Translation in the audiovisual industry

When we think of audiovisual translation, what probably springs to mind is memories of our favourite shows or films, especially our favourite prime-time viewing choices from over the years. But video format is gaining traction in the business field too, and not just for advertising, but also for corporate presentation videos and agile formats for social media, where viral content is becoming increasingly visual. How can you translate an advertising spot, a video tutorial or a clip for Instagram to achieve the same impact in a different language?

The first thing that usually comes to mind when we talk about audiovisual translation is dubbing or subtitling, however, this type of translation extends to other audiovisual products too. Some of the applications highlighted by the Spanish Association of Audiovisual Translation and Adaptation (ATRAE) are as follows:

  • Translation of scripts, audio guides, e-learning courses and video games
  • Translation of subtitles
  • Subtitling for the hearing impaired
  • Audio description for the visually impaired
  • Transcription of documentaries, films, series and video promos

This is a variation that straddles the fields of translation and interpreting and has certain particularities that make it very specific. Let's take a look, through the two most commonly known strands, at why this type of translation can contribute so much value to your corporate videos:


The art of subtitling is not easy. As with all the other subtypes of audiovisual translation, the translator must have access to the audiovisual material itself, not just the transcript. With this material, they can refine their translation with the additional nuances brought by the tone of voice, the cadence, volume, etc.

The images give the translator the framework to better create the subtitles, taking into account the frames and the speed of the sequence, since they must be sure that the viewer has enough time to read the subtitles. Furthermore, the translator can prioritise and choose shorter synonyms wherever possible, since the subtitles should be helpful, not bothersome, for the viewer.

We must also bear in mind that adding subtitles to your corporate videos won't just help you to reach a broader audience through shares on social media, but that you can also improve the positioning of your audiovisual material by uploading them to YouTube, since subtitles are also indexed.

Translating scripts

The translator is the first person to work on a script that will then go to production, direction and finally to the dubbing actors or announcers who will provide the voiceover for your corporate video. In corporate material, voiceovers are very common, since it's not common for filming to be done with direct audio. Since you're going to use a script for the voiceover in your own language, why not get it translated into other languages too?

As well as taking into account the accuracy of the text itself, we need to make sure that the length of the sentences in all the languages matches up with the on-screen action, with a similar rhythm, so that everything syncs up.

In the case of advertising spots, the hardest thing is probably ensuring that none of the cultural references are lost so that the ad maintains the same impact. The visual elements are often more important in the case of advertising, but if the language used includes puns or word games and these are important for the communication impact, it may be more advisable to choose a transcreation service instead.

In any event, whatever the nature of the audiovisual material you need to translate for your business to attain a more international reach, it is important that you entrust it to the professionals. At AT Language Solutions we have worked on a multitude of audiovisual translation projects, and we are also experts in advertising transcreation services. If you have audiovisual translation needs, don't hesitate to contact us.