How to Significantly Reduce the Cost of Video Translation

March 2, 2021
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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.
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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.
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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.

Best Practices for Video Localization

In this report, we share the lessons we’ve learned for creating high-quality videos that are easy to localize. Whether you work with audio, subtitles, graphics or tooling, learn how to translate video that resonates with a global audience.