Requirements for Audio Visual Translations

Last Updated On: June 28, 2022


Audio Visual Translations

When you watch a TV series or film which originates from another country the chances are you will be either seeing the dialogue in subtitles or the conversations have been dubbed. As more and more videos are being produced there is a rise in demand for audiovisual translations so that films, documentaries and marketing videos can be shared with a global audience in an acceptable form. Audiovisual products are present in many places including:

  • mobile communications;
  • marketing videos;
  • plays;
  • TV shows;
  • video games;
  • websites;
  • films;
  • eLearning content;
  • advertisements.

The reason audiovisual products are so important today is that people respond far better to video and audio productions than text alone. A human brain is able to process images at least 6 to 600 times faster than it can text, and 90 per cent of information is transmitted visually to the brain. Overall, audiovisual content is mainly video, which has for some time been going through a period of boom. It is expected that by 2022 as much as 82 per cent of internet traffic will be controlled solely by video content. As this takes place and as YouTube experiences 30,000 hours of footage being uploaded onto its platform each hour of the day there is nothing stopping the growth in video content.


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    Video content isn’t just uploaded in one language but as an information and marketing tool, it is also translated into many languages. 

    What is an audiovisual translation?

    An audio-visual translation is a process used to transfer verbal parts of video or audio footage from one language to another.

    The methods used for translating audiovisual products

    Dubbing has become a popular choice for the translation of films in several European countries (see figure below. This involves adding a newly formed voice track into production in an additional language.


    Dubbing needs a dialogue writer who makes sure that the translation seems natural in the targeted language. Throughout the process of recording the dialogue, writer is available to check if the translation matches the lip movements of the on-screen actors.  


    Subtitles are another commonly used method for audiovisual translation. It reveals at the bottom of the screen a target language translation of the original dialogue. Written text used in newspapers is translated and shown in the subtitles. Subtitles can be created automatically by using speech-to-text technology.


    This is a technique often used for the translating and transcribing of lyrics or dialogue from theatre and opera productions. Surtitles are usually projected above the stage during a performance. If an audience doesn’t know the language being used or has a hearing impairment using subtitles may help them to follow a show more easily.


    These involve broadcasting the original soundtrack with the translation simultaneously.  When the production begins it is just the original soundtrack that can be heard. When the dialogue commences, the volume of the original is lowered so the audience is able to hear the translations. This method is most often used in news, documentaries and interviews.

    Overlaid voices

    With the use of overlaid voices, viewers can only hear a small amount of the speaker in the original language before and after when the translation can then be heard.

    Audio descriptions

    An audio description is a narration that is spoken throughout the quieter times in a TV or film show. An audio description offers extra information that would not be heard that easily. This includes a description of the location, facial expressions of characters and the type of scene. 


    Localisation is the adapting and translating of all parts of audiovisual content for a targeted market. Its aim is to offer consumers in the targeted market an appropriate cultural narrative and context.

    There are some countries that prefer to use a particular type of audio-visual translation. For example, the dubbing countries are typically French, Spanish German, and Italian-speaking countries both within Europe and outside. Most movies in these countries use dubbing. The subtitling countries, which have a high number of imported movies that require translations, are the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Greece, Portugal and Croatia. In Finland and Belgium, there are big communities that speak two languages so films are normally provided with double subtitles. Poland and Russia use voice-overs because they are less expensive than dubbing.


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