How to Plan E-learning Videos Localization: Timelines, Budgeting, and Critical Issues

Jan, 04, 2021
Senior Account Executive


  1. Getting ready for localization
  2. Pre-production checklist
    • Will the amount of text on the screen change?
    • Will the duration of voiceovers change?
    • See a storyboard of a video through the eyes of the foreign target audience
  3. Production checklist
    • Submit an updated script for translation
    • Make sure your translator is into it
    • Validate the translation before finally accepting it
    • Make sure the concept of voiceover recording works for your project
  4. Key Issues You May Face at the Video
    • You need to speed up the localization
    • You’ve got no source files
  5. Your Video Localization Budget
  6. Wrapping up

Video format makes educational materials comprehensive and accessible. Video localization, that is, translating video content into multiple languages, is the next step on this path.

If you manage an international educational institution, run an E-learning business, or your company has an overseas presence, turning your study materials into high-quality videos and then translating those videos into specific languages ​​is essential. But let’s face it, most localization projects fall behind schedule, feature lots of back-and-forths, and go over budget.

Blue Carrot has been de-stressing video production for E-learning for years, and one of our expertises is video localization. In this article, we share our experience and recommendations to help you avoid unnecessary risks and expenses during your next video localization.

Getting ready for localization: ‘pre-production’ and ‘production’ checklists

Carefully preparing for video localization will result in fast and flawless production, fewer revisions, and much less stress for your team. Such preparation may be divided into two blocks: pre-production and post-production.

Tip #1:

Planning is a key to a flawless E-learning video localization. Consider the language differences (VO and texts lengths) before starting.

Pre-production checklist

Will the amount of text on the screen change?

The average word length in different languages differs. While English and Chinese are pretty compact, French or Italian translations often appear wider than the original text. Compare the English word ‘views’ translated into Italian as ‘visualizzazioni’. 

If you already know which language you will be translating your video into and how the word length will change, inform the production team about it. In this case, they should consider text blocks size variations while working on your study video design.

Will the duration of voiceovers change?

Since text lengths differ, voiceovers also have different lengths. The motion designer should prepare longer versions of scenes for their further localization . Also, the production team may make transitions and other video components more versatile to simplify the localization task.

Tip #2:

There are several video editing hints to help you localize your video. First, a motion designer should not shorten the duration of compositions to the required minimum. Second, the loop effect should be added to animated elements.

See a storyboard of a video through the eyes of the foreign target audience 

If any messages or visuals may offend the religious, national, or other feelings of your audience, or be interpreted ambiguously, it is better to replace them with neutral ones.

To understand local perception specifics, use the World Value Survey’s Cultural Map as your cheat sheet. For liberal nations with self-expression values, highlight gender balance, racial diversity, and inclusion in general. For countries with traditionalistic societies, it would be better to appeal to family values and local customs (explore them through tourist websites). 

While preparing the script, it’s good to define which terms should remain in English and which ones should be translated. Decide on how to deal with terminology, colloquial speech, and slang.  

When it comes to localizing visuals, some symbols and pictures are universally understood: arrows, red crosses, or dollar signs. But sometimes this requires extra attention – i.e. appropriate colors, images, and gestures. For example, black and white are both colors of mourning in Japan.

Tip #3:

Think about potential localization when preparing your course design and messaging. The more you know about your audience, the less risk of being incomprehensible to them because of the cultural barrier.

Get your project estimation here!


Production checklist

Submit an updated script for translation

As a rule, scripts are modified at the video production stage. Such adjustments are often made on the fly without being added to the initial script. Compare your script to your final video and make updates if needed. 

Make sure your translator is into it 

We recommend finding a translator who is familiar with the topic of the course and is similar to your target audience in terms of age and values. We recommend you introduce them to the video localization process and inform them about the output format you expect. 

It is most convenient to work with a table in which each phrase is placed on a separate line, and the original presented in a parallel column. Also, the table should contain markers for each type of content (captions and voiceover). 

If localization will be done by an editor who doesn’t know the language (which is totally fine) it will be necessary to add time codes that correspond to a voiceover (after recording it). This may be done by the translator. In addition, you may separate the main voiceover file into smaller files and add their names (and links to them) to your table. 

As an alternative, the translator and editor may work together.

Validate the translation before finally accepting it

Make sure the translation file has a clear structure and may be used for localization. Again, consider the cultural background of your target audience. 

Check if the translation is accurate and correct. Ask the localization team to see if they can use this translation and if it fits into the video. Make adjustments if necessary. It is much easier to make edits at this stage than at later ones.

Make sure the concept of voiceover recording works for your project

Typically, educational videos contain the narrator’s speech. There are two concepts of voiceover recording: the speaker may record synchronized audio tracks on the top of the video, or the speaker records the audio track separately, and then an editor syncs it with the video. 

The first method makes sense only when the difference in voiceover is not sufficient and when the salary of the narrator is equal to the editor’s. The best workflow for the second method is the following: a speaker saves each phrase in a separate file and gives it a specific name that your team will understand.

Tip #4:

Freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and VoiceBunny help you find a speaker of the right type (gender, age, accent) who speaks a certain language, as well as check out their voice timbres. There you will also find reviews and hourly rates.

Get your project estimation here!


Key Problematic Issues You May Face at the Video Localization Stage and How to Deal with Them 

In an ideal world, video localization looks like this: the localization team has a structured set of elements for your video (including raw scenes), as well as a file with text translations and a collection of records for every phrase. In practice, this is rarely the case.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common problems you may encounter at the video localization stage and ideas of how you may solve them most effectively and easily.

— You need to speed up the localization

🤔 What does this mean? 

This requirement may be the result of unrealistic workflow planning within the customer’s organization or circumstances that cause the organization to need localized training videos as soon as possible.

😎 Resolving the issue

At Blue Carrot, we believe the most effective way to speed up video localization is to invite multiple teams to your project. Course videos may be shared among teams that work in tandem. This approach leads to higher localization quality and productivity, but requires more effort.

A second tip to save time (and money) is to leave the idea of audio tracks and captions optimization and opt for subtitles instead. You may use automatic subtitle generators or hire a freelance team to create subtitles manually. 

If you choose an outsourcing agency or freelancers with low hourly rates, the cost of their work might be low, so we recommend you hire an additional in-house editor or QA manager to check the quality of the subtitles. This idea applies to localization teams as well.

Another low-budget option is to try some AI-based tools for voiceover generation like Overdub by Descript

Tip #5:

Realistic localization planning is the key for you to meet your final product expectations. Before you assign a task to your localization team, get them into the scope of the work and ask them to estimate the project. A short test project will help you come up with an exact estimation. If you have strict deadlines, be ready to budget for overtime and multiple teams.

— You’ve got no source files

🤔 What does this mean? 

You submit only a final video file for localization without providing the team with some or all source files like background music, sound effects, or video file open for editing. 

😎 Resolving the issue

The main way to resolve the absence of ‘audio’ sources is to replace the old track with the new one. Unless you provide the team with separated sound effects and music, the new video simply won’t have any sounds other than the new speaker’s voice. If this option does not match your expectations, remake the music and other sounds, so a team will be able to insert it into the localized video.

The problem gets worse if the motion designer needs to replace the text on the screen and doesn’t have the original video file to edit. If the old text was placed on top of a plain element (for example, a solid background), the designer simply covers the old image with a new one of the same shape but with a new caption.

If the old text was not placed on a solid background, you need to either re-shoot (re-animate) the scene or restore the background pixel by pixel, and then overlay it with new text. Both options require significant resources. 

A simpler and less expensive option is to cover the image with a new solid shape. Unfortunately, sometimes such a scene may look poor.

Get your project estimation here!


Planning Your Video Localization Budget 

The working methods of different teams may differ slightly, so we recommend you always ask them for estimates based on your technical requirements or the basic task description. And if you would like to budget localization of your video courses by yourself, use the budget structure we provide below:

📌 Production (project management)

📌 Translation

📌 Voice recording

📌 Motion design (editing)

📌 QA management

📌 Illustration (if new design elements or visual approach is required)

The final localization cost is calculated based on video duration. Usually, your localization team checks your source files and technical requirements for the new video and sets the average dollar per minute (euro per minute) rate. 

Working on this project, we’ve been spending 2 hours 20 minutes per minute of localization. Localization of a training video of 10-15 minutes usually takes around 1-2 weeks. Videos of 100-200 minutes in duration have lower time-spend per minute.

The key factors that affect the final cost of your educational video localization are:

  • Length and number of videos in your course
  • Deadlines
  • Source files (audio and video files, text scripts)
  • Basic and target languages (VO and translation cost)
  • The amount of text on screen and duration of scenes
  • Additional requirements such as  visual improvements

Keep in mind that working with less widely-spoken languages ​​(for example, Norwegian) will cost 5 or even 10 times more than with English. The reason for this is that translators and speakers of that kind are in great demand and their number is limited. 

Wrapping up

Video localization is a task that frequently occurs in E-learning video productions. How may one get their educational videos localized with less budget and effort as well as avoid costly mistakes? 

The first rule is that you need to think about localization before the production of your basic E-learning video. Second rule: make sure you have all source files and updated script ready. Third rule: realistically plan the budget and timelines for localizing your video study course. 

Get in touch

Name missed
Email missed
Wrong E-mail format
Description missed
Rate Article

Let us turn your message into a story

Leave us a request and get a personalized offer based on your project description

Name missed
Email missed
Wrong E-mail format
Description missed

Thank you for your inquiry

We will reply withing 24 hours during the business week

Thank you for your inquiry

We will reply withing 24 hours during the business week