Voice-overs and subtitles are the two primary options for foreign language translation of any multimedia project that includes audio. While voice-over translation can be slightly more expensive than subtitles, it is also a less time-consuming process, in many cases. When determining a global marketing strategy that involves multimedia, consider the following when deciding on your approach to audio translation. Subtitling Video Projects Subtitling involves adding foreign language text at the bottom of the screen, to translate what is being said in a video presentation. The process of subtitling may be less costly in certain situations, and subtitles can be effective. For instance, if the video’s subject content is the focus rather than the speaker, as in some instructional or e-learning videos, subtitles can work well. There are many exceptions, however. Blocks of text that are too long for viewers to read means that content and comprehension will be lost. Subtitles may also take up too much space onscreen, blocking key components of the video. In addition, it can be difficult for viewers to follow text on screen if the project material is complicated, particularly if the subtitles are combined with on-screen animation or activity. One of the major objections to subtitles is audience perception. Subtitling may make viewers feel as though they are a secondary audience. In other words, they know they are not who the material was original intended to benefit. Advantages of Voice-Overs With voice-over translation, the project’s original audio is replaced with a new version in a target foreign language. This process involves several components, including script translation, voice recording and creating and syncing the new audio file. For many applications, voice-over translation is well worth the investment. Using a voice-over adds a personal element to the project, which is especially appropriate for marketing or promotional videos in which persuasion is desired. Voices also are easier to follow for many demonstrational or how-to videos. Projects with multiple speakers also can benefit from using spoken translation rather than subtitles, as viewers will have the clarity of different voices to better understand the material. Reaching Your Audience When deciding between voice-over translation or subtitles for your multimedia project, consider your audience’s expectations. Some viewers prefer subtitled content for certain types of videos because the material may be easier for them to learn when they are able to read the text. With most projects, however, voice-over translation is more appropriate because it appears more professional to a global audience. Cultural preferences may play a part in your translation approach as well. Some cultures may respond better to voice-over translation for training and e-learning videos, for example, if that is their predominant learning method. Voice-overs can also be used to great effect along with subtitles. This approach allows viewers the option of either type of translation. Usually, adding subtitles to a voice-over project is not too costly, as the material has already been transcribed and translated. When deciding on a translation approach to your video project, consider the content along with your objectives and your audience’s expectations. Interested in learning more? Contact an experienced professional translation service for more information and advice on voice-overs and subtitles for multimedia projects.
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