With the advent of Smart TVs, we have become accustomed to seeing subtitles for almost anything we watch—and we all know as well that the quality of the subtitles ranges widely from professional and accurate to slapdash and not very helpful.
At the same time, organizations all over the world are struggling to develop and maintain multi-language training and support (help desk) videos for everything from learning how to use new software to replacing belts on your washing machine. Support videos have found favor because they drastically reduce the load on call centers and can be played over and over until the end-user understands the procedure that’s being described. But keeping them updated and localized can be challenging.
Limitations of Subtitles
Many organizations have turned to localization specialists. Often, localization efforts result only in translated subtitles—and, while these may be okay for watching movies, TV shows and social media, subtitles in training and support videos are probably not very helpful for someone who really needs to learn a complicated or important process or understand a key concept to solve a problem.
When it comes to training, instructional, and helpdesk support videos, we are now considering videos that are only a few minutes in length, have usually one speaker, and a very clear point to make. Most importantly, the audience has a specific purpose. These people are hoping to have their problem addressed and solved right there in the video itself. So, the visual cues in these videos are usually important. But if the viewer is busy reading the subtitles on the bottom of the screen, they will likely miss out on the important steps being shown on the screen. Using subtitles in these types of videos is, therefore, distracting and tend to defeat the purpose.
If your video contains on-screen text and graphics that also need to be translated, subtitling it may make the video too text-saturated. Adding subtitles in this situation may be a problem because, not only does it create more text for the viewer to read, there will not be enough time to read everything before the screen changes. For these purposes, dubbing is actually a preferred solution.
Subtitles are usually placed at the bottom third of the screen. Sometimes, important visual or graphical elements might be at the bottom of the screen, making them obscured by the subtitles. There would have to be technical workarounds to place the subtitles elsewhere on the screen, if possible.
Sometimes the subtitles can be rendered a bit difficult to read if the background image is quite busy or the contrast between the text and the visual is not big enough. As you can see from the image below, parts of the white subtitle text have blended into the white background, making it difficult to read.
Advantages of Dubbing
Dubbing, as defined in terms of video localization, is an audio recording of the video script that the viewer hears translated into their own language. It replaces the original voice track (sound effects and background music can be retained).
Dubbing allows the viewer to focus on the entire video, rather than trying to both read the subtitle text appearing in the bottom one-third of the screen and what information or action is displayed on screen. The viewer can follow instructions smoothly and acquire the information they need to solve their problem.
With dubbing, the viewer will not miss out on anything if they look away from the screen, unlike with subtitles. Also, when the video has more than one voice, the contrast of different voices makes it easier for the viewer to tell the character or role apart and understand what is being said easily. Reading the subtitles and trying to follow who is speaking at the same on the screen adds another layer of confusion.
The key factor in whether to use dubbing over subtitles depends on the purpose of your video and your audience. For instructional, training and support videos, as illustrated in this blog post, dubbing is the best solution. Subtitles would detract from the main purpose – to learn how to do something or to understand a complicated process or concept. Dubbing provides an overall more effective result for you as the video producer and a more pleasurable experience for the audience.
Video dubbing is available today from VideoLocalize. Get in touch to learn more and make a demo appointment!