Alex Owen-Hill, Author at Rubric

March 2, 2021

Do your international video projects need to be so expensive?

Translating videos for your international markets is a vital step for creating high-quality content. However, you might be concerned that the cost of the video project will be too high.

If you have worked with translations before, you’ve probably experienced the variability in cost that can occur. Perhaps your provider regularly went over budget. Likely, the overall cost of the video creation project rose when translation came into the picture.

The cost of a video project can become surprisingly high when translations are incorporated.

What makes translated video projects so costly?

How can you retain more of your budget when you create translated videos?

The unwise way to reduce video translation costs

When their video translation budget starts to spiral out of control, the first reaction of many people in your position is to look for some obvious ways to cut down translation costs.

After all, isn’t translation the culprit?

The two common ways that people choose to cut costs are:

  1. Find cheaper translators — Companies look for a translation provider with a lower cost per word and just go with them. But, there’s no guarantee that a provider with a lower cost per word will provide a better service or be able to handle projects for companies of your size.
  2. Reduce the video translations — Companies decide to reduce the number of translated videos that they produce, meaning there are fewer targeted videos available in their international markets.

Neither of these options is advisable.

Even without translation, video projects can be expensive. Various factors inflate the cost of video projects, including studio rental, equipment hire, stock footage licensing, editing costs, etc.

Translation doesn’t need to inflate the cost of the project, but you first need to understand a counterintuitive fact…

This factor has surprisingly little effect on video costs

Which factor do you think has little effect on the cost of translated videos?

The surprising answer is… the cost per word for translation.

While you might assume that this factor would be important, in reality, the cost per word is insignificant in most video projects.

If you think about the nature of video content, this makes sense. Compared to content that contains only text, videos have relatively few words in them.

A professional voice-over artist speaks at around 150-160 words per minute. This means that a 3-minute marketing video will include less than 500 words. Even in a 30-minute training video, the number of words is only a few thousand words. At this level, it makes very little difference if the cost per word is a few cents cheaper.

By comparison, a product catalog will likely have tens of thousands of words. At this point, the cost per word might start to have more impact (though, usually, other factors still outweigh its importance).

The major factor that inflates video translation projects

If the cost per word isn’t consuming your video budget, what is?

The main factor that affects video translations is the associated engineering work.

This means all of the work that you and your team have to do to incorporate the translated text into the final video. This can amount to dozens of hours of work per video, in some cases, making the overall cost of the videos huge.

What type of engineering do we mean?

The exact nature of the work will depend on your videos.

Examples include:

  • Copying the text from on-screen graphics so it can be translated.
  • Extracting the source text from subtitle files.
  • Inserting the translated text back into subtitle files.
  • Transcribing spoken audio so it can be translated.
  • Reediting the video so that the translated audio fits to time.

Such associated tasks are often left up to you by the translation provider. In fact, many providers will make you do more engineering work so that you can provide the translated text in a format that suits them.

These extra hours that your team has to work can hugely increase the cost of your video projects. And, if your team doesn’t carry out the tasks, you have to outsource them to another external supplier.

How to reduce the effect of engineering on project cost

If the major factor affecting translated video costs is all the associated engineering, the solution to cheaper video projects is simple…

Reduce the engineering work associated with translation!

How do you reduce engineering work? The specific answer will depend on the type of videos that you are translating.

Some ways of reducing video engineering work include:

  • Providing the subtitles to your translation provider in their native format.
  • Using simplified screenshots that don’t include unnecessary text.
  • Minimizing on-screen text to the bare minimum.
  • Leaving whitespace for translated text expansion.

And there are many more tips that may suit your unique video project.

Although these changes are small, the effect can be significant over multiple videos. For example, one company reduced the cost of their eLearning video localization by $10,000 just by making just one simple change to their process.

Where to learn specific tips to reduce video costs

Would you like to learn specific tips to reduce the engineering work associated with your video localization?

Our free eBook Video Localization Best Practices explains various ways that you can reduce the cost of your international video projects. It includes in-depth case study examples of particular tips that you can put into practice right away with your own video translations.

Download a copy of the eBook by clicking this button:

Download the guide

January 15, 2021

How can you tell upfront if a translation provider will be reliable?

If you’ve used translation providers in the past, you might have had some less-than-great experiences. It’s not uncommon for companies in your position to be very wary when looking for a new translation provider, which is understandable.

Translation at scale can be complex — as complex as any other large business process in an international company. There are many moving parts, multiple contributors, and various interdependent systems on the back end that are required to make the translation project run smoothly.

October 12, 2020

We all know that video content is becoming a vital asset for almost every modern business.

Study after study has shown that video is more engaging than other content, more likely to drive sales, and more likely to be consumed by your customers and employees alike. According to Hubspot, 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

But, how can you produce quality video content for your international markets efficiently?

There are so many moving parts in a video creation pipeline. Translation only makes the process even harder to manage and often a lot more expensive.

What’s more, it can feel like you have very little control over your video translation because you have to rely so much on external translation providers.

We all want to access the business benefits of video, but the difficulties that come with translation might leave you wondering…

Is video really worth it for my global business?

Is efficient translation just incompatible with video?

The challenges of translated video content are hard to ignore.

When you send your videos off to your translation provider, the translations often take ages to come back. When you finally receive them, your team needs to do a lot of extra engineering work to incorporate the translations back into your video content. Then, just when you thought the translated video was ready to go, your in-country reviewers come back with tons of revisions, changes, and complaints about the quality of the translation.

At this point, people often find themselves accepting one of the following three reactions:

  1. They suck it up and accept that creating translated videos can never be an efficient process, accepting the high cost and inefficiency.
  2. They decide not to translate videos in their international markets, reducing the consumer experience in those markets.
  3. They blindly jump between translation providers, hoping for one that will solve their problems.

Neither of these options is ideal.

A better solution is to get smart about how you are creating your source videos to make them more compatible with translation.

The unique reason that video is harder to translate

Text-only content is easy to translate.

Over the last decades, we have solved many of the challenges that previously held us back from translating text content efficiently.

One major reason that text is no longer a challenge to translate is due to the way that we consume text content differently than we did in the past. Back when content was primarily print-based, space and layout played a huge part. Translating the words would usually require you to change the layout of the content too, which added to the cost and complexity.

This is no longer the case.

These days, space is not an issue in most digital content. Your sales copy, training materials, and marketing content have an almost unlimited amount of space available to accommodate the differences between languages. Plus, there are plenty of ways to automatically replace the source content with the translated content.

This is not the case with translated video.

The restrictions imposed by video — in terms of space, duration, visual impact, etc — add a whole extra set of challenges when you’re creating translated content.

Sure, the words themselves are often easier to translate than with text-only content because there are fewer words to translate. But, the added engineering work and the required sophistication of the translation means that you have to follow a different set of rules than if you were just translating, say, a blog post like this one.

The 10 Rules of Video Content Creation for Translation

Here are 10 rules for creating video content that it is more compatible with translation:

1. Have a localization strategy that includes video

Your localization strategy is what will set you and your company apart from others in your market who are operating internationally. Instead of employing “ad-hoc” translations, your localization will be clear and targeted.

Ensure that video is part of your localization strategy from the start.

2. Ask yourself “Do I need translated audio?”

Some people believe that they always need to translate the audio in their videos or they won’t be high quality. However, translated audio (i.e. overdubbing) isn’t always the right solution and can add significantly to the complexity of the video production.

Be clear on the strategic value of translated audio.

3. Optimize the source content first

Too often, we see companies that are wasting a huge amount of their budget unnecessarily because they view translation as an add-on cost at the end of their video creation process. With a few tweaks to their source content, they can often save a lot on the translations and the post-translation engineering.

When you optimize the source content, the translation will be much easier to manage.

4. Keep on-screen text to a minimum

The more text content in the video, the more engineering work you will need to do to integrate the translations into the video. Whilst you will probably need at least some on-screen text, try to keep it to a minimum.

Every step that reduces translation-related engineering can save you money.

5. Leave enough space for longer languages

Many languages occupy more space when communicating a sentiment than is needed in English to communicate the same sentiment. As a result, you should leave more space in the video for written content and longer gaps in the audio content to accommodate these differences.

It’s a good idea to add extra whitespace whenever you will translate a piece of content.

6. Be aware of all cultural differences

Words are only part of the translation process. If you want to properly localize your video content for your international markets, you also need to pay attention to cultural differences that affect other aspects of the video. These might include images, iconography, music, cultural norms, etc.

A good translation provider should be able to help you navigate these other aspects of localization.

7. Be smart about how you use graphics

Graphics are a core part of any video. How you use graphics within your videos can strongly affect the translation process. For example, if you feature software screenshots within the video, using a technique like Simplified User Interfaces can drastically reduce the amount of text that needs to be translated.

Be smart about how you use graphics in your videos.

8. Use localization-friendly tools

There are a plethora of tools that you could use to improve your content workflow. Video creation tools, CRMs, team communication tools,… the list goes on and on. Only some of these will be compatible with translation. The others may require complex workarounds.

Try to pick tools that are easy to integrate with the translation process.

9. Fit translation into your existing workflow

Companies often view translation as an extra, separate step after their own content workflow. This mindset can lead them to miss out on opportunities to improve efficiency further upstream. For example, it may be possible to start the video translation earlier in your workflow, saving you time and effort later on in the process.

Look at translation as a core part of your content creation process, not just an add-on at the end.

10. Have a translation supplier that can do the engineering

With video, most of the work involved in translation is the associated engineering. Examples include extracting the source content to be translated from the videos you have created and later integrating the translations back into the video. To make your life significantly easier, find a translation provider that offers the associated engineering as part of their service.

Unlike many other translation providers, here at Rubric we specialize in streamlining the engineering that surrounds video production. We’re able to take a lot of that work off your plate.

Learn more about video localization best practices

Want to learn more about video localization and see some specific examples of how these rules work in practice?

Download a copy of our Video Localization Best Practices.

August 8, 2020

As a manufacturer operating in the digital world, there are many videos you could create for your business. Training videos, product videos, marketing videos, onboarding videos… the list goes on and on. 

And videos are increasingly required across the industry. According to one survey, 81% of manufacturers already incorporate video into their marketing strategy. Within a few years, it is predicted that the majority of internet traffic will be video. 

The problem comes when you need to serve that video to international markets. 

How do you translate so many videos in a cost-effective way?

How can you ensure they remain on-brand in your other languages?

How will you know that the translated videos actually work?

In our experience, manufacturers often get burned when they try to translate their video content. Their translations arrive late and over budget, using far more of their internal resources than they had initially anticipated. To make matters worse, the videos never seem to work as well as they should in their international markets.

Why is it apparently so difficult to translate video content!?

Why most manufacturers misunderstand video translation 

Many manufacturers misunderstand what is required to produce quality translations that truly meet the needs of their business. This is understandable — after all, we can’t all be experts at everything — but it can have far-ranging effects on your business.   

The misunderstanding is that localization only happens after you create your English content. 

People assume that they first need to create the videos, then send those videos to the translators, and then the job is done. They view translation as an add-on cost to the content creation itself. 

In reality, most of the work that goes into creating a great translated video happens before the video is even created. The way you create your English videos hugely affects the translation process. If you don’t recognize this, you will end up paying exorbitant prices for the translations and your team will have to do a lot of extra video engineering work themselves. 

Most translation companies won’t tell you this. They just translate whatever video content you send them and bill you for it later. 

You end up with more work, less budget, and a nagging feeling that it’s just not worth it to translate your videos.

This is not how video translation should be, but it is unfortunately what often happens. 

A better way to understand video translation

At Rubric, we look at video translation as an entire process. 

And I encourage you to do the same. 

This process starts before you have even made your English videos. 

It starts when you first make a decision about what type of video you will make and how you would like to make it. Each decision you make about the video creation will determine how easy or difficult it will be to translate the content — and thus affect the cost and complexity of the translation. 

Most of the work involved in video translation is engineering (e.g. video editing, adding or changing images and icons, audio recording). The translation of the words themselves does not usually require much work. However, the engineering required to fit the translated content (both words and other content) to the video can become astronomical if the source content isn’t prepared properly. 

When you understand how the process of content creation affects translation, you can make choices that will ensure an efficient, smooth, and pain-free video translation process. 

As an added bonus, your translated video content will work much more effectively in your international markets. 

3 tips to get the most from your translated video

How do you ensure that you are being smart about your video translation process?

There are various ways to improve how you approach video translation, some of which can learn about in our whitepaper Video Localization Best Practices.

Here are 3 fundamental tips that you can use to take control of your video translation process: 

  1. Translate only the right types of videos

If you wanted to (and you had the capacity) you could create hundreds of videos a day for your manufacturing business. 

There are just so many different types of videos that can add value to your company. Training videos can improve your employee engagement. Marketing videos can increase sales in your international markets. Testimonial videos can improve trust in your brand. 

It only makes sense to translate those videos that align with your global content strategy. 

If you haven’t decided on your global content strategy yet, this is a good opportunity to start thinking about it.

  1. Use the correct type of translation

Most people don’t realize that there are different types of translation. Some translation jobs are more complex than others and, as a result, require a more complex, labor-intensive form of translation. 

One type of translation is “transcreation,” where the translator has to be creative and recreate the content from scratch based on the intended meaning of the original author. As a result, it is more costly and time-consuming. 

Transcreation is sometimes required in videos that don’t need it, simply because the source content hasn’t been created properly. 

When you look at video translation as a process, you can make better choices about the type of translation you might require.

  1. Ensure your translation partners can handle the engineering 

As I mentioned above, a lot of the work involved in creating videos for an international market comes during the video engineering steps. 

This can be a problem with many translation providers who either don’t have the capacity to deal with such engineering or would only provide it at a ridiculous cost. For example, some of our clients have told us that their previous providers would only send them the translated text, requiring their team to do all of the engineering work to fit it to the videos.

Make sure that your translation partners can handle the engineering required for video production. 

At Rubric, we can provide whatever engineering our clients need for their projects and we pride ourselves in being able to interface with all their existing technology.


So, think about your current videos.

How could you improve your video translation process?


For more tips, download our whitepaper Video Localization Best Practices.

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