CONSULTING SERVICES on VIDEO LOCALIZATION - José Henrique Lamensdorf - translation - tradução

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This page is intended mostly for translation agency project managers, aka PMs.

Anyway, if you are not one of them, be my guest to read it.

Every now and then I get contacted by a translation project manager with a video localization project.

If you are thinking about feature films or TV series, don't. These projects are handled by specialized firms that don't handle any other kind of translation work. Such firms are heavily equipped and staffed to provide turn-key large-video dubbing or subtitling services. Translation there is just one step - no matter how important - in a larger process. These projects should never reach a translation agency.

The typical video localization project that a PM in a translation agency gets is from a client whose core business does NOT include video production or distribution. It may be a regular client using other services, or a newcomer who saw your firm offering video translation services.

A few of the most typical features usually found in these projects, which I group under "corporate video" are:

    • They were not produced by the end-client itself, but outsourced to some external producer.
    • Your client doesn't know squat about video production, but they know a lot about the content and the audience.
    • Projects are much smaller, playing times usually spanning from 30 seconds to 30 minutes (though there are exceptions).
    • Highest quality is paramount, as the company image will be at stake.
    • Production budget is immensely smaller, and the audience figures will be much smaller too.
    • Exhibition options are often varied, typically not cinemas, DVD, or BD.
    • Large feature film/TV series dubbing or subtitling studios are NOT eager to take them.

Of course, a translation PM is skilled and experienced in handling a complex translation project, even if it involves a relatively large team of translators and reviewers, often working into different languages, plus DTP operators.

However a video localization project involves a number of options and diversified technical decisions to be made. As we've seen above, the typical corporate video client doesn't know much - if anything - about them. They usually have one or more videos in one language, which they want to show to an audience in another language, quite often in a different setting, using different media, and for a different purpose from the one for which they were originally produced.

While such a client is pretty knowledgeable on the desired outcomes of plain translation projects, such as an agreement to be signed, a printed or electronic newsletter, catalog, spec sheet, proposal, instruction manual, presentation, etc., they don't know the countless options that are available to video, nor each of such option's advantages and potential setbacks. For these, good customer service should include guidance on what would be the most adequate and cost-effective possibilities.

I have been deeply involved the most varied types of corporate video localization projects since 1987. I can handle/manage any part of such projects, over a much long path, the most extreme case being from VHS tapes + PPT slides to a fully interactive DVD including dubbed or subtitled video and varied navigation based on choices made on-the-fly by the spectator/operator.

This experience enabled me to offer my clients complete guidance regarding video localization projects, mostly on how they can get the most bang for the buck by making the right choices. As a safety net, I know exactly what, where, and how to reliably outsource anything I can't do myself, to offer you the complete package, or tips where it would be advisable for you to hire such services.

I tried to pack all that "video localization intel" for translation agency PMs. First into an e-learning course, then an online video, later an e-book... and every time I tried, the amount of information began to stack up so high, that I couldn't see the finish line any more. It suddenly dawned upon me that I shouldn't expect a translation PM to absorb all that information, which took me almost three decades to discover in practice, and over a thousand projects to accrue... if they would be handling such jobs only now and then.

So I decided to reverse the game... I'd offer this guidance as a service.

What's the catch?

The catch - and there is one - is very simple and straightforward.

I have been offering the very same service for free to my clients on each and every video job they assign to me. Every time they make me a specific request for a video job, if I have reason to believe that their client's interests will be better served otherwise, either in cost or effectiveness, I state my case, and challenge them to think it over under the light of the information I provide them.

I uphold a policy of charging for everything I do, while striving to spare my clients from spending on anything they really don't - or won't - need. Some colleagues may think otherwise, but I don't see a point in taking advantage of my clients' possibly limited knowledge of the options available, just in order to beef up my invoice. I think my clients have needs to be fulfilled as cost-effectively as possible, as opposed to merely a budget to spend.

However my coverage is limited. I only translate either way between English (US as target) and Portuguese (BR as target). I offer subtitling services involving French, Spanish, and Italian - languages that I speak but don't translate professionally - under partnership with a few carefully selected colleagues who serve these languages. However my partners only translate, which involves a relatively predictable cost, and where effectiveness is limited to ensuring translation quality. I do the rest.

Depending on the projects you get from your clients, you may hire a do-it-all like me, or maybe a team of translators, spotters, subtitle burners, etc. However none of them is likely to have a vested interest in checking options beyond whatever was expressly written on the order.

My role here would be to give you the tools to justify rewriting the order to best serve your clients' interests. If there is any catch, after I'm done, it will be yours: you won't be buying services your client doesn't really need.

So how does it work?

Again, I tried to develop a questionnaire covering all the information I'd need to provide some sensible guidance. As it began growing in complexity, I gave up. You'd have to learn too much about video options in corporate usage to answer it properly.

The best solution I found was for you to use this form to send me as much information on the project you have. I might have to ask you a few more specific questions and, based on all the answers, I'll provide you some guidelines.

What would be some examples of the information I would provide?

  • Is the best option dubbing or subtitling? (General issues on this are covered on this page, however I'll be providing pros and cons specific to the project at hand for you to convince your client.)

  • Is it (cost-wise) worth transcribing the video in its source language before translating? (This often depends on the ideal workflow when there is more than one target language involved.)

  • Is the source video image/file size adequate for the intended purpose/output? (It may be too small for large-screen display, another source video might be required. Conversely, files could be too large for downloading and playing on portable devices; reducing the image size could be more practical, and save some costs in burning subtitles.)

  • Will there be any audio issues that should be fixed in the process? (Sometimes audio is so troubled that it will be necessary to fix it, before ordering a translation that may come out flawed and/or too expensive.)

  • What would be the most economical/efficient workflow?

  • For dubbing... What's the M/F dubbing cast headcount required? (Must-have info for you to get an estimate on dubbing costs.)

  • For dubbing... Does the M+E (music & sound FX) track - unless provided separately - have any reason to be unusually expensive?

  • For subtitling... Is it possible to save on burning subtitle costs by generating them in real time during play?

  • Many other pieces of information deemed useful to carry out that specific project.

Fine! I've read this far. Any bonus for me?

Yes! Links to some essential FREE software any Project Manager should have to handle video requests.

1. VLC Media Player - An all-round video player for you to watch videos and DVDs, listen to audio files, etc. It can generate subtitles on-the-fly.

2. PlayTime - Just drag'n'drop a bunch of varied audio/video files there to get detailed info on playing time, frame size in pixels, etc.

3. ImgBurn - Enables you to convert an entire DVD into one single image file which you can transfer to your vendors via cloud, as well as to use that image file (if you get one from your vendors) to rebuild that DVD with its complete structure.

What do I benefit from using this consulting service?

You won't have to watch the video. I'll be doing it for you.

Even if you were to watch the video, you wouldn't have all the information I tried - and gave up on - packing into an e-learning course or e-book, the experience accrued from having personally handled over a thousand such projects.

Simple as that, you'll be outsourcing video localization job analysis for cost-effectiveness with an expert.

Great! I wanna do it! How should I proceed?

After you have receive a video request, answer the questionnaire, get those questions answered by your end-client, and send me these with the video(s).

In case you have any questions, be welcome to ask, using the e-mail button on the menu at the left.

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