A Global Company’s Guide: English to Chinese Video Translation Workflow


Are you ready to tell your story, your brand’s story, in Chinese?

Videos can help global companies like you amplify your message in creative and compelling ways.

Imagine, people these days have an 8-second attention span, according to Microsoft’s findings, which makes digital marketing more challenging because of the highly increasing digitalized lifestyle.

READ MORE >>> China Playbook on Luxury Market (And Why Language and Culture Matter)

According to HubSpot’s survey in 2022, 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 99% of those who are using videos will continue to do so. Those who don’t use video marketing, 65% of them, say they plan to do it this year.

People love stories. They love to share, too.

It is a reminder as well that even if you have a sales quota to meet, data analytics to interpret, and goods and services to sell, you are still connecting to people and 72% of them (based on the survey mentioned) would like to learn about your product or service.

A Closer Look to Your Chinese Consumers: Why They Love Videos

While the data mentioned above are generally for everyone in the west, let’s take a look at your audience in China.

With more than 800 million internet users, and 98% of those are using mobile devices, their access to content, whether texts or videos is only a few taps and snaps away.

Based on the recent video content consumption in China, here are the top video platforms in January 2022 where they usually hang out.

But wait, there’s more. While China is definitely a huge market, diversity is also present among the residents. What is more interesting is that the consumers in lower cities are mobile junkies who prefer watching short videos as part of their leisure time.

As SCMP put it, “The number of monthly active users for short video apps in China doubled in 2022 to 414 million, according to the report. Mobile users in other countries are also embracing the format, making short-video apps the latest export from China’s internet industry.”

So, where do you start as a global company when it comes to language solutions?

As a global company, you may now be thinking of ways on how you can engage with your consumers in China. There are plenty of ways, but understanding the market is not an overnight project.

Even residents in higher and lower cities have their own digital habits.

That’s why many global businesses are exploring many ways to engage with their audience and understand that the Chinese market is also a diverse one where consumers in the higher tier cities have a different set of digital behavior as well.

For example, in lower-tier cities, consumers spend more time on online content, like games and video memberships, “with 24.9 percent of them spending over 500 yuan on online content per month compared with 20.7 percent for first-tier city netizens.”

Details of Chinese Video Translation Workflow

If you’re planning to translate your video in Chinese, this workflow will help you understand the process and what other vendors offer as well.

Knowledge of the workflow of the video translation helps our clients adjust the timeline and also set the right expectations throughout the cycle. In our terms, we have the TT-VO-SUB, which comprises 4 steps.

1 Transcription

When the script for video is not available, we transcribe the video into texts first, before we send them to the translators. It will make things easier for them as it would be costly if they multitask in transcription and translation work. The transcriber is skilled to listen to the nuisances and a native speaker who understands both the original language (e.g. English) and the target language (e.g. Chinese—Simplified or Traditional)

2 Translation

We choose the right translator who can handle the project and is familiar with the industry terms and jargons for translations. The translator also proofreads the texts and then submits to the client for approval before we proceed to the next step, the Voice-Over.

3 Voice-Over

Once the client gives us the “go” or confirms the texts, then we provide a wide selection of voice artists with samples. Depending on the preferences and also how the video is presented, the voice talent should also be consistent with how the video runs. We will stick with the voice talent that matches the requirements on speech speed, emotion, and style.

4 Subtitling

They say, “Save the best for last.” In subtitling, despite being the last procedure, it’s also a laborious task where voice dubbing professionals should meet the timeline of the video and match the content both visual audio in real-time—that means, as Sophie put it, “accuracy down to the millisecond.”

In this last step, the clients can choose two options for the final video:

SRT version – Our team can send the light-weight option so that we don’t have to send the huge video back, saving more time on file transfer for the client.
Embedded or compressed version — our team can send this version with voice-over. Some projects include voice-over plus captions in Chinese. These captions are called call-outs that require extra time and efforts from subtitling artists who are also video editors at the same time.
This is the typical workflow when clients work with us on Chinese video translation projects. While the steps may serve as a guide, the most important thing is that the deliverables meet the requirements and deadline.

After the Subtitling, the team of professionals also conduct the SUB-QA wherein they check the subtitles or captions on the video and other discrepancies or even misspellings.

Deliverables include the subtitled video in Chinese or any language or subtitle script file. Draft, proofread, final translation documents are also available and up-to-date TM and QA report to track the developments and project history.

Your final takeaway: How to start?

When should you start? Well, if you have a promotional video in English and would like to tap the China market, that could be your starting point. There are different types of videos which you can use to introduce your company.

Promotional video in Chinese may be a quick snippet about your product or service where you don’t have to be too aggressive in selling. Other companies use videos to educate potential customers about a certain topic or best practices in the industry.

For corporate clients, they usually use videos to train employees or cascade materials that may be useful for them to be productive and equip them with techniques based on their company’s policies.

For coaches and instructors, the amount of time and effort spent on their instructional videos and courses are huge and would require quite a handful of voice talents, transcribers, video editors and among others to localize the content.

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