our machine-generated captioning service which can give translators a headstart with a written reference. It’s an all-in-one subtitling solution with a great team of people behind it!
So get out there and try some tools! We hope that this article made it a little easier to take the next step in your online subtitling journey, whether it’s the first step or just the next one!