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Foreign language video DVD production, foreign language interactive multimedia CD-ROM production, foreign language versions of other export marketing presentations.  Translation, localisation, production service for exporters and multinationals for marketing presentations at overseas exhibitions, sales presentations, conferences from award-winning multimedia and video producer, Enlightenment Interactive

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foreign language version production

making foreign language versions of video and multimedia

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These are some general guidelines to help make the creation of a multilingual video or multimedia sales presentation as painless as possible for exporters and multinational companies.

1. BRIEF YOUR PRODUCER

If making video or multimedia for the UK market, warn the producer that you intend to make various language versions, even if there will only be an English version to start with. This way the presentation can be designed from the outset so that it can be translated and dubbed easily.


2.BRIEF THE SCRIPTWRITER

He/she should avoid writing solid, "wall-to-wall" script, in other words continuous commentary without pauses. script for foreign language video or multimediaThis is important because certain languages are much more wordy than, say, English and may take longer to say the same thing. If the scriptwriter fails to do this, either the foreign language narrator will have to read extra fast, which may sound gabbled, or chunks of script may have to be left out in certain versions. English is normally read at a speed of around 2.5 words per second, plus pauses.  A rate of 1.5 words / second or 100 words / minute will allow for most foreign language versions.

If your presentation is dealing with a technical subject, insist that the script explains expressions and concepts which may not be readily understood in certain languages or for which there may not be a direct translation.

3. PEOPLE TALKING ON SCREEN

Any drama will obviously need to have sub-titles or to be lip-sync dubbed, so that the new words are spoken in time with the mouth movements of the original actors. Sub-titles are more readily accepted in some countries than in others. Lip-sync is a specialised and time consuming process.

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For the result to be convincing, you should use a specialistlip synch dubbing or subtitling of dialogue translator who must have not just a copy of the original script but also a copy of the completed video so that he/she can see the mouth movements. You will need to allow plenty of time in your schedule for this.

Commentary is most simply delivered as voiceover. Avoid using a front-of-camera presenter unless you shoot a new section of video for each language. Otherwise you will be into a lip-sync nightmare.

Interviews are more acceptable to the audience. The most popular technique is to hear the interviewee speaking in his/her own language for a few moments, then dip the level of the voice and mix the voice of an actor reading a translation of the interview over the top.

4. VIDEO AND MULTIMEDIA TRANSLATION AND LOCALISATION

Ideally the translation should be done by someone who is experienced in translating the spoken rather than the written word, both for reasons of style and timing; the new commentary must be a good fit. In the best of worlds, the translation will be done by the narrator, who will be a broadcaster or actor from the country or region concerned. He/she will need a copy of the original video as well as the script.

Allow time in your schedule for the translated script to go to your agent or local office abroad for checking. This is important to make sure that technical and business terms have been translated correctly and authentically, not just literally. The translator cannot be expected to know the current jargon for your industry. Also you have to watch out for material in your presentation which some cultures may find offensive, of course.

5. DUBBING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE SOUNDTRACK

The classic way to lay a foreign language soundtrack is "to picture". This means going to a studio which has therecording studio for dubbing foreign language soundtrack facility to run an audio recorder in sync with the video and to display the time code (hours/minutes/seconds/frames looking something like 00:12:54:13). The narrator will watch all this as he/she reads. The recorder may be tape-based or, more likely nowadays, a computer.

Before you go to the studio you will need one copy (a "submaster") of the video, probably on DVcam or the older Beta SP format with time code for each language. The soundtrack on your video should not be mixed, in other words one channel should have music and effects ("separate M and E"), the other the original commentary. When the new commentary is mixed back on, the original commentary will be wiped off. You should also take several copies of the script with the timecode of the start of each paragraph marked on it. This is so the recording engineer can find his way around quickly, and is particularly important if you are dubbing a language which is not written in Roman characters.

Always ask the narrator to listen through to the finished recording so that he/she can check it.

Most specialist dubbing studios are found in the major broadcasting centres (ie London in the UK, Hilversum in Holland), which is where the specialist translators and narrators are also to be found.

You may be offered a lower price option at the video edit facility where your presentation was produced. Very often this involves the narrator reading timed sections of script, ie knowing that he/she has to make a certain paragraph last 14 seconds, 23 seconds or whatever. These chunks are then laid back onto a submaster at the end of the recording. This can work quite well if the script is simple and the language is one you can follow easily, but if things don't go smoothly, the time for the extra editing may cancel out any savings you make by not using a specialist dubbing studio.

Allowing the narrator to record at his own speed, incidentally, is called "recording wild". You will then need to edit the pictures to the voice, rather than the other way round.

6. MAKING COPIES FOR DISTRIBUTION

You will now have quite an investment in your master tapes. A wise move is to make a safety master of each, a good quality copy on DVcam probably, just in case a tape is lost or damaged after your production has been taken off the studio's computer editing system.

Make sure the edit facility has marked up the tapes with their length, tv standard (PAL, SECAM or NTSC), language and audio details (ie "Ch 1- narrator, Ch 2 - M & E").

VHS was the universal viewing format nowadays, but is replaced by DVD in many markets. Where you have to be careful is to ensure that copies are made not just in the appropriate language, but also to the local tv standard. (See Local Standards). For example a Mandarin Chinese video will be watched on NTSC standard in Taiwan, but on PAL in mainland China.  DVD copies should be set to "Region 0" to avoid problems with regional settings on DVD players.

Multimedia CD-ROM does not have to follow these local tv standards. MPEG, AVI, WMV and the other video file formats are universal.

7. CENSORSHIP


Some countries which are politically or religiously sensitive may insist on seeing your presentation before it is let into the country. There have been horror stories of newly arrived export salesmen falling foul of customs officials who did not have the facility to watch the video, so merely destroyed it! Check with your local contacts if in doubt.
 

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