Introduction to audiovisual translation

Video marketing is not part of the future anymore. With YouTube being the second largest search engine, it is important that companies have a well-thought video marketing strategy. If your company is dealing with several markets, it is likely that the videos will have to be localised.

Audiovisual translation is the translation of any given audiovisual material, this can include promotional videos, eLearning materials, vlogs, videogames, etc.

Where to start?

There are different techniques to localise videos, so before even deciding one or the other, it is important to know your target audience and channel.

Users will have different expectations depending on the market they belong to. They will consume videos in a different way. This must be culture-specific and will work better if it is tailored for a specific country, rather than thinking about languages. For example, even though Spanish is spoken in both Mexico and Spain, the users will have different expectations when it comes to video localisation, as the Mexican audience is more familiar with subtitling than the Spanish one. Moreover, some cultures may be more attracted to objective data, while others may prefer user reviews. This will heavily influence the type of videos you want to be using in your video marketing campaign.

Your company will have to consider the channel in which the video is going to be available. The translation technique used may vary depending on whether the video will be shown on TV, cinema, social media or a webpage.

Audiovisual translation techniques

After you have determined your target audience and channel, you are in a good position to decide which localisation technique you are going to use.

If you want your audience to feel your product as if it was tailored for their specific culture, the best solution would be to create the videos from scratch. However, having to create new videos for every market can be a very demanding and expensive task.

There are two main types of audiovisual translation: subtitling and revoicing techniques.


These are written translations of what is being said that display on the screen at the same time as the original dialogue.

If your videos are going to be used in social media, subtitles have an added value, which is that they can display even if the video doesn’t have the sound on. Nowadays, especially when checking social media on the phone, users don’t have video sound on, so this way you will be ensuring that the public is getting the full message straight away.

Your video SEO will be improved with the subtitles, Search engines can’t understand the videos, so they use the subtitles to get more keywords that don’t appear in other assets, such as tags, titles or descriptions.

Subtitles are a good cost-effective option, but you may need to do some research on the target market, as there are some countries that are not used to and don’t like ready subtitles on videos.

Revoicing techniques

These techniques replace the original dialogue with a dialogue in the translated language. The most popular techniques are dubbing and voiceover. Revoicing techniques are a good option when your target audience are children, elderly or visually impaired people.

Dubbing is the translated dialogue that fully replaces the original soundtrack. Dubbing also takes care of adapting the lip movement, so that it gives the fake impression that the actor is actually speaking in that language. This is the most expensive technique, but the preferred one in many countries.

This is an example of a dubbed video:

And this would be the subtitled version:

Voiceover is the overlapping of the translated dialogue over the original soundtrack. This means that the original voice can still be heard in the background. This is a good middle ground solution for countries where dubbing is the preferred method, as it is cheaper.

This is an example of voiceover:

In order to choose the right method, there are many variables that you need to ponder out. These could be the target audience, distribution channel and budget, amongst others. If you need any help deciding which is the most appropriate technique for your content, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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