There are questions you need answered before having your film or video translated.

So you have a video that needs to be translated into one or more languages. Where do you begin? What do you need to know?

At Ball Media Innovations, we've been providing video foreign language translation services for years, and to help you prepare, we'll share some tips that will enable you to get a quick and accurate translation cost estimate.

First, you'll need to choose the method of translation you're looking for.

The primary methods to translate videos to other languages include:

  • Lip-synching: Foreign-language actor's voices are carefully dubbed in place of on-camera actors.
  • Voice-over narration replacement: The original narrator’s voice is replaced with a new voice in the appropriate language.
  • UN-style narration: The existing voices are replaced with voices speaking another language, yet the original audio can still be heard at a lower level in the background.
  • Subtitling: This is an on-screen written translation of the original audio.

should I use video and film subtitles The style you'll choose will depend on a number of factors. For example, knowing the preferences of your audience is very important. People in some geographical locations tend to be very comfortable with subtitles. These viewers normally watch movies and television shows that originate in other countries, and those are often subtitled.

How do you feel about watching subtitles?

Personally, I’m not a fan of subtitles. I find that reading small type on the screen while video is playing is distracting. If your video is very technical in nature, or the purpose of the video is to demonstrate precise techniques, subtitling may not work. This is because as the viewer is reading the subtitles, they’re not able to watch the technique that you're demonstrating.

Now let's talk about lip-synching. We’ve all seen examples of this in B grade movies, and of course on old Saturday Night Live spoofs. Usually, the lip movements and words do not match at all. Of course, the goal of this technique is to make it look like the characters who were originally speaking English (or another language), are now speaking a different language, such as French or Chinese. Before you choose to utilize lip-synching, it’s important to know that there’s no such thing as perfect lip-synch.

UN-style narration is often used in documentaries, or in corporate videos where several interviews take place. In this technique, there’s no attempt at fooling the viewer into thinking that the person on screen is actually speaking another language. This technique allows the viewer to feel the original emotion of the person speaking on screen, and to hear some of the background sounds. We’ve all seen this technique used in news shows such as 60 Minutes, where a foreign dignitary is being interviewed.

If your video has a voiceover, then voiceover narration replacement should be strongly considered. This is especially true when your video has just one narrator. It’s very simple to replace that narrator with a narrator in another language. Often it’s difficult to tell that the video was not created in that language, to begin with.

Sometimes your budget will be the main deciding factor, so we'll talk about translation costs next.

What does video foreign language translation cost? 

Many translation languages subtitles including english, spanish, german, french, russian, chinese, russian and japanese Each of the options discussed above has different costs associated with them. Lip-synching tends to be the most costly option, while subtitling tends to be the least expensive. This is mainly due to:

  • The cost of actors.
  • The use of an audio studio to record the new voices.
  • The fact that advanced editing techniques are required to mix the new voices into the original video.

Video translation costs will vary radically based on the style you choose. But there are other factors that go into the price as well.

There are several questions that a translation company will ask you in order to give you an accurate quotation on your project. By having the answers to as many of these questions as you can before calling, you'll get a quicker and more accurate quote.

Some of the questions have simple answers, but some of them require you to make choices. Of course, if our clients need assistance with deciding on some of the answers, we're always here to help!

Here are the questions you'll be asked by your translation company:

  • How long is the video that needs translation?
  • How many people are speaking in the video?
  • Do you have a written script for your video?
  • What languages do you wish to have the video translated into?
  • What language is the original video produced in?
  • Did you want the video subtitled, or would you prefer to have new voices in the new language? While it's great if you know what you want before you call if you're not sure what would be the best style for your video, your translation company advisor should be able to help you decide.
  • Do you have the original soundtrack as a split track? In other words, can you provide a video with the voices on one track and the music and sound effects on separate tracks?
  • Was the video created with the idea of translating it into other languages? This is a key question because many foreign languages take 10% to 30% longer to say the exact same thing in English. If that’s taken into account at the beginning of the video project, the English can be recorded at a slower speed, allowing for more room, and better timing of the other languages.

The answers to all of the above questions will determine your final costs.

At Ball Media Innovations, we offer expert, accurate video translation services with competitive pricing.

Do you have a film or video translation project? We can help you! Call us.

Please visit our Film and Video Translation Services page to learn more about our services. And call today for a free, no-obligation consultation. 


Greg Ball, President of Ball Media - Studio designer & builderAbout The Author and Company: Greg Ball, President of Ball Media Innovations, has over 25 years of leading his film and video translation teams. He started working with international translation when he worked as the Manager of Worldwide Video Communications for Burger King Corporation. He's known for his attention to detail and excellent service.

Ball Media Innovations is located in Florida, so we're a USA based company. We specialize in video and film translation, dubbing, and subtitles. It's also a full-service video production company. For translation services and video production services call today. We'll be happy to talk with you about your language translation project.



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