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  • Writer's pictureJaney Wong

Audio Visual Localization: Key Trends and Best Practices

At Undertow, we're all about breaking down barriers to global expansion, and that includes making sure your video and audio content speaks everyone's language. 

We caught up with Sasha Ekhilevskiy, Vista's Localization Operations Manager with over a decade and a half of industry know-how, to dive deep into the ever-evolving landscape of audiovisual (AV) localization. 

Audio Visual Localization blog

Here is what we learned.

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Introduction to Audio Visual Localization

Audio Visual localization refers to taking audio or video content and adapting it for other linguistic and cultural markets. This includes the translation and editing of media like movies, TV shows, corporate videos, online courses, and more.

Girl talking about audiovisual localization

The core elements of AV localization consist of:

  • Script translation: Translating the script or transcript into the target language, while ensuring it matches timings and lip movements.

  • Dubbing/voiceover: Recording the translated script with voice actors matching the original style and characters.

  • Subtitles: Displaying translations on screen in sync with the video.

  • Graphic replacement: Editing on-screen text like signs, labels, and menus into the local language.

AV localization presents unique challenges compared to standard translation. Dubbing has to account for lip synchronization without changing the core content. Subtitles need to condense information to fit on the screen and match fast dialogue. Right-to-left languages require flipping entire video layouts. It's a complex undertaking!

Yet, as more content goes global on streaming platforms, AV localization is invaluable for market growth. Audiences strongly prefer content in their own language, rather than subtitled, and that makes it critical for global brands

Coca Cola publicity in Spanish
Coca Cola publicity in French

Best Practices for Localizing Videos

So how can you optimize videos for effective localization? 

Here are some tips on planning ahead in production as well as post-production localization processes.

Planning Ahead for Multi-language Expansion

When creating videos intended for global audiences:

  • Account for right-to-left languages: If expanding to Arabic, Hebrew, or Asian languages, layouts need to accommodate right-to-left text.

  • Use multi-language fonts: Ensure fonts support European and Asian characters and diacritics.

  • Leave room for text expansion: On-screen text often doubles in width in other languages, so avoid filling space.

Building this flexibility from the start minimizes expensive rework down the line.

"We know that all the languages expand compared to English… which can be an issue. For instance, if you have a radio spot and the radio spot is 15 or 30 seconds and you need to convey a lot of information within these 30 seconds, you cannot really go over.” - Alexander Ekhilevskiy,  Localization Operations Manager at Vista.

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Optimizing Video Production

If sending an English video for translation, certain adjustments enable easier localization:

  • Avoid on-screen talent for dubbing: With dubbing, the translated audio must precisely match lip movements. This requires changing the voiceover script, which works best without on-camera presenters.

  • Get source files from producers: The original editing files allow to replace on-screen text in a cost-effective way.

  • Reduce text density: If there is too much text to replace on the screen, this might make editing complex and lead to synchronization issues.

  • Leave the bottom third free: In this way, it will be much easier to read the subtitles.

Voiceover videos (i.e. where the person speaking is not visible on the screen) are usually easier to localize compared to precise lip-sync dubbing and therefore less expensive. That is why corporate training videos often use off-camera narration rather than on-screen presenters for this reason.

Optimizing Video Production

Latest Innovations in AV Localization

When discussing emerging trends, it’s impossible to not talk about the growing role of artificial intelligence in enabling faster, more affordable translation:

  • AI timecoding & translation: Machine learning automatically syncs subtitles and provides initial translation drafts.

  • Immediate fan translations: End-to-end automation allows streaming worldwide minutes after an original episode airs.

  • Balancing automation & quality: While essential for translating the volume of content, human checks ensure accuracy.

As video consumption skyrockets globally, AI breakthroughs make swift multi-language releases possible. Yet quality expectations also rise. Strategic use of automation with human review ensures localization reaches its full potential.

"Well,  as the multimedia content is very prone to adopt all these new trends… they are getting better and better in the sense that, ten years ago, you would use the text-to-speech tool and it would sound really robotic" - Alexander Ekhilevskiy,  Localization Operations Manager at Vista.

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Key Benefits & Considerations

It's important to highlight the key aspects and the distinctive value that localizing audiovisual assets brings to the table.

  • AV localization unlocks global understanding and engagement at an emotional level that text cannot achieve.

  • From corporate training to global film releases, it is a rising priority for reaching worldwide audiences.

  • Unique linguistic factors necessitate specialized processes from translation through editing, subtitling, and dubbing.

  • When executed well, localized videos drive deeper personal connections and engagement than subtitled content alone.

  • Planning for multi-language requirements early in video creation avoids costly rework.

As globalization accelerates, producing media that transcends borders and languages is imperative. Localization powered by strategic human-machine collaboration makes resonating globally easier than ever.

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How Undertow can help with your Audio Visual Localization

At Undertow, we embrace the dynamic world of audiovisual localization, recognizing its crucial role in bridging global communication gaps. We're all about creating experiences that not only cross borders, but truly resonate worldwide.

With us, you're not just translating; you're transforming content to speak directly to international markets. We specialize in turning complex localization challenges into opportunities for connection and understanding. 

Let us guide you through creating and localizing compelling, culturally relevant audio-visual content that elevates your global presence. Get in touch for expert navigation through the intricacies of audiovisual localization.

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