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Multimedia Localization: Best Practices for Global Growth

Multimedia localization is about adapting audio and video content to a specific cultural context, ensuring that your multimedia content resonates with your target audience and retains its meaning, even after localization. 

Localization of multimedia content is more than just translation: it involves considering the traditions, customs, and other cultural facets of the target audience.

Which Multimedia Localization Solution to Choose?

Localizing multimedia products is more than just translating information from one language into another. It involves adapting the content to the target culture, taking slang, customs, traditions, and much more into account. Depending on your type of content, there are many different professional multimedia localization services available. 

Below you’ll find a short overview of the most popular types of multimedia content that require localization and specific solutions that can be applied to get that content ready to go global. 

  • With promotional and explanatory videos, you have nearly the full range of localization solutions at your disposal. The fastest and cheapest option is subtitling. Alternatively, you can order dubbing or revoicing: this way your video will literally speak a new language. Last but not least, you can completely localize your videos: this includes translation of in-frame text, such as taglines, calls to action, etc. 
  • With training or software tutorial videos you can do even more. This kind of multimedia content, especially software training videos, often features product screenshots, with the digital product interface displayed on the screen. To properly localize videos of this kind, you may want to recapture product screenshots using the corresponding language version of the UI. That way you’ll show the product in action clearly and accurately.
  • When adapting a mobile or video game for foreign players, localizing UI strings may be not enough. If the game characters speak, consider localizing the voiceover, as well. Although embedded subtitles is one possible solution, a distinctive, well-spoken game voiceover in the target language will make the experience as immersive for foreign users as it is for speakers of the source language. 
  • Apps and software sometimes have audio content too, such as spoken notifications or instructions that help new users take their first steps within the product. The best localization solution here is to re-record the audio messages in the target language. The same goes for content such as IVR systems or answering machines.

It goes without saying that some solutions simply won’t work for certain products requiring multimedia localization. For example, if you need to localize the voice assistant for a mobile app, subtitles aren't going to be much help!

To help you easily navigate the options for multimedia localization, check out the service types listed below.

Multimedia Content Localization: The Three Service Types

In general terms, multimedia content localization can be divided into three main categories: 

  1. Full video localization: this multi-step solution consists of transcribing and translating the voiceover text, recording voiceover in the new language and adjusting the duration, additional audio mixing, and, if there’s written text in the frame, localizing and replacing it in the video sequence. 
  2. Voiceover localization: this solution is applicable to either video or audio content. When it comes to video, however, be aware that voiceover localization deals with the audio sequence only. This means that if there’s any written text in the frame, it will remain in the original language when this solution is employed.
  3. Subtitling: a tried and true method of conveying the idea of the spoken text in written form. Subtitles are synchronized to the pace of the original speech, and they can be either embedded in the video sequence or added as a separate file.

So what type of service should you select, you may ask? To answer you properly we need to obtain a holistic vision of your project. The holistic approach helps not simply to deliver a translated version of the content, but to do so in keeping with the objectives you want to achieve through multimedia content localization, and with consideration for your deadlines and budget.

Multimedia translation can help businesses erase boundaries and expand to any region of the planet. And it’s no surprise that demand for audio and visual localization has skyrocketed since the COVID pandemic, when many businesses had to move online. Here, reaching international customers under such difficult circumstances was more than a development move for businesses: it was a lifeline.

How to Сhoose Your Multimedia Localization Partner

When choosing the right multimedia localization partner, it is essential to have a holistic view of your project, taking your objectives, deadlines, and budget into account. To find the best multimedia localization providers, consider the following: 

  • How many languages does your potential service provider support? Sure, you’ll start by checking for the particular language you’re interested in right now. But consider this: in a few months you could end up needing more languages, and it would be nice if you could continue localizing with the same company, without changing horses midstream.
  • Does the company work with native speakers? Simply knowing a foreign language isn’t enough. You need a native speaker who understands your target audience's cultural context and can properly adapt your product to their particular market. If your product requires audio localization, double-check that not only the translators and editors, but also the voiceover artists are native speakers.
  • Does the service provider have sufficient experience specifically in multimedia localization? As this type of localization may require a specialized workflow, you'll probably want to entrust your audiovisual content to experts at handling such projects, who won’t churn out a half-baked solution in response to your request.

In addition to these three things, you'll want to pay attention to the following aspects in order to select the most suitable multimedia localization vendor for your content.

1) Experience in your industry

Extensive experience in localization for your specific content niche is a good sign. If you need to translate a video game or a humorous cartoon, a company that specializes solely in business content localization may not be the best fit for your project. Don’t hesitate to explore the company’s profile or even send a direct inquiry regarding the industries where the localization company has proven its expertise.

2) Project Flow

Be curious: ask how the multimedia localization process would go for your particular project. What steps does the process consist of, and how much time should each stage take? Does the company offer a single universal process for localizing all content, or is the process tailored to each specific project? Can they localize into multiple languages at once to optimize the timeline? You're the one paying for multimedia localization, so all your questions deserve comprehensive, easy-to-understand answers from your potential service provider.

3) Reviews & Testimonials

We check restaurant reviews before dining out to make sure we’ll have a truly enjoyable experience. We read reviews on electronics to ensure that we get the best value for the money. Why should multimedia localization services be any exception? A good company will not only post testimonials on its website to show how many clients they have helped: they will also have a variety of reviews on independent websites like Google, TrustPilot, Clutch, and G2. To make sure the testimonials are trustworthy, try researching the companies or people cited by the localization service provider.

4) Examples of Completed Projects

Nothing is more revealing than the job done. A company that has been in business for a while is proud to showcase its past work! A localization company's portfolio will help you to form your own opinion as to what kind of quality you can expect from them if you become their customer. Browse the company’s YouTube or Vimeo channel for video localization, or scroll through SoundCloud playlists to check out samples of audio localization. Try comparing multiple language versions of the same content to get a sense of the scope of the work conducted.

5) Overall communication

Does the service provider's representative respond to your inquiries promptly? Do you feel comfortable when communicating with the account and project managers? Are their responses easy to grasp? Chances are, you work in a business niche other than localization, and maybe you're encountering multimedia localization challenges for the first time. Are the specialists you communicate with aware of this? It's respectful if they keep professional jargon to a minimum, saving you the hassle of decoding their messages.

5 Tips for Multimedia Localization

Although cultural adaptation rests entirely on the service provider's shoulders, that doesn't mean that you can't influence the final result. Here's how you can contribute to successful multimedia localization:

1) Provide the video source project and raw footage

In video localization, the duration of the video sequence may need to be adjusted for the localized version. That's because the video must correspond to the voiceover in the new language, which usually takes a bit longer than the original. This is where the video source project comes into play. Having the source project makes it possible to alter the duration of the video sequence without loss of quality. On top of that, it's much faster to replace written texts with their localized versions within the source project, rather than a final video file that is uneditable. The source project is a valuable asset that helps you obtain high-quality localization as quickly as possible. But if you don't have it, not to worry. We at Alconost know how to help customers with video localization even when no source project is provided.

2) Come up with a list of key terms and abbreviations 

Regardless of the niche you work in, you may have special requirements for localization of specific terms. Make a list of the specific vocabulary terms your multimedia content features, and elaborate on the exact rules you wish translators to follow when handling them. For example, mark names or titles that need to be preserved in the original language. Or, if your multimedia includes voiceover, indicate how to pronounce character names or brand names—whether the same way as in the original audio or in the local manner. If you can’t be bothered with such mundane tasks, the Alconost team will give you a hand.

3) First finalize, then localize

It's rather stressful when you realize that the multimedia sent out for localization wasn't the final version, isn’t it? To be on the safe side, double-check that you are using the most recent and approved edition of your content before submitting it to the multimedia localization agency. Nobody is perfect, however, and you have the right to be wrong. In our experience, if the client encounters a need to tweak something in the content of an already launched project, in most cases this can be managed, and it's definitely not the end of the world.

4) Give your deadline a reality check

The larger the multimedia project, the more resources its localization requires. Before scheduling your product launch abroad, check in with your localization management team on a realistic time frame for completing the multimedia localization. The downside of a tight deadline is that you may have to choose the fastest option, which isn’t always the most suitable one for your goals. If you’re in a hurry, consider localizing your multimedia into several languages simultaneously: here at Alconost, at least, this isn’t as complicated as one might think.

5) Put it all together

When localizing a video, it may be necessary to translate taglines or other texts visible in the frame, even if at first it seemed that all you needed was audio localization. When localizing a voice assistant, along with the main dialog phrases, you may find that you also need to record a greeting, a farewell, and a request to evaluate the quality of service. When localizing the speech of game characters, you may need to record voiceover not only for the dialogue strings, but also sounds such as screams, exclamations, groans, etc. Make sure all these little things aren't overlooked at the localization preparation stage. Or ask your localization provider to point out anything that may have been forgotten. After all, why not pick the brains of the team you hired for multimedia localization? That's what they're there for!


Multimedia localization is a crucial step in expanding your business globally. Choose the right multimedia localization partner, and consider the type of content and services you need, to ensure that your multimedia content is tailored to your target audience and retains its meaning. 

Alconost has been in the localization business for nearly 20 years, offering a comprehensive and tailored approach to any multimedia content localization project, regardless of the language or complexity. With over 600 native-speaking translators, editors, and voiceover artists, Alconost helps businesses to convey exactly what they intend to, and to ensure a consistent tone of voice among its customers worldwide.


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