The right tone in all languages: multimedia localisation from oneword

Today, education and knowledge, information and entertainment are conveyed in many different media formats and languages. They are multimedia and multilingual, because it is important to reach a wide range of people in their language and to reach them in line with their skills and preferences. Professional multimedia localisation ensures this in the best possible way using all channels.

Multimedia and multilingual as standard

Organisations and companies now rely on multimedia content and platforms as standard to train and educate, inform and entertain different language audiences. High-quality translations are a decisive factor here. According to a key survey related to languages – the Nimdzi 100 Report 2021, including the “Language Technology Atlas” –, localisation of e-learning (62.7 per cent) and media and entertainment (54.7 per cent) were among the most sought-after services provided by European language service providers in 2020. The demand for multimedia localisation has increased even more since then.

What is multimedia localisation?

Multimedia localisation refers to the process of adapting audiovisual content to different target languages and cultures. As a rule, this process includes transcription of spoken and written text (if no written template is available), translation and revision of the texts, voice recording or subtitling and the final video production with adaptation of all symbols and screen texts to the target language.

Was unterscheidet sie von der Multimedia-Übersetzung?

Similar to software localisation, these adaptations include not only linguistic content, but also currencies, symbols, date conventions, names or units of measurement. Furthermore, localising multimedia content involves not only written text but also spoken text, music and sound effects, moving images, animations and graphics in the process.

What services does multimedia localisation include?

Multimedia localisation covers all translation services for audiovisual content, for example, graphics or text in graphics, audio texts, animated films, advertising clips, presentations or applications (apps), including video subtitling and voice-overs. In addition, it includes dubbing and lip-syncing, which is done by specialised providers. The following are the essential features and subtleties worth noting.

Video subtitling

International markets are now crucial to the success of educational and entertainment videos. Therefore, any type of video requires subtitles in several languages, which makes subtitling one of the most important multimedia translation services.

Subtitling in particular makes it clear that localisation is more than mere translation. It involves a complex, precise process to ensure that the audience is able to understand all spoken and written audiovisual content:

  • Looking through the material in detail, down to individual graphics/images to be localised in the video
  • Transcription of the audio from the video
  • Creating subtitles for the source language (timing etc.)
  • Translating the subtitle file
  • Length check/shortening
  • Incorporating the translated subtitle files into the video
  • Quality assurance with computer-assisted check

For this purpose, customer- and project-specific questions have to be answered: What kind of subtitles are required? (Fixed “hardsubs” or flexible “softsubs” that can be shown/hidden?) Are subtitle files already available or do they have to be created first? Is an audio transcript available? And so on.

It should also be noted that subtitles are subject to text length and time restrictions. The challenge is therefore even greater than with display texts. This is because it must be ensured that viewers are able to grasp the content well in the time.

For example, one possible use case is accessible podcasts which already have subtitles in the source language, meaning that it is clear how long the content and time of the translated subtitles need to be.


Translation and localisation for voice recordings and voice-overs is used in both video and audio productions to replace content that is not spoken by a visible person in specific sequences.
For localisation with sound, the audio transcript can be translated or, if necessary, a language-specific transcript can be recorded and superimposed on the video. In the best case scenario, it is possible to switch completely between the audio tracks.

For videos, it is used, for example, in interview sequences, where the translated voice recording is superimposed on the original voice recording while the person speaking is seen.

Another possible use case is e-learning, where there are different training videos, explanatory videos and tutorials in which a voice off-camera usually describes the scenes and explains the content, and users have the choice between two or more languages.

Voice-over is also used in audio-only productions. Again, it is familiar from interview situations, where the translated recording is superimposed on the original voice recording while the person speaking can be heard. The application is similar for purely acoustic podcasts that are intended to reach listeners in more than one language.

The acoustic range of applications, however, is much more extensive. For example, multilingual recorded announcements have long been used for telephone systems or on public transport.
Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) or chatbots, which are used in technical communication, for example, are also an increasingly important topic but not yet to a sufficient extent, as the documentation is still provided via a manual or PDF all too often and the scope and language overwhelms those seeking help. However, if the desired information is automated and localised, it is available at the right time, in the right medium and in the right language.


Spoken audio dubbing is used to adapt video productions to convey the experience of the original production. As it does not require reading, this method is suitable for children or people with a lower level of education, for example. However, this type of translation is even more demanding and time-consuming because, as with feature films, attention must also be paid to lip syncing. There are specialised providers and agencies for this.

What does multimedia localisation at oneword achieve?

As a full-service language service provider, we can support you in translating and localising learning materials, training courses, subtitles, explanatory videos, YouTube videos, mobile apps and many other applications and formats.

Depending on the requirements, we collaborate with specialist partners when localising multimedia, who, for example, have a speaker’s index or audio/video equipment for editing videos or creating subtitle files at the beginning.
Due to the scale and complexity of multimedia projects, we naturally look for proof of qualifications and experience in localisation.

Do you run or manage multimedia services and want to localise content for different target groups, languages and applications? Then talk to us. Our localisation experts will be happy to advise you on sensible and effective measures and options.

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