Closed captioning, like subtitling, display text on a video screen to provide additional and/or interpretive information. These textual supplements to visual content can do wonders for your Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Having closed captions and subtitles available in many languages can vastly expand your viewership and therefore your potential reach and revenues. Current Digital Marketing trends are pushing constantly to greater globalization of translated Video material and Content Marketing. Your strategy should include an efficient and cost-effective textual rendering of multiple languages.
Closed Captions vs. Subtitles: What the Difference and Why it Matters for Media Translation?
What is the difference between closed-captioning and subtitling? Closed captioning assumes that an audience cannot hear the audio and therefore needs or desires a text description of what they would otherwise be hearing. Subtitling assumes an audience can and wants to hear the original audio, but desires the dialogue in text form, either in the original language or via audio translation, to facilitate optimal understanding in one’s mother tongue. Translated text subtitles assist speakers who do not know or have not mastered the spoken language and thus need clarification or translation.
In both cases, Audio or Video translation – or at least transcription services – are required. Both directions are important: going from English to Spanish titles is essential in Latin America and Spain; going from Spanish to English increases the global Marketing reach of content producers in Hispanic-speaking regions.
Read More: Creating a Targeted Campaign Using Video
Current Digital Marketing Trends Are Pushing Constantly to Greater Globalization of Translated Video Material and Content Marketing.
Quality makes all the difference here. If a transcription or translation is substandard, your efforts to provide supplementary textual cues may prove not just insufficient but counterproductive.
Which Languages Are the Most In-Demand for Closed Captioning and Subtitling?
The popularity corresponds to population of course. Video-content closed captions other than English; Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean.
Five Key Steps in Close-Captioning and Subtitling Audio and Video Content
1. Capture the original. Ideally, you would have the script in the original language. If so, transcription drops out of the equation. You have what you need. But often, you have only the audio or video file and need to extract the text.
2. Verbatim or non-verbatim? This is a creative or business choice. Do you render with every single syllable or every word? Or do you pick and choose? This is more art than science. There is value in preserving every um, er, and uh, but it may highlight speaking flaws and impede easy understanding. Closed captions sometimes clean up mistakes but may in so doing lose nuances or speech cadence. Up to you. With subtitles, there is even more freedom. Sometimes subtitles better convey meaning with less text than the original. Again, it’s a choice you need to make.
3. The synch. The text needs to be screened simultaneously with the video or with the audio if you want to have a simultaneous rendering of text together with the original audio.
4. Translating from a transcript. Usually, a translator will want access to the verbatim transcript to better grasp the speakers’ intent. But the degree of literality of the translation is a subjective consideration. Does the translator stick close to the original even if the translated version sounds stilted? Or does the translator instead “go with the flow” and render words and expressions more loosely? The one who pays the piper calls the tune.
5. Synch Again. Translated subtitles and closed captions need to be re-synched with the original to ensure optimal pacing and flow. Some subtitle experts prefer to reveal text sentence by sentence as they are said in the original, while others take a looser approach.
The (Almost) Irresistible Seduction of Transcription Software
It is tempting to take your audio or video file (e.g, wav, mp3, mp4) and feed it to one of the many software applications that will render the words in a textual transcript within seconds by audio to text converter and, if desired, translate them into the target language of your choice. These apps are often cheap or free, unlike relatively costly and time-consuming human transcription services. While quality varies among apps, there are pitfalls in relying on machine transcription and machine translation. Google Translate (and YouTube) are among the tech services offering video to text translation in more than two dozen languages. So why not jump on the free machine transcription and translation bandwagon and hope for the best?
The biggest risk is embarrassment. Machines, even if their translation abilities are better than they used to be, simply don’t know better. They don’t blush. You’ll never know how they mistranslated that homonym till someone laughs at you. At least with professionals, there is some accountability. With machines, there is no pity and no forgiveness.
Still, despite the risks, audio and video transcription software apps do have a place in the Marketing Technology ecosystem as a first-cut timesaver and aid to the translator (saving the need for typing) and also as an auditing tool for the work of human transcribers and translators. (The failure of machines to transcribe properly is why online transcription jobs are trending up.)
Still, the cost of transcription and translation has led to some global companies relying more and more on cartoons, diagrams, and pictograms to tell their stories and convey their brand message. El Al Airlines, for example, converted their pre-flight safety instructions to cute, animal-populated, no-text videos which reduce the need to translate and get the message across without translation in the proverbial “picture worth 1000 words.”
Human Approaches to Video Translation and Transcription Services
Let’s assume you’ve not eliminated words from your video and audio content. Let’s further assume that the risk of failure and embarrassment persuades you to seek salvation in humans rather than machines for your transcription and translation needs. What are your options for getting transcription service done most efficiently by human beings and their companies?
1. Professional Translation Companies and their Audio and Video Transcription Services
Providing you have the budget, working with a professional translation agency is the best way to avoid getting ‘lost in translation’ in video translation and localization. Such video and audio transcription services leverage the global network of native translators such agencies command. They can consistently deliver the quality levels in subtitling and captioning that audiences and business partners expect from your content. That quality quotient in audio and video media is a key metric of brand professionalism and authenticity. Tapping an international audience requires quality translation captions and subtitles to allow for seamless communication in relaying the brand’s message to foreign audiences, the hearing-impaired, and in rendering visual content more useful in an environment where audio cannot be heard.
What to look for in a translation company? Usually, you can expect a free quote from such agencies within hours after providing a description of your project or the media file you need translations along with the list of target languages to be translated.
What is the cost of transcription and translation? Prices vary depending on the complexity and condition of the content as well as its duration. Some companies will break down the cost between transcription and translation. There may be variations also depending on whether you want verbatim or non-verbatim transcription and translation. The industry or profession of the subject matter may also influence the price. You should also demand a guarantee on the accuracy of the transcription or translation. The translation company should be ready to give a commitment to correct their work without charge for a reasonable period after delivery and acceptance.
2. Freelance Translators and Transcribers for Audio and Video Translation
When budgets are tight – and are they ever not? – some businesses consider hiring freelance transcribers and translators for the reduce cost of translation compared to an agency. This is easier than ever due to the availability of online freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. You can review the profiles of freelance transcribers or translators as well as their ratings, reviews and portfolios online, soliciting and receiving bids in each target language.
This can be a viable alternative if you are transcribing or translating to one or two languages. However, working with many freelancers becomes too much of a management headache and time-suck if you have more multilingual and global ambitions. Agencies provide a one-stop-shop for transcription and translation. Your management time comes at a premium, after all, probably a lot more expensive than that of a transcriber or event a crack mother tongue linguist.
The Bottom Line for High Quality, Cost-Effective Translated Content Marketing
If budgets allow, working with a translation agency is the way to go for multilingual Audio and Video content Marketing for the global marketplace. The extra cost will be justified by the generally higher quality and faster time to market. Still, it may be wise to engage a freelancer to be a relatively low-cost auditor of the work of your agency. Otherwise, you really have no confidence about the quality of a translation or transcription before it’s too late. Better to have two or three pairs of eyes reviewing the work in every target language rather than to risk having all eyes on you should there turn out to be an embarrassing mistake!