Top 10 Tips to Successfully Translate and Localize Multimedia Learning Content

welocalize January 21, 2014

The convergence of such factors as mobile technology, Web 2.0 breakthroughs in social networking, easy to use content creation tools such as Articulate Storyline, fast wireless and sophisticated learning management solutions has created the consumer expectation that learning content will be informative, engaging, interactive, seamlessly translated and fully localized.

Fundamentally, people learn better in their native tongue and when content is culturally relevant. A good rule of thumb is to create multimedia content and graphics with localization in mind. You’ll save money and get better results if localization is part of the plan right from the start.

Having worked with major global companies in this space for years, I fully understand the challenges and complexities associated with the seamless delivery of localized multimedia and learning content. Here are 10 of the most common pieces of advice I find myself giving to our clients:

  1. Create content that is universal and can be used across all target markets. This avoids the requirement to source and integrate costly market specific content such as images and copy.
  2. If the source is created in English, assume that the text and audio will generally expand when translated. Most languages are longer than English by about 15% (languages such as Russian take up to 40% more space). This should be taken into account when storyboarding, developing and integrating components such as text boxes, graphics and audio.
  3. Before you start localization, ensure that all content is final. Failure to provide clean, final content can be costly.
  4. When recording the source audio, allow extra time for voice over language expansion through the use of pauses or a deliberately slower speaking pace. This will create space in a video to accommodate the longer localized audio.
  5. If music is integrated with spoken audio, ensure that the style of music is appropriate and will adapt seamlessly to support an expanded localized voice over track. The use of music that supports the easy addition of loops is recommended.
  6. Take care in the source when syncing an audio cue to a word. In the localized content, the word order may change, requiring costly re-creation of an animation to match the sync word. Consider syncing to a sentence or paragraph.
  7. Use accurately timed audio scripts to keep voice over language expansion to a minimum. During translation, the timings help create translator awareness of the time limits available for the localized audio. If the translation is longer than the source, the voice artist can compensate with increased pace during the recording process. Failing this, there are post recording solutions available, such as the stretching of static scenes or the use of additional video edits to add cuts and make time.
  8. Choose fonts carefully – in graphics, animations and subtitles. Consider the target languages for localization and the associated character sets. Alternative fonts may need to be considered for some target languages, and it is best to consider this at the content development stage.
  9. If using video subtitling, the source video should be prepared with the lower third of the screen free. This will accommodate the subtitles. The style of the subtitle in terms of font, layout and colour should be agreed at the outset.
  10. Be careful when integrating screenshots of software or product content in a source video. You’ll need to replace with the localized versions. Equally, avoid the use of culturally specific graphics or images, as these may require expensive rework when being localized.

Good luck and let us know if we can help you in localizing your learning content.