Translation of Video Subtitles

 Translation of Video Subtitles​ 

Translation of Video Subtitles and Video Scripts

Your Audio and Text Material Translated for YouTube, Vimeo and Other Video Portals

More and more companies are turning to video for their international marketing strategy and, in this context, face the challenge of localizing video content quickly and cost-effectively. Our full service from the creation of transcripts to the translation of subtitles or the delivery of voice-overs in foreign languages is the solution for this!

While the need for subtitling and translation services is increasing, some companies have difficulty finding the right, experienced service provider who can deliver quality at a reasonable price. By necessity, many YouTubers rely on poor automatic (machine) generation of transcripts and translations.

In a professional environment, however, this is not a viable solution. Incorrect or even ridiculous translation of video content immediately sheds a bad light on your business and can make some promotions fizzle out ineffectively.

D.O.G. Services at a Glance

We offer our clients a worry-free, full service for the translation of videos and commercials:

  • Creation of transcripts and subtitles
  • Compilation of multilingual corporate terminology
  • Translation of subtitles or transcripts
  • Dubbing of translations into foreign languages by experienced actors (voiceover)
  • Testing localized video versions
  • Analysis of videos for cultural and technical localization aspects

Transcript and Subtitles in Videos

The difference between subtitles and a transcript is that subtitles are another editing step after the transcript is created. Small units are formed from the transcript, which appear on the screen in sync with the audio. Typically, subtitles for a video are located at the bottom of the screen and take up a maximum of two lines of up to 43 characters, although this number may vary for some languages and output media (for example, 23 characters for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean).

The linguistic and technical quality of the spoken material can differ greatly. In interviews, the speaker will rarely speak in a way that is fit to print, and his or her statement will contain quite a few “Um…”, slips of the tongue, or grammatical errors. Background noise can also affect the content of the transcript. In professional corporate videos, improvisation is rare. The speaker reads a text aloud or takes inspiration from it. In the case of freely spoken texts, therefore, the question of how much adaptation is permitted or desired in the transcription has to be clarified. Is it permissible to correct slips of the tongue, eliminate grammatical errors, omit superfluous words, or insert missing words? These are questions that we clarify with you in advance for certain projects. Otherwise, we follow the recommendations of the manual by Dresing & Pehl (2018) for freely spoken texts.

Before the translation starts, we have the client approve the transcript in the case of problematic texts.

Steps for Completing Translated Video Subtitles

Videos or movies consist of image and sound stored on separate tracks. There are different scenarios for preparing information for different target groups and countries.

Figure 1 Localization workflow for videos and language files

Some producers of videos already offer subtitles in the original language as an aid for people with hearing problems. Keyword here: “Web Accessibility Directive” – EU Directive 2016/2102 on barrier-free access to websites. Users can turn subtitles on or off depending on their preference.

While subtitles are optional for the original language, translation requires a written form: a transcript or subtitles. Thus, if the original text is not available as text, the spoken material must first be transcribed. A transcript is a verbatim duplicate of a spoken text. It is then the basis for the further steps in the translation process.

Often the creation of a transcript is accompanied by the development of a glossary to optimize the quality of the transcript and translation.

After that comes the translation, where we have to follow certain rules. Depending on whether the final product is to be translated subtitles or a spoken translation (voiceover), there are again different work steps and specifications.

Translation of Videos

Usually, translation proceeds similarly to many normal text translations. Here, too, the technologies used in translation projects are applied. Translation memory tools rarely bring benefits in terms of reusing existing translations in video translation, as spoken texts are characterized by a high degree of individuality. However, they have advantages in terms of concordance (searching for translated expressions in already translated content) or terminology integration. Machine translation in combination with post-editing can also be beneficial for extensive content and certain types of text.

Before each project, we review the content, both linguistically and content-wise, to identify features to pay special attention to. For example, in a product video, it is usually important that the product names are consistent and match the company terminology – if it is available. In individual cases, the pronunciation of a word must also be coordinated. For example: is the acronym “SaaS” pronounced as “S-A-A-S” or “sass”?

In videos where the speech sequences follow each other in very short intervals, the length of the translated subtitles can be a problem. For an average reader, a time of 5-6 seconds is considered for reading and understanding two subtitle lines. If the translation is 20% or 30% longer than the original, the viewer of the video may not have enough time to read the text reasonably. You can’t lump all readers together because age, education, and content affect reading speed. In order to keep the translated subtitles in sync with the picture, if necessary, a strategy must be agreed with the client, such as shortening the content of the translation so as not to exceed a certain time frame. When the translation is subsequently dubbed in, certain translators are used who have mastered this special know-how. Audiovisual translators are also proficient in so-called lip-synchronous translation.

Localization of Videos

In some cases, commercials or videos may contain elements that may be problematic either in the linguistic or non-linguistic area for their purpose and target audience abroad. It can be symbols, politically interpretable motifs (such as maps and borders), technical aspects (e.g., recommending a browser for a product advertisement that is difficult to access in the target country), or linguistic expressions and examples. These are aspects to which we draw attention during editing.

SRT and VTT Subtitle File

Different file formats support subtitling such as SRT (Sub Rip Text), VTT (WebVTT – Web Video Text Track). The SRT format is the most commonly used format. SRT files are supported by many video programs such as the open-source Subtitle Edit. SRT files are text files which can be read and edited in a normal text editor. Each subtitle sequence (usually 1-2 lines) appears in a paragraph together with a sequence number and time information (timecode). The switching time is specified in the form “00:00:02,142 –> 00:00:04,101”. If you want to edit not only the subtitle text but also the switching time, it is recommended to use a subtitle editor.


Once the translation is complete, it is integrated into the video as subtitles or, if necessary, as a new audio track that replaces the original track (dubbing) or as a second audio track that overlays the original track (voiceover). Testing of the translated or localized version by a native speaker is recommended. We offer this service for customer projects on request.

Reference and Example Projects

We have localized professional training or promotional videos for numerous clients. Frequently requested translations are the target and source languages English, Spanish, French and Italian. Video content translations are often transcripts of seminars, podcasts, courses as well as translation of subtitles for promotional videos, tutorials or social media videos.


Any questions about our products or services?

Please contact us at any time:

  • Phone: +49 (0) 7152 35411-0
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  • Form:  request a quote / send a message
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