As a proudly Canadian (and bilingual) company, we’re often commissioned to work on a project that requires both an English and French element (and sometimes close captioning) in multiple different languages. So today, we thought it would be helpful to share some helpful tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way so far!
When you are relying on voiceovers to carry the story, remember that some languages require different lengths of time. When we are looking at an English script with 20 shots, and need a French version as well, we are sure to add at least 20% more length to each of those shots so we have enough footage to cover the French voice over. Here’s a handy percentage guide that compares the length of English text to other languages.
When you are shooting a video with an English speaker that will require another version with closed captions in another language, be sure to include some pauses between sequences. This is in case the language being read requires more text than the English equivalent. Avoid fast cuts as well. You’ll find many languages re-organize the syntax and if the audience is reading one thing, but seeing something totally unrelated on the screen at that moment, it can be confusing. Obviously, this is the last thing you want, especially in educational videos.
The same less-or-more rule goes for text graphics. When you’re framing your shot knowing there will be supers, make sure you go a bit wider or closer for the language variance.
We’ve found that clients aren’t a fan of seeing other languages other than the one being narrated or subtitled. So on production day, watch out for really obvious signs, branding with text on clothing, etc that are not the language of the final video. Or else you can expect the “can you blur that out?” request.
When it comes time for post-production if you have to dub another language. I know, I am cringing as I write this but the client gets what the client wants – your waveforms will be your best friends. Have faith in your professional voice over artist providing the voice. They have the tools, and if you share the original audio files, they can also analyze the waveforms to try to match the length of speaking as much as possible.
Producing video content for distribution in multiple languages can quickly and easily become a big headache (And expensive) for some companies. At Viva Media, we have a proven process and strategic approach to tackle a multi-lingual production head on. Be it an original script with the multiple languages known upfront or the repurposing of video content after the fact, we can show you tips, tricks, and strategies to ensure that each time a language is added to the list, the budgets don’t spiral out of control.
Hopefully, you find these tips helpful! We’ve learned a lot about producing bilingual videos, but there’s always more to learn, so If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!
– Matthew Watts