The 10 Rules of Video Content Creation for Translation

October 11, 2020
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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?
In our guide Best Practices for Video Localization you will learn actionable tips to reduce the cost of video localization..

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.