E-learning video localization

Each e-learning project I have managed is like a journey – with a distant destination, a choice of itineraries and unforeseen challenges. With experience, I have become a seasoned traveler and would like to share some tips with you. Localizing e-learning videos is a good place to start, and in this article we’ll focus on dubbing real-life actors.

Dubbing actors consists in inserting a translated audio track in place of the original one and synchronizing it with the movie.  Dubbing comes with lip-synchronization, which according to the Free Dictionary means “synchronizing the movements of a speaker’s lips with the sound of his speech”.  How do you ensure it goes unnoticed by the learner?

1. Provide your translator with time codes

In order to facilitate dubbing, I recommend you ask your translator to take the text length into account. The time codes, that mark when a distinct section of audio begins, are his guidelines. Together with the script for translation, they enable him to write target content that, when spoken, does not exceed the time needed for the source content. A voice talent, even a very talented one, cannot do a perfect recording with time constraints if the translated version is far longer than the source.

2. Prefer semi-lip-synchronization

You can choose movie-standard full lip-synchronization, which is the best in terms of realism and lip movement matching, but the high costs may not be justified for e-learning purposes. Professionals in the e-learning industry prefer semi lip-sync, which renders appropriate quality levels at the right cost. Here are some examples of semi-lip synch dubbing carried out by WhP for CrossKnowledge. Video 1 is in English, video 2 in Russian, video 3 in Korean:




3. Plan B, choose to sub-title

If you can’t find professional voice talents and studios that can do semi-lip-synch on your videos, it is wiser that you go with another way of localizing them, like subtitling. Your ultimate goal is that the learner stays fully concentrated – poor dubbing can be disturbing.

4. Match the language with the actor’s origins

Take a closer look at the third video embedded above. How do you feel about the Caucasian actor speaking Korean? If your budget allows for it, I recommend you shoot the scene again, this time with actors whose appearance corresponds to the language, and localize in the languages spoken in the same geographical zone. In the example below, the customer shot the scene  second time with Japanese actors and we localized in Chinese; video 1 is the French original version.


These four tips are essential, but not enough, for perfect for e-learning video dubbing. A flawless audio recording is another critical ingredient. I will go through the tricky aspects and the joys of audio recording in another journey :-).

¡Hasta pronto!