What is multimedia localization?

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Businesses worldwide must vie for the attention and loyalty of consumers. Video content is one of the most effective ways to stand out from the crowd and increase company profits. However, simply creating a video is not enough. For your video to succeed, your audience must connect with your message. This is where multimedia localization comes into play.

Localizing your video content helps ensure your message resonates with your target audience in their language and cultural context. This involves many activities, from translating the script to managing voiceovers and screen capture, all of which aim to make your video more accessible and appealing to viewers.

In this article, we explore the benefits of multimedia localization for your company's online presence and provide tips for creating localized video content that engages and connects with your audience.

What is multimedia localization?

Multimedia localization adapts multimedia content to suit a specific audience's language, cultural, and technical requirements. It involves translating and modifying various elements of a multimedia localization project, such as text, audio, video, graphics, and user interfaces, to meet the needs and preferences of a target region or market.

This process demands a range of skills and expertise, including linguistic and cultural proficiency, technical knowledge, and creative flair. A successful multimedia localization project requires a deep understanding of the target audience, attention to detail, and the ability to seamlessly integrate multiple components to create a cohesive and engaging user experience.

In short, multimedia localization is the art and science of transforming a multimedia project into a culturally appropriate and user-friendly experience for a global audience.

Benefits of multimedia localization

Here are some of the benefits of multimedia localization:

Make an emotional impact

Multimedia localization helps your business create an emotional connection with your audience. People are more likely to remember and connect with content that resonates with them.

Consider the success of the Pixar animated movie Coco in Latin America. The filmmakers used cultural references to create an authentic representation of Mexican culture, which resonated strongly with audiences in the region. As a result, the movie became the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

By adapting your content to your audience's cultural and linguistic nuances, you can create a stronger emotional impact and increase the likelihood that they will engage with your brand.

Avoid cultural mishaps

Localization ensures your content is culturally appropriate and avoids potential misunderstandings. For instance, a positive gesture in one culture may be considered offensive in another.

By considering cultural differences, multimedia localization ensures companies can effectively communicate with their target audiences and avoid unintentional cultural mishaps. This helps your business avoid negative publicity and reputational damage from insensitive or inappropriate content.

Localization means considering not just language differences but also cultural norms, idiomatic expressions, and references that may not be familiar to a foreign audience.

Bring potential local investors to your business

Localizing your multimedia content can also help you attract potential local investors to your business. When investors see your brand is taking the time and effort to adapt to the local market, they are more likely to view your business as a credible and trustworthy investment opportunity.

Suppose you are a startup company based in the United States seeking potential investors from Japan. By localizing your multimedia content, you can create videos that are in Japanese, feature Japanese actors, and use Japanese cultural references that will resonate with your target audience. This can help to build trust and establish a connection with potential investors, as they are more likely to invest in a company that understands their culture and values.

Critical areas of multimedia content localization

Localization involves adapting video and audio-visual content, such as commercials, movies, and documentaries, to meet the needs of specific viewers. It can include adjusting language, cultural references, and visual elements to make the content more appealing and engaging.

Script transcription and translation

Transcribing the original script into text can help in the translation process, as it provides a written version of the original content. Translating the script into the target language can help ensure that the content is accurately localized.

Subtitling and on-screen text

Subtitling adds text at the bottom of a video or audio content to translate the spoken language. On-screen text involves adding text on the screen to provide additional information, such as labels, titles, and captions. Both can help the audience understand the content better and improve their overall user experience.

Voiceover and dubbing

Voiceover involves adding a new audio track that replaces the original audio with a translated version. Dubbing replaces the original audio with a new audio track that matches the lip movements of the original video. Both can help ensure your content is fully localized, and the target audience can understand and appreciate it.

How is the multimedia localization process organized?

Here is a brief overview of how multimedia localization works:

1. Analysis and content audit for translation purposes

The first step in multimedia localization is analyzing the content and determining what needs to be translated or adapted for the target audience. This analysis also considers cultural differences, visual and auditory cues, and other factors that may affect the final product.

2. Translation, adaptation or transcreation

Once you have selected the content to be translated, it’s important  the next step is translating the content and to adapt it for the audiences in question. In a lot of caes, the content may need to be localized to suit the target audience's cultural preferences. This could involve changing images or videos, editing text, or modifying the audio to better suit the audience's preferences.

To translate the content, you should work on a translation management system that supports many format files, especially those used in multimedia:

Video file formats: mp4, Mpeg, Avi, Mov, 3gp, 3g2, flv, m2v, m4v, mkv, mpg, ogv, qt, ts, vob, wmv

Audio file formats: mp3, wav, wma, mp2, ogg, aac, flac, m2a

Subtitle file formats: SRT, VTT

3. Recording

If the multimedia content includes audio, voiceover or dubbing may be required. This can be done by professional voice actors or using synthetic voices.

4. Testing

Finally, the localized multimedia content is tested to ensure it meets the target audience's expectations. This may involve user testing, quality assurance checks, or other feedback.

Multimedia localization tips

The following are the most effective localization best practices to grow your business globally.

Automatic transcription with OCR

Optical character recognition (OCR) allows you to extract text from scanned documents like PDFs and from photos. It also facilitates subtitle text extraction in videos.

Using OCR in Smartcat is fast and easy. It enables you to bypass the time-consuming and costly need to transcribe non-editable documents and video files. As a result, you’re able to pull the text from your documentation in next to no time.

You can then choose to translate on Smartcat with automatic AI translation or activate AI+human workflows to combine both Smartcat AI translation with a vetted, fully onboarded professional linguist from Smartcat Marketplace to review and edit your automatic AI translation.

If you want to render your translations in the same format as your source file, be it a document like a PDF or a video with subtitles, you can do so all from your Smartcat workspace by using Smartcat desktop publishing.

Adaptable animations

Animations are essential to multimedia content but can be challenging to localize. To make the localization process more manageable, it's necessary to keep animations adaptable and not specific to the source language. This means animations should not rely on language-specific text or audio, and the content should be easily swapped out for another language.

For example, suppose you are localizing an e-learning course with animated videos. You may want to use generic animations not specific to any language or culture. You can then add language-specific text and audio to the animation, making swapping out the content for another language easy. Additionally, avoid animating each individual letter of a word, as those animations will need to be redone for each foreign language. Instead, focus on animating the entire word or sentence.

Vector, not bitmap

When localizing multimedia content, consider the differences between vector and bitmap graphics. Bitmap graphics comprise individual pixels and can become pixelated when enlarged. Vector graphics, on the other hand, are made up of mathematical equations and can be scaled without losing quality.

When localizing multimedia content, using vector graphics whenever possible is vital, especially for objects like buttons with text labels, which may need to be resized to accommodate longer or shorter translated text. Using vector graphics, you can easily scale these objects to meet the needs of localized text.

For example, suppose you are localizing a video game from English to Spanish. In the English version of the game, the "start game" button has a label that reads "start game." When localizing the game to Spanish, the label may need to be changed to "comenzar juego." You can easily resize the button using vector graphics to accommodate the longer text without losing quality.

Make audio cues flexible

When localizing multimedia content, it's important to consider how language changes will affect audio cues. For example, if you have a voiceover in the original language timed to match specific on-screen actions, it may need to be adjusted when localizing to a different language.

To make audio cues more flexible, use techniques like dynamic audio mixing. This lets you adjust the audio cue timing to match the translated audio's length. You can also use techniques like crossfading and ducking to ensure audio cues blend seamlessly with translated audio.

For example, suppose you are localizing a video tutorial from English to French. The original tutorial includes a voiceover saying, "Click on the button to continue." In the French version of the tutorial, the voiceover may need to be longer to accommodate the translated text. Using dynamic audio mixing, you can adjust the timing of the button's click sound effect to match the length of the translated voiceover, ensuring the tutorial remains synchronized with the on-screen actions.

How does Smartcat help you with multimedia localization?

Multimedia localization is critical in expanding global businesses and reaching new audiences. The process involves adapting content to suit cultural and linguistic differences, making it relevant and relatable to the target audience.

Smartcat offers practical solutions for the translation of content for localization purposes. With Smartcat's language delivery platform, businesses can seamlessly translate and localize their content with the help of a network of 500,000+ language professionals. And Smartcat's collaborative workflows and automatic content synchronization help save time and effort, making it an ideal solution for companies looking to expand their reach in a globalized business marketplace.

Book a demo of Smartcat to translate your multimedia today