Make your Video Global!


Video is a powerful tool to create content for a global audience. You can tell and share stories in every language! But if you’re planning on taking your videos global there is a lot to think about. The main obstacle to consider obviously is language barriers.

Motion Graphics

If you plan to use animated or still graphics you can record a voiceover in multiple languages. If you plan to go down this route, avoid using any text in the video as this will result in extra editing when changing the language.

A voiceover narration is probably one of the easier routes to go down when altering the video for various languages, but the initial video can be more time-consuming and expensive than a live action one. The price will be dependent on the level of animation required.

When writing your script, try to avoid any slang or phrases that do not translate easily. Remember that the timing of the video will vary for different languages. In one language, a sentence may be said in just a few words and in another, there may be two or three times as many words, which will result in a longer shot.

This results in timing issues so parts of the animation may need to be retimed for each language.

If you are using a local production company to edit an original version into another language, try to get the original editable files for the production company so they can re-time and edit more smoothly.

Live Action - Dubbing

If you wish to create a live-action video that involves a talking head you have a few options.

One of these is dubbing. Dubbing involves cutting out the original voice and recording a different voice actor speaking in the new language.

The voice actor will try to match the original speaker's lip and mouth movements as much as possible, but, of course, this is not possible to get completely accurate.

Dubbing is a timely, and costly process and rarely has perfect results. It’s best to avoid, when possible, for external videos. If the video is for internal use only, it is a method to consider.

Live Action - ‘UN Style’

Similar to dubbing this involves hiring a new voice actor to speak in the target language except the original audio is not removed. Instead, the speech volume is just turned down and the new voiceover is over it at a higher volume.

To do this without lowering the volume of the background music also, you would need the original editable video file so that you can just alter the audio channel of the speaker.

This is one of the cheaper but least effective methods for optimising your video globally. It is cheaper because there is less editing involved.

The primary cost will be hiring your voice artist. This method would also be acceptable for internal videos but is not ideal for external videos.

Live Action - Subtitles

Another option is to leave the audio in its original form and add text in the targeted language. The text will represent the speech as it is being said.

This is a common method used for feature films aimed at a global market and is often preferable to dubbing, the other popular option.

The use of subtitles is one of the cheaper options but is not suitable for all videos. One thing to note is that a blind or illiterate audience will not understand the video. When the audience is reading the text they will not be able to give their full attention to the visuals on screen – is this a problem for your video? Another thing to note is that reading subtitles extra effort for the audience – will they bother watching the whole video if they have to read all the subtitles to understand it? This will depend on the target market and content of the video in question.

Live Action - Re-recording footage

If you have the time and budget another option is to completely re-record any sections of the video with speakers.

If the video only shows a talking head occasionally and is mixed in with graphics and/or cutaway footage this option is doable. This will result in an effective video globally because you can worry less about the timing difference between speech in various languages.

If you plan on going down this route remember to include a lot of cutaway shots to avoid too much additional editing for each new speaker.

The key point to remember when producing videos you wish to use globally is to think about the concept.

  • Will it be effective in multiple countries and cultures? 

  • What is my budget for each video?

  • What is my timeline for each video

  • Will these videos be shown internally or externally?

  • Will the message be more effective with live-action footage or through graphics or animation?

Remember that all brand messaging should be kept consistent. Don’t forget to request editable files when possible and avoid using too many voices.

If you have multiple voices in the video, you will need to hire multiple multilingual voice actors for each version of the video.

Contact us today to talk to one of our strategists about your options, goals for the video and your ideas.