Geek2Geek Answers: Video Dubbing

Category: Multimedia

Here is a question that I recently received from a client:

Q: I have been asked to have a video with five actors translated into five languages and dubbed. Our English files were created by a third-party agency. What files and formats do I need to have them send to you so that this can happen?

A: Most importantly, you first need to determine who should be producing the final localized video…integrating voice, any on-screen text and performing post-production of the language versions. This will help you determine whether you are going to send your vendor the video master and any auxiliary files OR just individual files containing various bits and pieces of content such as audio scripts, tables of on-screen text, pronunciation guides, etc.

Second, identify if there are any on-screen elements that need localization. On-screen text such as titles, captions, animations, graphs/charts, etc. might be embedded in the video. The text in these various items might require extraction and translation. In this case you would need to either deliver the original video master so your vendor can extract this content for translation OR provide a simple Excel-like 2-column table of the text to be translated. In some video production applications, the titles can be extracted to XML or other formats so there won’t be a need to cut and paste.

Third, you need to ask yourself what kind of dubbing you are looking for in the context of your video localization project. When actors are visible on screen and their lips are moving, you have two options: UN-style VO dubbing or lip-sync. What you need will depend a lot on what goal you are trying to achieve with the video. Is it simply informative? Is it an interview? Is it an advertisement? If you plan on having the video lipsynched, I would strongly recommend letting your translation partner do the production. If you are looking for UN-style VO, providing the audio script is enough (see next point).

Fourth, no matter what option you choose, the audio script is a key element that must be delivered to your translation partner in any and all cases. The audio script should contain time codes that denote when there is any on-screen actions that need to be synched with the audio and, ideally, the duration of each source English clip within the audio track. All of this will need to be matched up in studio when you choose to dub audio.

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