Not As Easy As It Sounds: Language Versioning For Video

Posted on: March 02, 2013

Category: General

In order to get your video’s message across in an impactful manner, the audio must be clear, crisp and understandable. This is often achievable through the creation of a single version of your video. However, many companies choose to have their videos accessible to a broader audience across a variety of linguistic and cultural segments. This often necessitates a video technique known as language versioning, something that can be fairly challenging.


Language versioning is not simply pasting a translation onto an already completed video. The practice requires an in depth understanding of the culture, customs and language of the selected target audience in order to ensure that an authentic connection is made with the audience as naturally as possible.


When incorporating language versioning for video, producers must first hire a language consultant. This can be the translator for the video or a person knowledgeable about the language and culture of your target audience. This ensures that the video maintains its true meaning.


The language consultant should ensure that the grammar is flawless. This includes accents, idioms and other aspects of the language. A common mistake for companies that want to jump into versioning in a third language is to look for a cheap translator, record a voice over and place it over the original video.


If at all possible, language versioning should be a consideration from the moment the English version of the film is being produced, so that if there is a particular image or visual that could be produced specifically for the non-English video, then that image be chosen in order to help with the post-production process.


Language versioning often results in an extension of the script by about 20% in order for the syntax and grammar to remain intact. It is important then for a client to know how this will affect the final product, especially if it is required to maintain a standard length for the video. In order to accommodate this, words or phrases can be dropped or condensed, a voice over might have to be read at a quicker pace, or the video itself might require moving a couple of shots around.


Language versioning is not only a tool to target local ethno-cultural communities but can also be used to connect with the rest of the world. For example, if a coffee shop is set in an area rich with tourists, it might benefit from showcasing the shop in a few of the languages used by those visitors, in order to attract more customers.


Language versioning is a process that requires knowledge of how all the elements of a culture come together to create a strong and powerful message for a particular audience. It is paramount to have respect for that third language even if we understand "rien", "nada", "无", "nichts" "τίποτα" of it.


If you would like to use language versioning for your upcoming or pre-existing film, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.


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