4 steps to creating a multilingual video

Getting voice-over right can be tricky, especially when you are dealing with videos in multiple languages. Capita Translation and Interpreting has laid out 4 steps that will help to make the process a whole lot easier, as it uncovers some elements that should be considered right from the start of the video production process.

1. Allow for expansion

When you create the English language video, make sure you leave enough space/time between sentences so that there’s room to fit longer voice-over in the video timeline.

When one language is translated into another, there is often expansion of text – where the new version is longer than the original. The opposite effect is referred to as text contraction. When text expands though – it is necessary to transcreate it (edit the script so that it’s made shorter) so that it can fit the video’s original timeline. This can be difficult though as it’s tricky in this situation to keep the exact same meaning as the original English version.

If you’re aware of the issues that surround text expansion and contraction before you begin producing a video that’s going to be voiced over in other languages – you’ll be one step ahead of the localisation game.

2. Be aware of the timing and pace of the voice-over

Taking the above point into consideration, text expansion can make a video sound unnatural when dubbed. Make sure that the pace of your original English voice-over is suitable so that translated speech can fit the video as naturally as possible.

Take for example and English video that is to be translated into 10 popular languages. The English video may be around 500 spoken words, but the translated script could be as long as 700 words or as little as 300 words. Written text can contract or expand to as little or as much as -55% to +60% depending on the language.

3. Create a longer version of the video

Languages such as French can expand by as much as 30%, whilst many Asian languages tend to contract when translated from English, by as much as 60%. A script’s length can also vary due to the terminology being used, subject matter, sentence structure, the speed of the spoken language, and the style the text has been written in.

This below example shows how different subject matters can affect text length when translated from English into French;

General text: +25 / +40 %

Literature: +15 / +25 %

Technical (Physics, Mathematics): 0 / +10 %

Economy/Legal: +5 / +15 %

4. Translate first

The very best thing to do (where time and resources allow) is to take your English script and translate it into all target languages before any videos are produced. The translated scripts can then be timed by a translator so that you can effectively calculate the timings of all your multilingual videos. This will help you to plan how long the video timeline needs to be for each language.


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