Finding the right partner to produce videos for global primetime

Companies continue to make more room in their localization budgets to deliver increasing volumes of video. The number of social media users worldwide is predicted to be more than three billion in 2021. Digital marketers focus on creating more video content to support messaging via mobile — especially among younger consumers. Using new technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, marketers can generate the voices to accompany the images.

But what if you don’t have much experience in video localization? How do you go about vetting possible partners for this content format, especially if much of what your company produces is not ready for global primetime?

Do your homework first, then contact your LSP

When a product demo or a marketing video suddenly appears out of nowhere needing to be localized, resist the temptation to immediately request a quote from your language service provider (LSP). Invest a bit of time to think about how this content fits into your organization’s overall global content strategy. This exercise prepares you to manage the many moving parts that make up video localization projects. Focus on the following seven areas:

1. Will this video be useful internationally? How do target audiences differ from those in your domestic market? Is the video a priority for in-country offices or partners? Will local employees feel left out if there are no subtitles? Local prospects, customers, investors and employees will find you on video if you exist via social media anyway. Therefore, it’s only worth the effort and expense to localize multimedia content if your organization is ready to capitalize on the local language interactions and requests that it will generate.

2. What is your process for capturing and integrating local market perspectives? Will in-country offices or partners participate in the original design for the video, or will you retrofit? Do you expect LSPs to provide input on adaptation requirements for any of the markets? Who needs to sign off at what points in the process? Your answers to these questions will influence how you organize the video’s localization and how successful the international versions will be.

3. What are your budget constraints? Multimedia components are relatively expensive to localize. In addition, technical solutions vary widely in terms of cost. Vendor candidates can help identify and price possible options based on your targeted audiences.

4. What educational resources are available to bring you up to speed? Learn basic terminology so that you can speak intelligently with vendor candidates. Multimedia localization experts often provide educational material on their websites. If you’re not familiar with this space, review information from companies that appear when you search for terms such as “multimedia localization services” or “video localization services” (or their non-English equivalents). Some focus on digital marketing content, others on games localization or eLearning. Zero in on the ones that highlight the type of video content in which you’re interested.

5. What questions should you ask to vet possible vendors? First, find out if your current LSP is equipped to handle your video needs — many LSPs provide multimedia services, but fewer specialize in it. If you’re sourcing digital marketing content or planning to produce more than one or two videos over the next year, engage a vendor that specializes in multimedia production with its own recording studio. Why? Because the marketing and video production agencies engaged by corporate marketing groups generally outsource the video localization piece of the project anyway. Managing a specialist LSP directly usually saves time and money as long as you ensure consistency in terms of messaging, style and terminology.

6. How much effort will it take to prepare the video for localization? Assess how much thought — if any — went into designing the video for international viewers. Is the text separate from or integrated with the graphic components? Do actors speak directly into the camera? Are localized screenshots available? Does the video introduce cultural taboos that may cause problems in other markets? Your video localization partner will ask you several questions in order to gauge the level of retrofitting required.

7. Who are the players? You will probably work with more people than you’re accustomed to, especially for projects that require voiceover or dubbing: original content designers and creators, voice talent, translators and reviewers who specialize in translating for video (they take timing and synchronization into account during script and caption translation), linguistic coaches for recording sessions, recording engineers, project managers and video producers from the original production house, and in-country reviewers for the script. Some of these people may work for or be contracted by LSPs, while others may be employed by video design and production firms, or marketing agencies. Voice talent will often record in different studios, depending on their location.

Video localization can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. However, it’s an extremely effective way to provide bite-sized, easily digestible content about your organization’s mission, products and services for international markets. The current transition to mobile and the ongoing growth of emerging middle classes worldwide continue to drive an increasing volume of video content. The implication for localization managers? You need to make more room in your budget for video localization and work closely with LSPs that offer that service to spend your money wisely.