Video Essentials

Translating Videos Opens Up New Regions, Leads to Big Savings

As companies create more of their own videos in-house, they’re facing new challenges. One of those is how to serve multi-language video to a global audience. A panel at the 2013 Streaming Media East conference today explored solutions for streaming in multiple languages.

“We’re seeing some common patterns,” said Marc Osofsky, SVP and CMO for translation company Lionbridge Technologies. Companies are increasingly creating their own video studios and taking that work away from agencies. They’re creating video for marketing, training, corporate communications, and other areas. They’re getting sophisticated with green screens and other effects, and are hiring staff away from agencies. Osofsky said he’s surprised at how quickly that entire process is happening. Companies then struggle with how to translate their videos for other countries.

Santiago Muro of WOBI and Marc Osofsky of Lionbridge on the multi-language video panel.

Santiago Muro of WOBI and Marc Osofsky of Lionbridge on the multi-language video panel.

Traditional approaches to translating video, such as getting a professional and creating a voice over track, and “too slow and too costly,” said Osofsky. Going with Google Translate produces subtitles cluttered with errors and leads to viewer complaints. Solutions that offer fast turnaround and low price come at varying degrees of quality. Companies may decide to go with lower quality solutions for internal use, to save money, but spend more for higher-quality customer-facing videos.

Some experts now believe that 20 percent of all corporate communications should be video, Osofsky said. Keeping up with that demand is tough: companies currently face weeks of delay when launching new products since they can’t create multi-language video fast enough to keep up with their launch cycles.

One solution to getting multiple-language support quickly, Osofsky said, is to create keywords in that new language and then crowdsource the actual translation. He’s seeing a trend in doing translation that way.

Other speakers suggested that content owners wait to see ithere is interest from a country before investing in a separate language track for it.

There’s no one standard use case for video translation, Osofsky noted. One area where he’s seeing activity is in call support. Many companies are trying to replace phone support, which is expensive, with online support videos. Translating those videos into multiple languages makes them much more useful and delivers big cost savings. Osofsky said he has one client saving from $5 to $10 million annually after translating support videos.

Scroll down to view the full discussion:


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  1. I have 30 years of experience in this area and I can tell you that Google and crowd sourcing translation of corporate media is a bad idea. It doesn’t take much for a bad translation to completely embarrass and tarnish a companies reputation.

    Posted by Mark Ohlsen | May 25, 2013, 7:37 pm
  2. As Canada’s only bilingual broadcaster, it’s imperative for us to use multi-track, multi-lingual files for our videos. All of our video content is available in both English and French (as well as the original sound – floor track). Storing all of our videos separately would have been cost prohibitive, thus the use of video files multiple audio tracks. We accomplish this using Wowza media server equiped with the ‘ModuleMP4AudioChannelSelector’ module, and some extra configuration in the application.xml. The player is sent the video url with the audioIndex variable and associated value appended. Works like a charm.

    Posted by Terry D'Entremont | May 28, 2013, 3:52 pm
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