In addition to websites, software, and documentation, we love working with video localization projects, including voiceover and subtitling. In our Q4 newsletter article on our favorite video localization projects of 2012, we explored the specific challenges of different types of video projects and examples of how we managed them. Working with clients like Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue, these videos are full of chic fashion that is now reaching new target markets from China to Turkey, Brazil to Kazakhstan.
These brands exude glamour, but the principles guiding their multimedia localization are useful for most any industry. Here are three prime examples:
Say it how the locals do. Training program videos for Tiffany and Saks employees used local voice talent for dubbing over the original English presentations. Words like “Saksmanship” and designer names like Marc Jacobs were said in a Russian accent, like the employees at the new Saks store in Almaty, Kazakhstan, would say them. For Tiffany’s multimedia presentation the World of Tiffany, we recorded three different Chinese audio tracks: one in Hong Kong Cantonese, one in Mandarin for mainland China, and one in Mandarin for Taiwan. We also used a neutral-sounding Lebanese dialect for Modern Standard Arabic for stores in the Middle East.
Timing matters. Syncing video to audio is more than just translating the script and recording voice talent in the target language. Time-synced videos like Saks’ were a challenge because Russian expands up to 40 percent over the English text, but the audio still had to match on-screen actions. The linguist adapting the script read translated lines aloud with a stopwatch, timing the results to make sure the Russian text fit into the time allotted and sounded natural, not too rushed. When recording, the voice talent preserved these time markers and created a smooth finished product.
Adapt to local cultural norms when necessary. Ralph Lauren is an iconic brand of American sportswear, but customers in Turkey or Italy might not understand all of the American English cultural nuances. For the RL Gang videos subtitled in 13 languages, American flavor was preserved by showing scenes of children named Hudson and Phoenix playing baseball while sports-specific vocabulary, like hitting a home run, was translated into something less specific yet still meaningful (hitting the ball out of the stadium). The same principle applied to Tiffany’s diamond engagement rings. While famous in American contexts, in most other countries the engagement ring becomes the wedding band, necessitating the reconfiguration of some content and substitution for the word “engagement ring” for certain countries.