A Deep Dive Into Video Localization: Subtitling, Dubbing, Voice Over Services

Like it or not, today most people tend to watch videos rather than read books! Millions of hours of video content are uploaded to the internet every single day, and it has become increasingly challenging to distinguish your video locally, let alone globally.

In this blog, we look into how to create captivating video content for a global audience and  leverage the existing multimedia localization strategies to make your video stand out and feel authentic in different parts of the world.

Let’s begin with clearing up the confusion over some localization industry terms like captioning, subtitling, dubbing, and voice over services. We will, then, showcase the advantages and disadvantages of every given video localization type, before coming up with the ultimate formula to choose the best option for your business.

  • Captioning

Captioning is a generic term that usually refers to the manifestation of everything happening on screen in a textual format, from the transcription of spoken dialogues, most probably in the same language, to the music and natural sounds within the video (e.x: door closing – clapping – thunderstorm… etc,). 

In captioning, there has to be a description for every audible detail, in synchronization with the visual display. Captioning is mainly aimed at people with hearing imparities or who can not play the video with the sound on for some reason.

There are basically two types of captions: closed and open captions. When you have the choice to turn them on and off, just like the auto-captioning features in streaming platforms, they are closed captions. Open captions, on the other hand, are burnt in the video, and can’t be turned off.

  • Subtitling Services

Subtitling is a more specific term that denotes the display of spoken dialogues as a text, mostly in foreign languages, somewhere on the screen. Unlike captioning, subtitling assumes that the viewer can hear the original video sound.

Multilingual subtitle services are now gaining further popularity with the spread of video streaming applications. Subtitles are usually added for those who don’t understand the source language, but still want to listen to the original sound.

The biggest challenge in subtitling is that the text sometimes expands when it’s translated into other languages. In such cases, the display of too much text on the screen might distract the viewers, especially if the video includes many visual elements.

  • Voice Over Services

VO or Voice Over can be defined as the composition of a single recorded narrative with a visual content. Voice over services entail the process of a single voice actor reciting a script in a professional studio. Voice over does not necessarily eliminate the original sound of the video, which can be still heard in the background.

Voice over services are more suitable for programs and documentaries, whereas other multimedia localization options like dubbing and subtitling work better with the entertaining, educational, and marketing content.

  • Dubbing Services

Despite being the most expensive and difficult type of localizing video content, dubbing services bring your video into a whole new level. Dubbing requires talented voice actors whose recorded voices replace the original video sound, with the technical efforts in the lip-synching phase.

In dubbing, the original video sound is completely eliminated and replaced with the translated dialogues. The advantages of dubbing include that it doesn’t force any distorting texts on the video screen, and makes the video and its characters look more authentic as they speak in the viewers’ native language.

How to choose

In order to identify your very unique requirements and choose the optimal solution, you need to take into account the following important factors:

  • Purpose of the video: Is your video conveying an educational message? Is it aimed at promoting a good or a service? Or is it meant to entertain the viewers?! The purpose of your content is always a decisive factor in opting for a specific video localization strategy over the others.
  • Complexity of content: If your video includes specialized technical terminology, dubbing wouldn’t be a good option. Meanwhile, a video that contains many written elements does not seem a good fit for extra textual captions.
  • Displaying platform: Choosing the right multimedia localization strategy also depends on where your video will be displayed. Are you going to share it on social networks, or across streaming platforms? Will it be streamed on TV?!
  • Target audience: Above all else, defining your target audience precisely makes it easy to identify the most proper solution. For instance, if your audience includes hearing impaired people, captioning would be an inevitable go-to option. Moreover, some multimedia localization strategies are more popular in certain countries and regions.

Case in point:

A giant multinational company is creating learning materials for its employees all over the world. What multimedia localization approach would they use?! Subtitling seems to be more suitable here for various reasons.

  1. The content has many specialized technical terms that need to be translated in writing.
  2. Some employees might need to listen to the original video sound, while some others might have hearing difficulties.
  3. Subtitling is a cost-effective option as it saves time and money.

Beware! Choose a professional language partner!

Now that you understand the importance of video localization and know how to choose the right strategy for your company, it is time to find a professional and reliable service provider. Make sure to pick a partner with demonstrated experience and advanced technical capabilities.

Don’t look further. We, at Contentech, pride ourselves on providing ISO 17100-certified tech-based language solutions, including subtitling, dubbing and voice over services. Contact us today and localize your multimedia materials at the highest quality and most competitive prices.

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