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What are your foreignspeak video options


There are 3 different ways to produce a foreign language video, each with their own advantages:

1: Caption-only

2: Foreignspeak voiceover

3: Full localisation

Let’s take a look at these and see what they mean for us.

1: Caption only video

We all know what captions are - little bits of text seen at the bottom of the screen while the video “talks foreign”, or foreignspeak as we say in the trade.

Producing caption video is quick and cheap to do, probably £500 or less per video.

It comes in 3 steps:

1: It requires one person to translate the voiceover into foreignspeak, often a dedicated translation agency.

2: Then it needs another person to condense the translated caption content down to a readable amount, as overlong captions are a chore to read, and can end up filling half the screen. Often someone you know, like your overseas agent or sales representative, can do this for you.

3: And then you’ll need a video editor to dub in the captions, probably the video editor who made your video.

Job done.

However, you also need to consider that while captions are a standard for movies and television, where stories take a half hour or more to tell, they don’t work so well for short business messages.

Also your foreignspeak sales video with captions requires them to read, and probably read quite quickly, while understanding everything that is seen onscreen, and not missing a word of your carefully calculated and very important message. Hmmmm?

Is there are better way to reach out to a critically important foreign audience?

Personal note
This is very much a personal impression, but I watched a foreign subtitled video last night just to check what I was saying here.

It was an awful experience that didn’t do the film justice.

Half the time the captions were on too light or too dark a background to read clearly.

Many times text had been chopped out for brevity (and loss of plot), while other times the text changed too quickly to follow during fast dialogue.

I abandoned after half an hour what could have been a really good movie.

There’s a lesson for businesses in here somewhere.

Consider what you’re putting your audience through.

Is it a productive, engaging sales experience? Or not?

2: Foreignspeak voiceover video

Hiring a voiceover to speak in the native language greatly helps your video in being understood and appreciated.

A professional voiceover will deliver your message well, so everything is clear and understood.

This is a big improvement over caption-only video, as your audience can now look at the images onscreen while listening, which is plainly better than obliging them to read all the time, with barely a second to look at the onscreen visuals you spent so much money on.

Foreignspeak versions cost more obviously, maybe double what you might pay for a caption-only version.

But most firms think it’s worth it. It’s a better solution.

The only remaining problem is that your video will probably have animated English captions embedded in it. Animated infographic text in video is very common. And foreigners won’t necessarily be able to read it as easily as you do.

So while you’ll be understood from the voiceover, you’ll still look & feel like a temporary visitor in their country, a foreigner trying to do their best.

How do we fix this?


3: Fully localized video

Full localization is when every element in your video looks & feels like it was produced in the country it’s intended to be viewed in.

Everything is translated, including all animated infographic captions, as well as voice.

Only unavoidable English signage in one or two of the shots might be the giveaway that your video wasn’t produced locally.

Taking the full localisation approach means the video editor now has to re-animate all the onscreen text.

In Arabic it has to be animated right-to-left as well, as they read this way.

Chinese also has its own rules.

But what you get is a near-perfect, fully localized foreignspeak video.

It may well cost over £1,000 per video to have this done, as it requires a lot more editing.

Nonetheless, full localisation sends out a big signal.

It shows you’re local.

If this matters, then do it.

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