It’s often cheaper and faster to translate videos than to create a video from scratch for a new market. You can choose from among the following options, depending on the use case, budget, and quality requirements. In some domains such as e-learning, you may use all three options in the same content.
Dubbing: It refers to replacing the audio track of the original footage with an audio track in the translated language. A voice actor says the lines in such a way so as to sync it with the original actors’ lip movements. In a well-dubbed video, the viewer notices no difference between the original and the dubbed one, except for the language, of course.
Dubbing is usually a more expensive option than voice-over or subtitling, because of the level of accuracy for achieving perfect lip-sync. . However, it’s preferred in some markets such as France, Spain, Germany, and Italy where people are used to dubbed Hollywood movies since long. In the entertainment domain involving content such as TV series and movies, dubbing is the preferred option.
Voice over: Voice-overs are required for various applications in a basic narration form, such as in audiobooks and eBooks in the publishing industry to very specialized applications, such as gaming. However, it’s different from dubbing in terms of the style and application. In a voice-over, just translation of the content to convey meaning is enough in case of narrations but may require creative work when ity come sto gaming applications. -.
Voice overs are often used in e-learning and training content translation, as it’s can be non-intrusive in the learning process. Often e-learning videos can have a lot of on-screen information or multiple speakers even. Voice overs, when done well, can make the content look and sound professional and make learning easy.
Voice overs can be critical in shaping brand recognition, especially in advertisements and commercials where the audience starts relating a strong voice actor with the brand. In corporate videos, too, whether internal or not, the quality of the voice acting will be remembered and a connection made with the brand.
While dubbing remains a high-quality choice in the media sector, voice overs are used many a time in animation and broadcasting too. In video games, where voice overs are extensively used, the voice actors are required to be familiar with the characters in the game, dominant themes, and overall tone. This will help actors in delivering authentic sounding voice overs in the local language.
Voice overs are also a much used service in translating videos in the healthcare and financial services sectors.
Subtitling: Before one starts subtitling, one needs to transcribe the files. Next, time stamps and time codes are added to the file. Time stamps help mark events (for example, when speakers change) or intervals (for example, a gap in the audio). Time-coded scripts are frame-specific and are accurate to the millisecond. The file is then translated by expert AV translators, making sure the translations sync with the scene changes in the video.
Subtitling is the most budget-friendly and quick option in translating videos. It has very wide applications: the latest one being live captioning of online events such as Zoom meetings. The two most common methods of subtitling are closed and open captioning.
Closed captioning (also called softsubs or same language subtitling), among other things, is required to comply with accessibility rules in some countries. It helps in making the audio or video file or program accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. On streaming services such as Facebook Live, YouTube, or Vimeo, it’s marked as CC and is a toggle switch that the user can turn on or off. Closed captioning files are separate from the AV track and hence can be edited easily.
Open captioning or hardsub files, on the other hand, are burned into the video. That is, they are always visible in the video: the viewer does not have to switch them on or off.
There exists a huge variety of subtitling file formats and many of them are proprietary: MicroDVD, MPSub, SAMI, XSUB are some well-known file formats.