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The business goal is to make your marketing video look and feel as if it was produced in the country whose foreign-speaking audience you want to impress.

This is called full localisation

– where the voiceover, interviews and captions are all in foreignspeak

– and where the video looks like it was made locally and not in another country.

This is what your foreign audiences prefer.

As one German Chancellor succinctly put it: “When you’re selling to me you speak in my language, but when I’m selling to you I speak your language”.

Full localisation will cost you more, but it’s far superior to merely sub-captioning an English voiceover with foreign text.

I mean – how can someone possibly read all the captions and keep up with the action onscreen?!

Or – who watches a sub captioned movie by choice?!

No one likes subcaptioned video.

So the first thing to decide is whether to go for full localisation or part localisation

– ie, sub captions in foreignspeak only

– or all foreignspeak – voiceover, onscreen animated captions, interview translations, the whole works.

Make the decision early, as it will affect the way your marketing video is produced.

Get a pro translation

Many marketers try to save money or time by having the voiceover translation done in-house.

Others get a local translation agency to translate the voiceover to foreignspeak.

Either way, this is where you have to look out.

Here are 2 actual examples of what can go wrong in translation:

> In Chinese “the firestation” became the “house on fire”

> In Japanese, “stop the spilled oil reaching the river” became “pour the spilled oil in the river”.

The way to go about translation is to:

1 – use a professional agency

2 – then get your best in-house foreign speaker to check their translated script for technical accuracy and choice of idiom.

It takes 2 layers of translator & checking to be 100% accurate.

So how do you know your translation is 100% accurate?

You don’t.

It’s only when your foreign audience are watching the video – when it’s too late – that you’ll know if your translation is perfect or not.

Double checking the translation is your insurance policy

– as one word out of place can make you look a fool.



Will the voiceover translation fit the English text

The voiceover artist, when recording your foreign text, has to speak at the right tempo to fit the previously edited original English video.

However different languages speak at different speeds.

For example:

> while an English speaker may speak at 100 words per minute

> a French speaker will speak the same equivalent text at 125 words per minute, ie, the French naturally speak faster

> a German will probably only say 90 words in a minute, as German takes longer to say. Russian takes even longer.

Your foreignspeak voiceover will have to try and match the tempo of their foreignspeak recorded script to the action onscreen, and make it fit.

A Director who speaks the language natively should be present at the voiceover recording.

This way if the voiceover is struggling to make one of the lines fit the video

– the Director can suggest a shorter way of speaking the script to fit.

If you have a native-speaking Director present at your foreign voice recording session, you minimise the risk.

Don’t assume the foreign voiceover artist is all you need.

A Director is needed too, especially if the language uses a non-European alphabet you don’t understand.

When text goes right to left

While English captions read left to right

– many languages read right to left, like Arabic, Persian or Urdu (but not Hindi).

So what difference does this make?

Your animated onscreen English captions will have been designed to flow from left to right.

They’ll need redesigning to be animated as foreign text right to left

– without the resulting video looking lopsided.

Stick to a proven documented production method

Consider this:

> the video editor can’t speak the language of your video

> you can’t speak the language either, never mind know which accent to go for

> the translator may not understand your technical terms or idiom properly

> the voiceover artist might even be part time student hired for the day to fill the gap (believe me, this happens).

Potentially a lot can go wrong, as there is no one person in the whole production sequence who knows everything.

This is where a proven documented foreign video translation and localisation production method becomes vital.

Your video production company should have this in place.

Ask to see it first, and be satisfied that it looks detailed and nitpicky enough.

Ask to see proof of previous full localisation in the language of your choice.

You can learn more about international video production here


Foreign video translation should seem easy enough. Often it’s treated like an afterthought in the video production process.

But you’ll never know if something has gone wrong – until a customer tells you.

Here are the tips:

> Decide early on full or part localisation

> Pay for a professional translation, then check it again

> Get the tempo of your language right

> Take account of text reading right to left

> Keep to a proven documented foreign language video production method

Good luck in producing your next marketing video in a foreign language.

Read more: 3 Quick Ways to Grow Your Marketing Video StrategyHow Using Marketing Video Saves Time For Marketers And Their Clients

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