We share our strategic framework for managing your multimedia content and transforming it into high-value global assets.
Video has grown exponentially over the last decade and it is expected to represent 80% of online traffic by 2021. The key components of this trend are the growing live streaming services and the switch away from traditional broadcast networks to TV delivered over IP, which broadens the possibilities for an even much more connected and globalized multimedia landscape.
YouTube, the major online video-sharing platform, has over 2 billion users (almost one-third of the internet) who watch over one billion hours of video daily. The content is localized in over 100 countries and can be accessed in 80 different languages. Considering the fast-growing demand for global-ready video content and the indisputable preference of consumers for content in their mother tongue, the need for a multimedia localization strategy becomes crucial.
Whether you are localizing video for reaching internal or external stakeholders, a careful blend of technical and creative expertise is crucial to give meaning and enjoyment to the global user seamlessly. Accuracy of translation is not enough: subtleties of language, tone and audiovisual rhythm are critical to transmitting authentic meaning to any audience, be it consumer or corporate. In this article, we will be covering the basics of creating a multimedia localization strategy and giving you an overview of topics to discuss with your language service provider.
What is multimedia localization and why do you need a strategy?
Multimedia localization is the process of adapting audiovisual materials to meet a target audience’s need regarding language preferences and cultural context. Due to the medium complexity, in which image, spoken word, sound effects, written text, graphic and other visuals elements interact at the same time, an audiovisual translation is a highly specialized task. If it’s not well done, it could change the meaning, or lose it entirely.
In his book “7 habits of highly effective people,” Stephen Covey defines the second habit as “begin with the end in mind.” The author states that all things are created twice: the first one, when planning, and the second one when doing. The key to effectiveness lies in finding a balance between planning and execution. So, when we take this to a multimedia localization strategy, it means starting with a vision and a clear destination and planning a path to ensure the steps and actions everyone is taking are coordinated and headed in the right direction.
How to plan a multimedia localization strategy
A successful multimedia localization strategy must include all the aspects involved in the decision-making process: the target, the characteristics and purpose of the content, the budget, the timing, the deliverables, and the reference material.
1 Target audience
The first decision that has to be made revolves around the target audience. As in any content creation process, it is advisable to start by knowing the end-user. But, unlike any other content creation process, in multimedia localization, audience segmentation is not only aimed at getting the audience liking the content: it is a matter of the audience understanding it.
A tangible aspect of audience segmentation is linked to the decision of whether to go for subtitling, voice-over or dubbing. The education level of the audience and the environment and devices in which they consume the content are determinants of subtitling strategy success. On the other hand, dubbing or voice-over can be beneficial for communities with low reading speed, low reading comprehension, or cognitive difficulties, but these services tend to raise costs because of the additional fees associated with voice recording (technicians, artists, studio hours, to name a few).
Despite the cost factor, each technique has growth potential according to rising variations in content consumption patterns. The demand for subtitles (and even more, for closed captions) will continue to grow hand in hand with the creation of mobile-friendly content and the trend of consuming it without audio, and the increasingly widespread regulations on accessibility for hearing impairments. Furthermore, dubbing and voice-over are expected to continue growing as younger audiences tend to favor listening over reading because it is a more passive activity and allows them to multitask.
To prevent scope creep and its negative impact on timing, budget, and overall outcome, you can do a video content audit. Make a complete inventory of your video content, consider the value that each piece adds to your content landscape, and keep only the pieces that support your current goals. Having a complete view of your video assets will allow you to refine your strategy and identify potential gaps for future content creation as well. With that in mind, determine your criteria for classifying what’s useful and what’s outdated and needs to go.
Once you have a clear overview of your content to be localized, it is now time to allocate the budget. Take into consideration that different types of content demand various production resources. For example, content to be localized for media entertainment is primarily dialog, which is particularly complex and highly context-specific, since dialog usually contains a lot of colloquialisms, cultural references, and humor.
Given the particular nature of speech and dialog, there is a specific set of language-related considerations to be taken into account for media localization, such as length restrictions for subtitles, and synchronizing lip-sync dubbing with the original audio as closely as possible.
Planning expenditure for a whole project in advance allows you to have clearer expectations regarding the overall quality of the outcome. Otherwise, the project is exposed to last-minute adjustments that negatively impact the production workflow, generating extra costs or forcing to resign quality.
Put the timing in your strategy. Once you define your goals, scope, and budget, there comes the moment to outline a precise schedule. Keep in mind that different techniques and methods call for different response times. For example, live captions have the quickest turnaround, and dubbing with professionals has the longest, and there are many options in between. If it is feasible for your teams, it is recommended to launch all languages into production simultaneously. This will allow more efficient project management and reduce the risk of inconsistencies and missteps among languages.
Like any other content, video deliverables involve different technical specifications regarding the destined platform and device for its consumption. Technical details like the file type and display aspect ratio are vital for high-quality results. Take into consideration that the final outcome must keep its quality and readability in at least three standards screen size: computer, smartphone, and tablet.
6 The right language partner
As mentioned above, the key to a successful strategy is a proper balance between planning and execution. And the key to that balance when localizing video content is a qualified and experienced language partner. The language services is a mature industry with plenty of multimedia localization solutions for every scope and budget. Nevertheless, when choosing your video localization provider, some key criteria should be present:
- Professional voice talent and technical proficiency
- Understanding of different formats, play-out environments and testing capabilities
- Prior work samples and multiple voice castings
- Project management expertise
- Agile methodologies
- A Quality Assurance (QA) process
- A solid feedback implementation process
Also, keep visual references and other production materials handy for your provider. As your language service provider is in charge of replicating the original message to a new audience, any production material that helps to understand your creative proposal can be helpful. So, check for additional resources availability, like scripts, transcripts, storyboards, and graphic source files.
With the necessity to engage with a global market, as opposed to a strictly local strategy or geographic roll-out with segments addressed serially, finding solutions to reach global audiences through good video localization is imperative. Video is an exponentially growing medium, and in the realm of business, it is also a quite affordable resource to produce high-quality content.
The key to a successful outcome is a strategic approach that considers the target audience, the project scope, the time frame, the budget, the technical specifications, and a qualified and experienced language service partner to transform the plan in top-level results in a seamless way.