Video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 and Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019 (source: smallbiztrends.com). Savvy marketers know that if you truly want to capture the largest potential market share that video will bring, it's imperative to localize your content.
Localizing a video using voice-over is often a very effective means of engaging your target audience, but what about subtitling? When is that the better or preferred option? Understanding when subtitling a video is optimal and knowing what is needed to effectively localize a subtitled video can make all the difference in ensuring that the final outcome is effective and appropriate for your target audience. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions to help you with this process.
When is the use of subtitling optimal? Subtitling is ideal when it is important for viewers to hear the actual voices of the speakers. For example, if there are testimonials in the video that convey a lot of emotion and authenticity, keeping the original voices with subtitles would have more impact. This would also be the case with a well-known personality, such as a company CEO or a celebrity. In addition, using subtitling to show people speaking in their native languages would be a good choice when it is important to emphasize that an organization is international.
What are other considerations when deciding whether or not to use subtitling? When budget is a key consideration, subtitling can be a cost-effective way to ensure that your message reaches your target audience in their native language, especially in the case of multiple languages or a video that would otherwise require a lot of different voice talent. Then, the cost savings over voice-over can become significant. However, keep in mind that in some isolated instances if the literacy level of your target audience is an issue, then subtitling may not be the best option.
What about character limits and space restrictions? For subtitling of videos, character limits and space restrictions are key considerations. The standard character limits are typically 36 characters per line with two lines per frame. Therefore, if the video contains lengthy verbal content to be subtitled, there are instances, particularly with languages that expand when translated, in which the linguist will have to summarize or even cut content to ensure that it fits within the character limits. If you have specific guidelines on what content can be cut or summarized, be sure to provide that information to your language services provider (LSP). In addition, if you have the ability to control the writing of the original script, then keeping the content concise when possible will help with this process.
What about the localization and placement of on-screen graphics? If the graphics in the video contain text, be sure to consult with your LSP regarding whether it makes sense to either localize or subtitle those graphics, depending on their placement in the video, budget considerations, and what would be most effective for that particular target audience. In addition, graphic placement in the original video can also cause issues if the images are very large and there is not room to also include subtitles. If it is possible to take this into consideration during the production of the original video, it is advisable to avoid larger graphics, particularly at the bottom half of the frame. Otherwise, the subtitles would need to be moved to a different location within the frame.
What kind of script should be provided? Whenever possible, try to provide a finalized script with timing codes. Or, check with your LSP if you need assistance creating a timed and formatted script.
What type of native video files are needed for localization? It is best to send native video files for localization whenever possible, as opposed to a format that has been encoded for online use or distribution, such as a Flash video (.flv) or Windows Media video (.wmv) file.
Localizing your video using subtitling can be an excellent way to connect with your target audience and provide much needed information and language access. Contact Syntes Language Group to get "rolling" on your next video project!