Making videos in a different language - What I have learned so far!

Not every video I make is in English. However the only language I speak is English. I don't see this as a problem at all, but more of a fun challenge.

While I've had the pleasure of making videos in different languages, I must admit is isn't always easy and it did come with a learning curve. 

If you have to do the same for any projects then hopefully these tips will help you.

Before shooting

Use English until the last minute

The first tip is kind of obvious, but I think it's worth mentioning. Whether you are working with people inside or outside of your office, try to stick to your first language throughout the script writing process. It'll help you a lot down the line as you will get a grasp of what is being said at all times.

Then just before shooting, get them to translate to the selected language.

Be prepared

Make a copy of the script for yourself with both the English and the other language side by side. This way, you can easily follow along during the next part.

 English and German versions of the same script

English and German versions of the same script


Trust their speed of delivery

I made this mistake during my first recording of a non-english video. I encouraged the presenter to slow down what they were saying (as I am so used to doing this with English speaking talent).

As the video was in Spanish, the resulting footage was basically unusable as the presenter came across uncertain and uninspiring to a Spanish audience. My advice: Record a section of the script and let the on-screen talent see it so they can ensure their pacing is perfect.

Let the talent see everything before you finish

To elaborate on the previous point, you shouldn't put the camera away until the presenter has watched all the footage. In a different language, it was really hard for me to tell if they were making mistakes. I just had to trust them that they were delivering it properly.

Edit as you go along

Get the presenter to do the line a few times and then ask them (on camera) which take they preferred. This will come in handy when you are editing as you already know which take to use. They will definitely know better than you.

Ask questions

It's hard to be sure that everything is going well when someone is speaking in a language different from your own. Keep asking them if they are happy with what you have covered so far. This will encourage them to open up for any re-takes and make their performance even better.

Post production

Google Translate

I like to keep a Google Translate version of the script open on a second monitor as I edit a video. I find it the easiest way to see at a glance what is being said.

Don't rely on translations

If you weren't fortunate enough to begin your script in English, don't rely on Google Translate to do a good job. If you have lower thirds, title screens or bullet lists, get your presenter (or someone in their team) to accurately translate these items for you.

Let them see early drafts

Don't polish your edit and then send it for approval. Chances are that you might have gotten something wrong in the edit; a word chopped out, a bad take. Let them see it early and see it often. This way you can steer your final video into perfection before you are done with it.

Example in the wild

Here is an example of a video that I have made in 3 languages. English, Spanish and German:




Have you shot any videos in multiple languages that you don't speak? Have any tips to share? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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