There are four standard methods of localizing video and which method you choose is a matter of budget, taste, the objectives of your video and your audience’s preference.
What is it? The actor’s voices are replaced (dubbed) with foreign actors. Commonly used in video games, animations, film.
Considerations Lip Syncing requires extensive preparatory work to adapt the translated scripts, not only to fit within the original audio’s time constraints, but also to ensure the translated audio mimics the actors lip movements as closely as possible.
Producing lip-synced recordings is a very time consuming process and the final result can be questionable – you never get a perfect lip-sync. Modern cinema goers generally prefer to hear the original audio with subtitles/captions, but lip-syncing could be the best option if the audience aren’t likely to read.
Cost? Lip-syncing is generally the most expensive method, due to the studio time and acting it requires.
What is it? The original narrator (off-screen voice), is replaced with a translated voice over.
Commonly used in documentaries, and corporate video.
Considerations When translating the voice over script it’s very important that the translators reference the video time constraints, so that the translated voice over isn’t longer than the original voice over.
Voice Over is often used in conjunction with subtitles, UN style voice over, and/or localising on-screen text and graphics.
Cost? It can be a cost-effective option, but will primarily depend on the voice talent selected.
UN Style Voice Over
What is it? The original voices can still be heard in the background and the translated voice over acts as an interpreter. Commonly used in documentaries, talking heads, and interviews.
Considerations A UN Style voice over, is a perfect fit for films with a serious subject matter, which is why it’s often used in documentaries and in news broadcast. The translation summarises what is being said, without altering the meaning. As with voice over translation, it’s important that the scripts have been translated referencing the time constraints in the original audio.
Cost? The cost will depend on the number of voices required, but a UN style voice over is generally less expensive than lip-syncing.
Subtitling / Closed Captioning
What is it? A written rendering of the dialog, typically placed in the bottom-centre of the screen.Commonly used in broadcast, films, news and corporate video.
Considerations Subtitling is the most cost-effective way of translating video, and is often a preferred alternative to Lip-Syncing, or UN Style voice over i.e. it’s ideal use is where you have actors/presenters talking direct to the camera (Talking Heads). However subtitles require a commitment from the viewer, and aren’t always the best option if your audience is passive e.g.TV Commercials, promotional corporate video etc.
Cost? Subtitling is generally the most cost-effective way to translate video.
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