Multimedia Language Needs: Advantages of Using a Localization-Specific Studio as Your Partner
By: Maya Tsirulnik (VP of Sales) - Metro Audio and Video
23 May 2016
In this digital age it only takes a few clicks of a mouse for a company to begin growing its reach across the globe. Whether your LSP’s client is a start-up company looking to expand, or if you are part of a localization team at a large corporation opening branches in other countries, chances are you have considered using audio and video as business tools. This just makes sense. Multimedia is the perfect medium for staff training, presentations, company advertisements, and more.
When it comes to using audio and video as a business tool in other countries, your client, or your corporation, will most likely request for the video to be dubbed or subtitled in a number of languages. At this point, you may start searching for a multimedia production company to work with in order to fulfill your team, or your clients' needs.
Before you become engrossed with the details of the production process, you should keep in mind that if you are looking for a studio/multimedia production company to work with for foreign language voiceovers and subtitles, there are several reasons to consider partnering with one that specifically focuses on localization. Let’s explore some of the headache-saving and quality-enhancing reasons below:
1. Not every multimedia production company specializes in foreign languages.
One of the very first things to realize is that the majority of multimedia production companies in the U.S. specialize in English-only voiceovers. These are perfectly fine to use if you only need English voiceovers or subtitles for your client. Yet, if their business is expending globally and you will be in need of foreign language subtitles or voiceovers for them, English-only production companies do not have the knowledge and experience to support you in reaching your goals. In order to produce a foreign language video, a multimedia production company needs to have a team of professionals specializing in language localization. This team includes language directors, sound engineers trained in working with multiple languages and a pool of qualified voiceover talents. These professionals have skillsets that help them analyze the localization process as well as language nuances.
2. Multimedia production companies specializing in localization have trained engineers and project managers who understand multiple languages.
Most jobs in the localization industry are produced in multiple languages at once. When your company collaborates with a foreign language specialized studio, it has a guarantee that the project is supervised by engineers and project managers who understand the localization workflow. Each member of this team either speaks or has a good understanding of multiple languages.
Most sound engineers in the U.S. have never deal with foreign language work at all! In fact, it’s a challenge for even the best sound engineers to understand foreign language dubbing or subtitling without years of training. This is why it is important that foreign language specialized sound engineers know the localization process and have a minimum of 3 to 5 years of training. During this lengthy period of learning, they develop a deep understanding of the structures of the world’s most widely spoken languages. At the same time, they also learn the nuances of each language, becoming familiar with the syllables used in foreign words. This is essential, as their jobs require them to match up voiceovers to onscreen lip movements.
As they become proficient in their skillsets, foreign language specialized sound engineers learn techniques to help them deal with language expansion. A great example of this is when a script for an interview is in English and the translation is in Russian. The Russian translation is longer and has more words than the English version. While the person on screen is being interviewed, the foreign language specialized sound engineer can add in the extra words when the camera cuts to another related scene, strategically placing the voiceover in that scene.
In some cases, when the studio is allowed to edit the video based on the client’s approval, a foreign language specialized sound engineer can make strategic cuts to the video, slow it down, make edits and add more time to insert a longer translation. These skills simply cannot be found within a studio that doesn’t specialize in localization.
3. Directors and engineers at foreign language multimedia production companies understand bilingual scripts.
One of the most complicated parts of foreign language dubbing involves the bilingual script. Foreign language specialized sound engineers at localization studios are trained to understand and utilize them. When dubbing a video, the sound engineer will play the English version while the voice talent is speaking a foreign language. During this process, the sound engineer hears the English version, watches the video and ensures that the voice talent’s words are timed properly with the English version and synced correctly. This takes many years of training, and is not something that any sound engineer can do.
As mentioned earlier, these studios work with language directors. These directors can be present at the recording session with the voice talent. In cases when the translated script is much longer than the English version, language directors can assist the voice talents with shortening of translation upon client’s approval, or suggest various ways of reading sentences for speed. They can also advise on dialect or specific ways of pronouncing words depending on where your client will be presenting the video or product.
In addition, foreign language multimedia production companies have linguists to provide quality assurance, so there are no errors in the videos or recordings. They also have an extensive pool of voiceover talents to choose from. These voice talents have already been screened and approved by the studio, so you can feel confident that you will work with professionals on your client’s job.
4. When it comes to subtitling, foreign language multimedia production companies have experience with foreign language fonts and character sets.
If it’s subtitling you need for your video, understand that like dubbing, subtitling is also a technical process. Working with fonts in foreign languages is quite a challenge. However, localization studios have engineers specifically trained to subtitle foreign languages. These engineers have experience with a vast number of fonts in over 50 languages, and can recommend suitable fonts for viewing audiences. After all, a font style that may be acceptable to people in one country may not be acceptable to people in another.
It’s also important to point out that the technical process of creating subtitles begins by a speaker of the language creating the subtitle files. Most foreign language production companies value the importance of having a human – not a computer – create these. Humans, unlike computers, understand the foreign language and this assists them in syncing up the English to the video. Production companies that don’t specialize in localization do not have these resources. This means that they must rely on computers alone, or they will outsource the job to a foreign language specialized production company!
As you can clearly see, when it comes to foreign language voiceovers and subtitling, there are many reasons to consider working with a studio that has the professional resources needed to make your client’s project a success. When done the correct way, the video will result in a high-quality product that will reach your team's or your client’s target audience.
This article was published by Metro Audio and Video