JBI Studios' Blog on Voice-Over, Dubbing, and Multimedia Localization.

How to Get Running Times from Multiple Files for Video Localization

Accurate running times are critical to quoting video localization projects, whether dubbing or subtitling. But for larger suites of video files, this task can be daunting – and incredibly time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s a hack that lets you get running times from multiple video files quickly and accurately. If you’re a multimedia localization professional, this should save you time and headaches.

This post will provide a step-by-step for getting video running times from large suites of files.

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Large suites of files are a challenge to video localization

Yes, it’s easy to get the running time of a single video file for a dubbing or subtitling project – just open it up and read the total running time in the player. Likewise, TV shows and other entertainment localization projects generally have episodes with predictable running times. But getting this one localization metric is particularly difficult for content that contains large suites of short videos – like e-Learning courses, video games or websites.

How many videos are we talking about? A video game can have as many as 500 short interstitial scenes which last only 15-20 seconds. Same with the new generation of video-based e-Learning, which can have as many as 50 or 60 files per course. To make matters more difficult, game and course output file structures are often complex, with video files interspersed among various directories and subfolders. This is particularly true of websites, which generally have fewer video files  but more complex directories.

If the thought of going through every subfolder in a directory to get every single video’s running time sounds terrifying, this hack is for you.

1. Track down the video files.

First, you have to track down all the video files and isolate them. On a PC, go to the root of your file directory – the following screenshot is from a video-based e-Learning localization project.


Rather than look through each folder and subfolder for video assets, you can search by file type – in the following screenshot we’ve searched for MP4 videos by typing “.mp4” into the search field at top right.


Note that 39 items were found (highlighted in yellow).

2. Get the total running time of all the files.

Next, select all the files in your search results folder. You may see a Show more details... link at the bottom of the folder – if so, click on it. The folder will then display information on the files selected.


The Length field (highlighted yellow) contains the total running time of all the videos. Note also the Frame width and Frame height fields (green highlight) – this read-out means that the videos aren’t all the same aspect ratio, which can affect workflows, especially on subtitling localization.

For more information on aspect ratios, see our previous post, What are frame size and aspect ratio?

3. Repeat with all video file types if necessary.

Remember that multimedia localization often takes on legacy content with videos in multiple file formats, so repeat this process with all different types of video files. That includes M4V, MOV, WMV, FLV and F4V. You can get a separate running time by file type, or even copy all of your video files into a new folder for reference and quick access.

Quote preparation is critical for dubbing & subtitling projects

While total running times are essential, remember that they’re not the only information necessary for accurate pricing and turnaround times. For example, it’s also critical to get the number of talents needed for video voice-over projects. And likewise, video projects often require on-screen titles replacement – you’ll still have to go through the files one-by-one to get a text count, as well as source the original editing files for production.

Finally, remember that this hack isn’t bullet-proof. You may receive directories with corrupted files, or with audio-only files in formats usually reserved for video – this is done sometimes with MP4 files, for example. These sorts of issues will throw off your counts, so make sure your total running times make sense for the overall project. In short, proper metrics-gathering is still the key to preparing accurate quotes – and of course, ensuring that your video localization project stays on budget and delivers on time.

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Topics: Voice-over & Audio Dubbing Subtitles & Captions Video Translation

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