Localisation of Video Content: Why is it important?

In recent years, video marketing has become one of the most popular ways in which companies connect with their audience. In fact, in 2021 it was noted that 86% of marketing professionals used video as a marketing tool. Moreover, 78% of these professionals stated that video has helped to increase their sales. Quite impressive statistics, you have to agree!

The types of content being produced varies greatly, with some companies sharing explainer videos, product reviews and video testimonials and others holding live streams, uploading vlogs and making ads. The versatility of the medium makes it so attractive for marketers and the visual and sonic elements mean that it’s appealing for all users. After all, we can all appreciate some pretty pictures and some uplifting music.

Why localise your video content?

However, this universal appeal has certain limitations… limitations that primarily concern language! After all, how can you expect someone to truly understand the selling point of your product, the glowing customer review or catchy slogan, if they don’t understand the words? Well, the answer is you can’t.

Although English is considered lingua-franca on the internet, there are still many consumers who don’t speak English. What is more, even for English-speaking consumers, it may not be the best approach to try and sell to them in English. At the end of the day, just because someone can speak English doesn’t mean they want to speak English all of the time. In fact, studies suggest that 76% of consumers prefer purchasing products which have information in their own language.  

To truly benefit from the ‘universal’ reach of video content therefore, it’s vital that you localise your video content. Whether that be through dubbing or translating subtitles, you are guaranteed to reap the rewards.

Advantages of Localising Video Content

Improve Search Engine Optimisation

Although search engines such as Google cannot watch your video content, they can search for keywords within the text. By adding subtitles to your video therefore, you consequently add metadata that Google can read, thus improving your SEO ranking.

Localisation of video content: SEO benefits

Build Global Reach

Furthermore, if these subtitles are in multiple languages, you will be able to improve your global SEO and increase the likelihood that your content will be seen by potential clients searching in different languages. It is approximated that 72% of consumers spend the majority of their time on sites in their native tongue. Offering localised subtitles or dubbed video content therefore offers the opportunity of reaching new markets.

Localisation of video content: globalisation benefits

Better Customer Relationships

Once you’ve reached your customers, talking to them directly in their own language stands to create a positive relationship between your brand and your clientele that will likely be long-lasting. Essentially, by speaking to them directly, you are personalising your product. You are showing your audience that you value them and their support. This can only stand to benefit you and your business’ reputation in the future.

Localisation of video content: customer relationship benefits

Offering translated subtitles or dubbed content for your video marketing is a no-brainer. It allows you to reach a wider audience and build long-lasting relationships.

If you’re interested in localising your video content but are unsure if dubbing or subtitles is the best way forward, why not take a read of a previous blog post exploring different types of video content and their best suited localisation means? Alternatively, feel free to get in touch and we’d be more than happy to offer our advice!

Machine Generated Subtitle Quality Research

Over the past two decades, the development of digital technology has made audiovisual products an indispensable form of entertainment. Fansubbing, an online subtitling activity made by fans for fans, has shown that audiences are no longer passive products but are playing an increasingly active role in both the production and consumption of audiovisual materials (Pérez-González 2020: 105).

Fansub groups are an established phenomenon in China. They are groups of people that produce and publish subtitles for movies and TV programmes in foreign languages. Viewers are often not charged to watch. The translators themselves are frequently paid very little or nothing for their efforts.

The contribution of fansubbing to society has been given much credit by the general public and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. It was also highly praised for its free-sharing public spirit (Zhang 2013: 37).

Yet, some of the bigger subtitle groups do make money by placing advertisements within subtitled content or by relying on platform views. Because of this, a lot of subtitle groups use machine-translated subtitles after downloading a movie so that they can be the first channel to release the film and consequently receive more viewers and profit from it. Nevertheless, quality is another issue. When publishing the video, some subtitle organisations will indicate that it was machine translated, but others won’t. The viewing experience can nevertheless be impacted by evident inaccuracies, despite the fact that machine translation has significantly improved in recent years.

This blog will be a case study analysing the Chinese subtitle quality of the video: “How the British Took Over India” – TREVOR NOAH. The video is published on Bilibili, a Chinese video platform and marked as machine translated subtitle. The quality assessment model I will use to discuss the subtitles is the FAR model put forward by Pederson (2017). The FAR model assesses subtitle quality in three areas: Functional equivalence, acceptability and readability.

For the chosen video, the three aspects will be analysed below.

Functional Equivalence

The first area is functional equivalence, i.e., how well the message or meaning is rendered in the subtitled translation. Ideally, a subtitle would convey both what is said and what is indirectly meant. Especially for stand-up comedy, the humour can occur on different levels: it can arise from the interaction between word and image, or a play on words (Díaz Cintas & Remael,2007: 214–215). Translation of humour is challenging for humans, not to mention machines. The debate over whether it was presumptuous to add the word “great” to the country’s name, Great Britain, does not convey humour at all because it is primarily concerned with word-for-word translation.


The second area is the acceptability of the subtitles, i.e., how well the subtitles adhere to target language norms. The errors in this area are those that make the subtitles sound foreign or otherwise unnatural. Error types include grammar errors, spelling errors and idiomaticity errors. When referring to the god who appointed the queen in the video, the Indian representative asked “Which god,” which is translated as “哪位大神(which great god).” In China, the term “great god” is typically used to refer to someone who is an authority in a particular field. There is obviously a difference and sounds unnatural.


The third aspect is readability, or how simple it is for the viewers to understand the subtitles. Overall, the subtitle makes sense. The reader is able to follow along because lines are typically five characters long. It does, however, occasionally have odd punctuation and segmentation. For instance, between 0:37 and 0:42, there is a line ending with “突然” (sudden-) and the word “间” (-ly) begins the following line. Furthermore, from 1:47 to 1:49, there is merely one period mark. Despite not affecting comprehension, they do affect the viewing experience.

Concluding Remarks

This analysis shows that machine-translated subtitles generally make sense when the video is viewed for entertainment purposes. Functional equivalence, acceptability, and readability are all three areas where it has errors. These subtitles are unreliable and should only be used for casual watching. The subtitles, however, must be of a better calibre if the movie is to be educational. Therefore, the moral responsibility should fall on the subtitling groups. They must carefully consider the purpose of subtitles as well as which types of media content are suitable for machine translation.


Díaz Cintas, J., & Remael, A. (2007). Audiovisual translation: Subtitling. St. Jerome. doi:

Pérez-González, L. (2020). “From the ‘Cinema of Attractions’ to Danmu: A Multimodal Theory Analysis of Changing Subtitling Aesthetics across Media Cultures.” In Monica Boria et al (eds). Translation and Multimodality: Beyond Words, London and New York: Routledge, pp.94-116.

Pederson, J. (2017), “The FAR model: assessing quality in interlingual subtitling”, The Journal of Specialised Translation, 28, pp. 210-229

Zhang, X. (2013), “Fansubbing in China”, Multilingual, pp.30-37

Guest post by Yuxiang Yuan.

Back-to-School Refresh: Subtitles

As part of our back-to-school refresh blog series, today’s blog will be going over some subtitle guidelines and why they are necessary. Despite playing an important role, guidelines do make subtitling that bit more difficult. This is why subtitling is such an art, and why a machine can’t produce the same high-quality subtitles that a professional human linguist can.

This blog will delve into some of the guidelines a little deeper and help to clarify what role they play in the quality of subtitles. Let’s get straight to it:

Syncing subtitles

It’s important to try and sync the subtitles to the visuals and the audio as best as possible. This is much easier said then done, however. By syncing the subtitles with the video, they will appear when the character’s lips are moving for example. This makes them feel more natural. The subtitles should also be in sync with the audio as much as possible too. Despite not necessarily understanding the audio, this will help the viewer read the subtitles.

Enough time to read

It is recommended that the subtitle should appear on screen for between one and seven seconds. This allows enough time for the viewer to read the subtitle. The time will depend on the subtitle’s CPS (characters per second).

The recommended figure is around 17 CPS, as this is based on the average reading speed.

Consider the visuals

For Latin alphabet languages, it’s advised that the character limit per line is 42. On top of this, a subtitle is recommended to have no more than 2 lines. This may not sound so bad, but for languages such as German for example where the words are considerably longer than English, this can be quite the challenge. So why are these guidelines necessary? It restricts the subtitle, to avoid it covering too much of the visuals.

On-Screen text

If there is text superimposed on the video, this is known as ‘on-screen text’. Common examples of this are ‘two years later…’ or maybe interviewee names. This can be subtitled, above or below the original text, however this covers more of the video. Alternatively, if the text was added as editable text, this could be changed on the video itself.

This decision would of course depend on the budget, as the first option is considerably cheaper than the latter.

Keep Subtitles Clear

Due to the restricted time and space with subtitles, it’s important to keep them clear and concise. Removing any unnecessary hesitations could help achieve this. Although it’s always worth considering whether the hesitation has an intended effect or not.

Time to Breathe

There is also a guideline which advises that there should be at least 2 frames between each subtitle. Around 24 frames are drawn each second, so this really is a very short gap. It may seem insignificant; however this gap allows our brains to refresh and acknowledge the new subtitle effectively.


Where we position subtitles is also key. The positioning must remain as consistent as possible. Subtitles can be moved to the top of the screen, so that it doesn’t interfere with the visuals.

However, you should try to avoid going from the top to the bottom and back to the top where possible.

This is because it makes it difficult for the viewer to follow the subtitles. If you need to change the location, extend the subtitle length so that the viewer can catch up.

We hope you have found this useful! We have of course only scratched the surface though! If you’d like to learn more about subtitling, please get in touch and we’d happily talk to you about subtitling your content.

To stay up to date with all things Web-Translations and our other Back-to-School Refresh blog posts, be sure to follow us on social media!

Lifting the Lid on Subtitles

Have you watched films and TV shows in a foreign language? Do you watch videos on mute? Then you’ve probably already experienced subtitles. They are the on-screen text that allows viewers to read what is being said.

Sometimes, businesses choose to use automatically generated subtitles. However, at Web-Translations, we advise opting to get your videos professionally subtitled. We’ll explain why during this blog.

How are professional subtitles created?

Once we’ve received a video file, we will send it off to our professional linguists to be transcribed. This ensures that the audio is understood correctly, consequently avoiding any errors. On auto-generated subtitles, this is a common issue, as, unlike humans, machines are unable to differentiate homophones. This results in mistakes.

This template will be translated into the chosen languages, and subtitles are then created. Our experienced subtitlers will translate and time-code them considering the appropriate guidelines. They will consider:

  • Reading speed
  • On-screen text
  • Character limits
  • On-screen action
  • Clarity – the removal of any unnecessary hesitations
  • Subtitle lines and positions

By considering these guidelines, your subtitles will look professional. They will also be appropriate for your audience. By investing in the subtitling process, mistakes will be avoided and your customers will notice that you care about them.

Image of hands typing on a laptop

Investing in professional subtitles shows your customers that you’re investing in them.

Why use Web-Translations, and not auto-generate them?

Auto-generated subtitles are cheaper, but the cost is shown by the quality. If the subtitles are too fast and your audience are struggling to read them, this is going to have a negative effect on your brand’s reputation. If there are mistakes, this leads to misunderstandings. Again, tarnishing your brand’s reputation. These details are also particularly important for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as they will rely on good quality subtitles.

Although the process of subtitling may seem daunting, at Web-Translations, we can take care of this for you. We use industry-leading software, professional linguists, and have expert knowledge on subtitling guidelines. Our Project Managers will coordinate the subtitling of your content, thus leaving you stress-free.

To find out more about our language solutions, read our services page here:  Or, if you’d like to talk to us directly, why don’t you fill in our contact form? We’re more than happy to help.

In the mood for foreign films?

It’s a comment you may have heard expressed before by many native English speakers: despite possessing an interest in foreign films and a willingness to embrace their ‘quirkiness’, it sometimes feels as though you have to be “in the mood” to watch them. After watching a French film the other night and hearing my housemate make this exact comment, my thoughts consequently drifted to how world cinema seems to have rapidly gained popularity over the last ten years in the U.K. (more…)