A Guide to Video Localization

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A Guide to Video Localization

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Video marketing is the number one way to get the word out about you and the product or service you company offers. As you continue to grow, you will want to market to the masses. And when you do, there are ways to maximize how people find you online. If you are from Atlanta, the things you do for customers to find you in Atlanta are very different from the things you will need to do for customers in New York to find you. If you want customers in Los Angeles to find you, you do very different things from a marketing perspective. Make sense? As this story proceeds, we will dive into this idea of video localization further.

The Concept of Video Localization

Video Localization at it’s core is the idea of creating content that appeals to people from that particular city, country, demographic you are trying to appeal to. As an example, if you are trying to sell content to women in India, your hero may not need to be a 65 year old lumberjack from the Midwest. If you have a flower shop, you may want to think about the end customer before you start creating your marketing copy. Think about who you are selling to first. Next you should start to think about their culture and how you will need to communicate with them.

Video localization is about more then language alone. Localization could very well call for changes in the final edit for each market to avoid potential offensive visuals, actions or ambitious narrative that does not translate. Doing extensive research is necessary if your video assets are meant to travel between cultures. You may need to film completely different scenes resulting in completely different messages/stories for the same product or service.

Who Needs Video Content Localization?

Whether animation or live action, every company looking to enter the international market should look into video localization. It is 100% necessary to increase conversion. As mentioned above, when speaking to a specific audience, it is important to talk the talk so to speak.

Your original video is the Most Important Element in Localization

It all starts with the original video. A video and message that appeals to your primary demographic. If your primary audience is mid 50’s women in the United States, your first video will need to reflect a message and tone that appeal to them. Typically, this video asset will contain all the elements for videos, you will use to market to different groups. They should contain graphics, music, voice over artists, and other auditory elements. This will serve as the foundation for all future videos built to enter different markets. Each new video will not vary drastically, only a few elements will change. Perhaps copy, a different color scheme or language for your voice over artist.

When Do You need to Replace the Elements of the Video Sequence?

The answer to this will need to come from the research you and your team do for the different markets your video will penetrate.

Let’s say you are a restaurant and you are looking to release a video in a Muslim speaking country. If you have a scene with a family together in the park barbecue in pork, it may not go over well. Perhaps you were trying to paint a picture of creating a family friendly restaurant and your food tasting like freshly grilled food, but if your research did not turn over the fact that most Muslim’s do not eat pork, you did not successfully localize your video.

If you are attempting to localize a video about your product or service, make sure your product is itself localized. Bathing suits and videos depicting women on vacation wearing bathing suits will sell better in California and Florida vs trying to run ads in Nebraska. Sure you can run these ads in Nebraska, but you are going to find more success in cities and states around bodies of water and warm weather.

Possible Problems You May Encounter When Localizing Video

The Video localization process requires a technically savy marketing approach. It is a process that implies a change in the marketing message and a technical re-edit and re-implementation of the video.

When Several Translators Work Simultaneously

The more videos being released into global markets, the more translators you will have working simultaneously. One of your primary tasks will be to make sure that each of your translators understands the essence of your idea, product, and/or service. Certain words, expressions and ideas to not translate from culture to culture. Make sure your production company or research team does sufficient research to ensure the correct message is being broadcast to your potential consumer base.

Blind Translation

When translators work on copy or when voice over artists work on scripts, it is important to look at the original video production and have a firm understanding of the local culture. If a joke is told in the original script that only Americans will understand, a blind translation into Chinese or Hindi will fall flat when viewed in foreign markets. Make sure the team handling your international distribution understands both the original culture and the culture the asset is meant to penetrate. This firm grasp of both cultures will help your project hit it’s intended target. If a joke or line needs to be completely rewritten, then it needs must be.

Lip-Sync Difficulties

When talent speak in any video, visually it’s perfect when viewed in its intended market. When that same video travels to a different market, Chaos can happen. This is a slight exaggeration, but if you think about the old martial arts films, that is an example. In the Chinese martial arts films, the hero character will finish speaking (the English translation) and the Chinese character’s mouth will still be moving.

Lip-sync/audio dubbing is a tricky specialty. Words are not one to one. An American word may be 4 letters, one syllable, may take .2 seconds to say, vs its Chinese equivalent being 8 letters, three syllables and take a full second. Multiply that by the amount of words in a sentence and whatever variables it takes to say the same thing in a different language and you have a large problem to solve in a fixed amount of time. Within this specialty there are several levels of ability. I highly suggest you find a team that comes highly recommended.

Simplified Video Localization Options

There are also easier ways to localize video. Of course, the result will not be as perfect as with full localization, but if you are forced to conquer new markets in a strictly defined financial framework, then these options are also possible.


When re-recording audio in foreign languages, it will be necessary to mix the audio. The text must be professionally translated and recorded by a native speaker of your target audience. Music elements may be changed for signature opening and closing title scenes.


An economical option to make your video available to foreign audiences is dubbing. With this approach, the original sound effects remain the same. The only thing you will need to do is record a new audio track and apply the audio track to the original. The audio tracks to the original video is removed and now you have a video specific for your target audience. The other auditory elements remain the same.


Subtitles are the most simple video localization elements. You take the film as it was originally delivered and add text at the bottom of the screen in the native language of the people and country you are showing the film in.

The downside of this approach is that viewers must read the text, rather than watch the video. Even if the words on the bottom of the screen are not translated word for word, the key is to make sure viewers understand the gist of the scene as originally intended buy the writer. Scenes can move fast so it is important the subtitles in any language move accordingly.


If you are aiming to capture the attention of a foreign audience, you need to use video localization. Fortunately for you, plenty of services exist for you to complete this task. Make sure you identify the markets you want to reach and work with companies that come highly recommended.

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