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Audiovisual Translation: Transcription, Voiceover, Captions, Subtitles and Dubbing

Steps Involved in MultiMedia Translation - Transcend Translation

We’re in an era where a vast world has been reduced to a global village thanks to the emergence of digital technologies. Borders have been erased, and language barriers have been taken down. Translation has been key to the creation and sustenance of a global community. Niches such as video translation have become increasingly relevant due to a higher demand for visual aids to spread a message.

According to market research, a vast majority of viewers are likely to share the videos they’ve watched with others, enabling the content to reach a wider audience. The same research discovered that a video on social media would have far more shares and engagements than pictures or textual content put together. All these findings point to one thing – video is the most attractive media content.

The process of adapting video content for overseas markets and audiences that speak different languages is called audiovisual translation, and it involves certain concepts that we’ve listed here in this blog post.


To translate video content, it’s essential first to analyze the video. What follows next is transcription. This process entails the conversion of one media form to another. Specifically, the conversion of video or audio content to textual content. The textual content is then stored in a separate file which could be in PDF, Word, DOCX, or text format. Alternatively, the transcript can be displayed beneath the video content or on a web page.

While the content is being transcribed, timestamping is also being carried out. This is the process of indicating where a particular speech is located in the video content. Once the transcript has been created from the video file, it can be translated into another language(s) to reach a wider viewership. For instance, if a company is running a video ad and its target market is most of Europe, the target languages for the video transcript will be the major languages on the continent – French, Russian, English, German, and Italian.

Voice-Over Translation

As the name implies, voiceover provides new audio content for a video. Voice-over actors or actresses carry it out during the post-production process of the video. Voice-over is often confused with dubbing, but despite their similarities, they’re very different. Voiceover involves laying a recorded audio track over the video’s original audio and it’s most commonly used in video advertisements.

When a brand produces a video advertisement, its audio will be in a particular language. To get the message of the advertisement across to new markets, the company has to provide new audio content in the target languages of these markets.

Let’s say the original audio of the video content is in English, and the brand wants to break into the Asian market. A voiceover for the video ad will be done in languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, etc., to reach hundreds of millions of potential customers.

Captions Translation

This is another sub-niche of audiovisual translation. Captions are very similar to subtitles, but there’s a notable difference. Captions are a text version of the spoken part of a television, movie, or computer presentation. Captions were originally developed to aid deaf and hard-of-hearing people, but they are useful for a variety of situations. They enable viewers to understand still the message passed across in the video. Depending on the region or country your brand is trying to break into, these captions can be translated or localized to the language or dialect of your target audience. Audiovisual translators usually do caption translation.

Subtitle Translation

Unlike captions that display textual content on a video that’s not audible, the subtitle is textual content targeted at viewers who can hear the video’s audio content but need help understanding its meaning. For instance, if you want to view a movie produced in the Spanish language and you don’t understand the language, you can download a subtitle file in your preferred language and integrate it with the video file.

This form of video translation involves viewing the video and translating its original language to the target language(s), depending on the demand. A single movie can have subtitles in up to 20 languages.


In contrast to voiceover, dubbing aims to lip-sync and perfectly imitate the original speakers in video content. The original audio of the video content is removed, and the dubbed audio file in the target language of the intended audience is added. It’s a step further from voiceover because the translated audio content has to be in synergy with the lip movements of the speakers in the video.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, audiovisual translation takes several forms but has one primary goal – to make video content, be it movies, advertisements, etc., accessible and relatable to a bigger audience. It’s a key ingredient to the globalization of any brand that wants to break into and establish itself in any market across the world. A brand fully intent on becoming global should take audiovisual translation seriously.