Video translation: four main solutions

Understand the ins and outs of effective video translation

Video translation is one of the ways to make your multilingual content accessible to a wider range of people, thereby expanding your audience.

The first stage begins with transcription of audio and video content into text, for translation into the required languages. This is then integrated in the video in the form of subtitles or dubbing.

Video translation applies to the most widely consumed types of digital content today: webinars, promotional videos, tutorials, training materials, YouTube videos, various social network content, video games, films, etc.

The main aim is to ensure that the target audience understands the message you are trying to convey in their native language. The more care that goes into your translations, the more accurate they will be, which will facilitate understanding and recognition of your brand by your audience.

Video translation is also a powerful way to improve SEO or organic referencing in search engines, which will better rank multilingual video content. If you want to have your videos translated, you have a range of services available to you today, which will help you achieve more accuracy, more speed, or both, depending on your needs and the desired level of quality.

But how to choose between a low-cost online automatic video translation service and a more expensive subtitling or dubbing service involving professional translators? 

Why is there such a wide range of values, with prices ranging from a few cents to €40 or more per minute? 

What is the added value brought by subtitling professionals and a specialist language service provider?

Is investing in video translation by a language service provider a sustainable option?

To answer these questions, here is an overview of the four main solutions, which correspond to different service levels:


Fully automatic subtitling

Automatic subtitling is the most affordable option, but is not the most reliable because the finished product is often highly approximative. It is often not accurate enough for an important project or for videos where intelligibility or sound clarity are sub-optimal.

YouTube, for example, is one of the most commonly used platforms for video transcription and subtitling.

Based on the automatically generated text (transcription) in the source language, Google Translate automatically translates the text and creates subtitles in the target language.

This can seem very convenient, particularly given that the result is produced in almost no time. However, while it generates subtitles for all types of videos, there are many transcription errors, misinterpretations and mistranslations.

Entirely based on AI, this type of translation produces many mistakes and inaccuracies. Automatically generated subtitles become tedious to read, and even irrelevant, reducing the value of the translated video, particularly for professional use.

In short, it is not the best option for the translation of your professional videos.

Subtitling with professional translation

With this method, the focus is on the translation, which is accurate: it is a translation carried out by professional translators with minimal adjustments to fit the playback speed.

Therefore, synchronisation of the subtitles with the audio/video is not perfect. This is a good solution for situations where you want to subtitle content in other languages without focusing on the quality of the synchronisation itself.

The drawback of this solution lies in discomfort for the audience caused by any time lag between the image and the text.

In addition to annoying readers of the subtitles, it may even get in the way of your message being conveyed.

This solution is however suitable for videos that will be used in the short term (viewed just a few times), but where the meaning needs to be fully understood and the terminology needs to be consistent.

For example: videos presenting a message from a company’s management team to employees around the world, certain kinds of videos presenting surveys or reports, training videos and tutorials, etc.

With this service, a professional carries out the transcription in the source language, translates the transcribed texts, and then creates a .srt file in the target language. This file will be ready for linking and integration in a .mp4 or .mov video file.

Premium subtitling

Producing a more pleasant viewing experience and greater intelligibility, this method offers a high level of adaptation for visual content and the target language, as well as smoother subtitle cueing. It is more expensive, as it involves many stages.

Its application is ideal for educational and training videos that will be viewed many times, as well as product presentations, sales and marketing videos, and any other priority content where accuracy is important.

Step by step, this service includes:

  • A professional translator carries out the transcription in the source language and then prepares the timing.
  • They proceed with translation of the transcribed text.
  • Next, they perform precise cueing (timecode) of the translation according to the audio and image (adapting the length of sentences and reorganising).
  • Lastly, they take care of embedding or overlaying the subtitles in the image, so as to make them as legible as possible.

If required, subtitles can also be adapted to a specific graphic charter for your brand.

In addition, SEO translation can be carried out before the content itself is translated, to select the most effective keywords in the target language and include them in the subtitles, thereby improving natural referencing.

Naturally, the translation’s quality is enhanced by the use of CAT tools.

A series of tools and software solutions are used, including for transcription, CAT (Computer Assisted Translation, based on translation memories) and video editing.
The video is produced and delivered to the client with fully integrated and edited subtitles.


This is the most comprehensive method, enabling faultless and smooth intelligibility for viewers.
It conveys both the meaning and emotions contained in the video. It ensures that everything sounds right in your audience’s language.

Traditional dubbing requires a significant budget, because, in addition to the same preparatory steps involved in subtitling (transcription and translation), it requires a recording session with one or more voice actors. You will need to budget for a recording studio and sound engineering professionals.

This is an excellent investment for a video that will be widely viewed, is important for marketing, will have long-term visibility and must be available in the language spoken by all your audiences.

From the beginnings of film and video media, dubbing has been performed by recording actors whose voices are selected to match the original voices in the source language.

However, a new, more affordable AI-based approach has been developed, where the dubbing is generated by a synthetic voice.

While the emotional dimension is reduced, and the result is slightly unnatural, this kind of dubbing is sufficient for many professional uses, providing a satisfactory listening comfort for people viewing the translated video.

It offers an intermediate quality solution between subtitling and traditional dubbing.

Dubbing with a synthetic voice is therefore a handy solution to get controlled and quality dubbing of your brand’s content, even if the target audiences remain limited. It is perfectly suitable, for example, for the translation of a webinar or conference.

Why turn to a language service provider rather than a low-cost solution?

There are many reasons: a low-cost solution (an online platform providing an automatic subtitling service) may be less expensive in the short term, but it can only carry out basic work.

You can call on the services of a language service provider (or LSP) when you need more sophisticated subtitling or dubbing; it can provide the necessary expertise to produce a meticulous, high-quality result.

An LSP will work on your words to make sure they are legible and comprehensible, as well as on the timing/cueing for a smooth viewing experience. In this scenario, working with an LSP will help achieve a totally finished product. You won’t have to worry about the fluency of the text: the LSP will take care of it for you.

Because we possess this expertise, we understand that you do not want to compromise on the quality of your content and are here to help you achieve your aims. We provide professional, personalised translation services with controlled lead times and costs, so you can focus on what matters: your message.

Our translation team is made up of native speakers with extensive experience in translation and subtitling technologies, as well as the use of translation tools. You can be assured that we will deliver high-quality translations that meet all the required standards.