Secrets to Successfully Creating Source Video Content with Localization in Mind

by Hugh Barford

In the second of a series Best Practices in Localizing Audio and Video, Hugh looks at the secrets to successfully creating source video content with localization in mind.

188143193Ah, the joys of localizing video. Nothing gives us more pleasure than delivering to a client a really tightly-localized video that looks and feels as good as the original –  and yet, there is no process more strewn with potential pitfalls. In this blog, I want to highlight those pitfalls and offer the solutions that will result in a top-quality deliverable, every time.

To begin with, are we talking about creating source video content with a view to localizing it, or are we talking about ‘legacy’ video projects, video that was created previously (often years previously) and now needs to be localized?

Of the two, the former is obviously the ideal scenario. If you plan a video with localization in mind, the production process will be that much smoother and the final deliverable much more effective.

What does this mean in practice for creating source video content with localization in mind? When a client approaches us for production of an English video to be localized into multiple languages, we storyboard the video and for localization, consider the following key issues:

  • Ensure the English voice-over on the video isn’t too fast, or edited too tightly. This can cause issues when it comes to integrating the target language audio into the video. Consider adding extra frames to the video at strategic points, to facilitate stretching of the video if it is needed.
  • Restrict the number of ‘talking heads’, those characters talking to camera. Multiple talking heads equals multiple target-language voice talents equals escalating costs. If the video requires multiple voices, consider casting target-language talents to ‘double-up’ on characters.

Voice-over or subtitle?

Voice-over is a much more engaging way to localize a video than subtitle, and not necessarily that much more expensive. Consider using ‘UN-style’ voice-over. For example, source English audio playing quietly behind the target-language audio requires only a rough synchronization. Lip-syncing is for broadcast-quality only! Believe me,  I lip-sync for film and TV and it’s incredibly time-consuming.

If subtitling is required, consider designing the video so that there is space for subtitles. Subtitles don’t work very well with videos that are choc-full of graphics. The subtitles can mask on-screen graphics and there can be too much for the human eye to take in.

On-screen text (OST)

If OST is to be used, use sparingly. Avoid animated OST as this looks good and zippy on the original; however, it can be very time-consuming to localize. Create OST in a way that is easy to localize. For example, if the OST is created in Motion or After Effects, then passing on these files to a vendor means copying and pasting the translations into the Motion or After Effects files is a simple process.

Finally, be sure to retain all source files used in the creation of the video. They can be used in the localization process.

In my next blog, I’ll be looking at scenario two: Localizing Legacy Video Content.


Hugh_headshotHugh Barford is Managing and Creative Director of HBV Studios – a production and consultancy house specializing in multi-language audio and video content for the localization, e-learning and digital marketing industries. HBV is one of Welocalize’s vendors for multimedia services. Hugh began his career in the industry as Senior Audio Director with Irish localization company Transware, before opening HBV Studios in 2008. Hugh is a professional voice talent himself, whose most recent projects included voicing Standard Chartered Bank’s global TV commercial campaign, and TV and documentary work for HBO and BBC.