Explainer Videos

FAQ: Dubbing, Subtitles and Translations

Claude Harrington 09.21.2015

The goal of an explainer video is, of course, to explain and share your message with a desired audience. But while we spend most of our time trying to craft the best possible version of that message, it’s important to also ask yourself: Who is the desired audience? Do they all speak English? And, if not, what’s the best way for me to deliver this video to them?

So don’t panic! We’ll help you come up with a solution. And as a starting point, here’s an answer guide to some of the most frequently asked questions…

What is the best way to make my video shareable with an international audience?

There are two approaches to this:

  1. Subtitles: keep the A/V of your video exactly the same but, at the bottom of the screen, add subtitles in the language required.
  2. Dubbed Voiceover: keep the video exactly the same, but re-record a new audio track in the language that you need.

Regardless of which route you choose to go with, it’s important to note that the first step will always be the same: translating the audio/text of your script into the new language of choice. Then, after we’ve got that full-text translation, we can implement it into a subtitle format or find a talented voiceover artist fluent in that language.

With subtitles, what is an .srt file and how does it work exactly?

.srt is a text-only file that can be laid on top of a video in order to add subtitles. What this means—and why .srt has become the popular format for subtitle translations—is that your original video is not altered or manipulated in any way.

Instead, the .srt file essentially functions as an added layer. Think of it almost like an outfit of clothing. It doesn’t in any way change the underlying content, but it dresses up your video in such a way that can convey your message to a different audience. The alternative to this method would be “burnt in” or “hardcoded” subtitles.

What are “burnt in” or “hardcoded” subtitles?

Unlike the .srt file format, which doesn’t actually alter the original video (instead, as noted, the subtitles are layered on top), “burnt in” or “hardcoded” subs are directly added on top of the original video file.

Returning to our analogy from above—where .srt files are depicted as various and interchangeable outfits—burnt in subtitles would be the equivalent of a tattoo. Something added on top of what’s already there, and which cannot be altered or removed.

What languages can you translate into?

Whatever you need, really. Although we certainly have more experience working with some languages than others, we are committed to finding a solution for whatever your audience may be.

The reason we’re able to do so with confidence is because we work with trusted-third party experts (providers that are heavily vetted and who have continually provided us with outstanding service).  And even though we won’t always understand the foreign language we’re working with, we make a priority ensure that the details, nuances, and intricacies of your script are addressed and presented with the utmost clarity. That’s why, after we’ve received a draft of the translation, we’ll make sure to verify it with native speakers for accuracy and authenticity.

At what point in the course of animation should begin the translation process?

The earlier you let us know that this is a service you will need, the better for all of us. That way we can line up providers in advance and build your translation needs into our timetable for delivery.

As for the translation itself (to be used for subtitles and/or dubbed voiceover), this will begin right after the video is wrapped. That way we can take into an account any tweaks to the script that occur during the production process.

What if my video includes animated [English] words in certain places?

This is not uncommon. Many animated videos make use of on-screen text. In these cases, you have two options:

  1. Keep the visuals as is, and simply include translated in the subtitles.
  2. Recreate the graphic elements of a scene in language of translation.

The choice is yours to make. Both approaches are effective, but we typically recommend recreating the text, as it makes for a more cohesive narrative.

How long does the translation take?

For subtitles, it usually takes about a week (though it depends upon the language of request). For dubbing, it will take longer than that (as we’ll have to go through the voice casting process).

Okay, I know this is something we’ll need! How much does it cost?

Because there are several variables (i.e. language/s of choice, delivery format, etc.) the cost will depend upon your needs. So to receive a specified quote for your needs, please contact one of our account managers:

  • SaraJane Askildsen: Sarajane[at]idearocketanimation[dot]com
  • Denise McArthur: Denise[at]idearocketanimation[dot]com

SJ Art denise art

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