Video translation in focus: captioning, subtitling and voiceover

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Subtitling and voiceover are extremely functional translation practices in the audiovisual industry. We often need to use one of these features when watching a movie, series or other audiovisual products. However, they can be used in many other settings.   

With an increasingly global and connected world, it is important to open up pathways to communicate with as many people as possible. Audiovisual materials have become more and more common in education and in the corporate environment. That is why there are many institutions that use this format for their training programs, lectures and courses.

Companies and/or institutions that have a global market reach are aware of how important it is to have quality subtitling, because this is what will allow people of various nationalities and cultures to access their content.

As we have seen in the past few years, social media has been playing a growing role in consumer trends. There are many surveys that reveal a massive preference for audiovisual content. This movement can be proven by the study “Inside Video”, released by Kantar IBOPE Media, which shows that 99% of people with internet access watch videos on several devices and platforms, including Smart TVs, cell phones, tablets, and the different social networks.

Another survey showing this trend is Cisco’s 2020 survey, which reveals that about 82% of internet traffic is generated by video. And on top of that, 80% of users prefer watching audiovisual content to reading. On Facebook, for example, users view an average of 8 billion videos daily. And audiovisual content gets 13% more engagement. 

Aware of this trend, Instagram’s developers have been changing their algorithms to prioritize the delivery of videos over images to users. And clearly, as trends move in this direction, digital marketing strategies go hand in hand and have to adapt.


The differences between subtitling and voiceover when translating videos 


The first process of working with video is transcription, which consists in putting the original audio into text, and synchronizing it with the video footage. It prepares the text to be translated for subtitling and for voiceover recording. You can also introduce captioning to encourage and facilitate the inclusion of a hearing impaired audience.

The process of creating subtitles goes well beyond a mere literal translation. After all, it takes more than that to achieve full comprehension of your content – you need to translate figures of speech and idiomatic expressions that belong to a specific culture or geographical area. 

Subtitles work best for educational and instructional content. One of its benefits besides cost-effectiveness is its SEO relevance. Just like captioning, subtitles can get your video listed on search engines. For instance, movies with subtitles always rank higher and receive better ratings on Google and YouTube, creating more inbound traffic. 

Voiceover is a practice that consists in a voice recording that goes over the original audio, generally starting a few seconds after and ending a few seconds before the original voice. In Brazil, it is often used with material such as documentaries and news reports. Voiceover also makes a lot of sense when you want to create emotional impact for your sales and marketing. 


Some statistics on the use of video for business*


Corporate Education 

  • Almost 75% of companies are using video for internal learning and training, and 98% consider the use of video in their organization to be steady or growing. (Kaltura, 2018)
  • Employees mostly prefer self-directed online training (51%), followed by instructor-led training (47%). (Vyond, 2020).
  • Most common training subjects at work include data security (58%), ethics (58%), and discrimination and protected classes (57%). (Vyond, 2020)
  • Training subjects that employees found most beneficial are ethics (49%), management (45%), and data security (44%). (Vyond, 2020)



  • Over 55% of people search for a product on Google and then learn more by going to YouTube before buying it. (Google, 2018)
  • The top three reasons people watch a video after using search to search for products to buy: 1. To see a product before buying it or to see how other people have used it; 2. To learn more about a product they have in mind; 3. To see credible or authentic comments from others. (Google, 2018)
  • Nearly 50% of Internet users look for videos about a product or service before visiting a store. (Google, 2016)
  • Over 70% of shoppers say that an online video helped them learn more about an automotive product they were looking to buy. (Google, 2019)
  • 50% of electronics shoppers say they have purchased products they discovered on YouTube. (Google, 2018)
  • Video searches for “which [product] should I buy” doubled from 2017 to 2018. (Google, 2018)


Video translation increases the reach of your message


It is not uncommon to hear of people who stopped watching a video because of a language barrier. However, that barrier can be turned around and actually become a determining factor in increasing visits and traffic to your website.

All you need to do is figure out who your audience is. This information can be found by using Google Analytics and other management tools. This control allows you to target content translated into the languages spoken by your most frequent visitors, leading to an exponential increase in traffic.


The importance of technology for translation services


All industries have undergone drastic technological changes and developments in recent years. It is increasingly rare for companies not to rely on cutting-edge technology for their services – and the same applies to translation providers. Some of the tools that have emerged during this evolution have become very popular in the linguistic industry. 

Some software, for example, helps to transcribe videos and audios into different languages. However, we know that the most successful providers use this technology only to support the human work done by skilled professionals. Careful reviews avoid the production of subtitles that lead to misunderstandings of the messages being conveyed, which may compromise the reputation of companies (in the case of product announcements or news releases, for example) by not considering the nuances of communication or by ignoring the specificities of the local audience in each target country. 

When combined with the work of experienced translation professionals, technology allows you to achieve excellent results while optimizing costs. These transformations are fundamental for the progress of the translation and subtitling service, ensuring quality, promoting inclusion and helping thousands of people around the world understand your message.

Zaum invests both in video subtitling technology and training for our vast network of specialized linguists, always looking to support skilled human work with the latest tools in the industry. 


*Source Vyond