BUSINESS VIDEO MASTERCLASS
PART 5 - GETTING FOREIGN LANGUAGE VERSIONS RIGHT
What can go wrong, and how do you fix it
A foreign language video with a mistake in it will haunt you forever. Except you probably won't know it's there. Catch 22.
You need to know how to stop this happening.
Here are 3 common sources of error that I’ve seen time and again:
1: Missing translation mistakes
When I first saw the word “fire station” translated into Chinese as “the house on fire” my heart stopped for a moment. Then I laughed.
On another occasion, in a video with an environmental message, I saw “stop the oil reaching the river” translated as “pour the oil in the river”.
This was another aarrgghh moment.
Fortunately both errors above were spotted before they ever reached the public.
And I learned an important lesson in assuming translations were always perfect. They’re not.
To avoid translation mistakes you need your video translation work carried out by a video studio that has a clear robust documented translation method that allows for all the possibilities for error.
Before you buy, you need this proving to you, as you’re betting on your studio’s capability.
I’m not going to go into all the details of how this is done here. It’s a small book in its own right.
But there has to be a visibly clear robust method, otherwise your video may end up full of embarrassing errors that
> you never find out about,
> your customers see every day.
For example, the translation may have been done by a student freelancing for a translation agency and not have the experience to know the subtleties of your marketplace, or the technical terms used in your business.
They end up sounding accurate, yet weirdly naive.
And unless the foreignspeak video production method is robust and time-proven, you’ll never know whether your video is speaking naive rubbish until someone’s kind enough to tell you.
Foreignspeak video experience counts here. Big time.
2: Not allowing extra time for foreignspeak
Different languages run at different tempos.
Let’s take German or Arabic as examples.
Both languages take longer to say than English.
A video, say, that speaks at 120 words per minute in English will only be able to say 115 words per minute in German or Arabic. Maybe even less in Russian.
Foreignspeak often takes longer to say.
Except for the French of course, who speak very rapidly, more quickly than average UK English or or even US English, which is generally fast.
So what does this mean?
It suggests that when producing your original English video, don’t go at top speed on the voice tempo.
Pace it a little slower (not slow) to allow a little extra time for foreignspeak to be dubbed in later.
Otherwise you might have to chop words from your script to make it fit, or pay a bit extra for your video editor to refit all the video to the new audio.
You don’t want to have to re-edit your video to make room for longer foreignspeak.
This is time-consuming and costly.
You want the foreignspeak to fit neatly under the original existing video images, in perfect sync with what is seen.
Plan ahead for foreignspeak and don't rush your original English tempo.
3: Not getting a local to check your foreignspeak
It sounds obvious but before your translated script is approved, you need a local person to check it, preferably someone who knows your industry.
Funnily enough it can often lead to arguments over the choice of idioms, as everyone has a slightly different ideas of the way things should be said.
For example, your agency translation might be rather stiff and formal, while your foreignspeak checker - perhaps your overseas agent - thinks it should sound more relaxed, less stuffy, more cool.
Neglect an independent foreignspeak check at your peril.
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It’s relaxing for me. I enjoy it. So please share your ambition or concern, and I’ll do my best to help.