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

What You Need to Know for Screen Activity Capture Video Localization

Few learning tools are as effective as screen activity capture instructional videos. That’s why they’re everywhere – search for instructions on how to do anything in a software program or user interface, and odds are you’ll find a video on exactly that process. The demand for them has grown around the world as well, so that they’re now a fixture of multimedia localization. But these videos present some challenges to translation, often requiring customized solutions – and even single-language workflows.

This post will list the three things localization professionals must know before starting a screen activity capture video project.

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The challenges of localizing screen activity capture videos

The content itself usually consists of two elements: the video that “captures” what an instructor is doing on their computer, along with the instructor’s audio that narrates or explains their actions simultaneously. If you’re a software or app developer, or have created any kind of interface on the web, you may have someone internally who knows your program inside and out (like a product engineer), who is good at explaining how to use it, and who has a good voice – this is the perfect candidate for these videos. Or, you may have hired a subject matter expert (SME) to perform these tasks or processes, after a brief ramp-up with an early version of the software.

This video production process has two great advantages. First, the content produced replicates exactly what a user will see on their screen, including the way the software reacts to clicks, or how long some processes may take. Second, this type of production is relatively cost-effective and rapid. The voice-over audio is already synchronized to picture, so that post-production consists of cutting out flubs or missed takes, tightening the pace, cleaning the audio, and adding zooms and titles.

This unique production process also creates a few challenges for audio & video localization. Here’s what localization professionals must know.

1. You probably won’t be able to replicate the English production process exactly.

You probably don’t have an internal resource who speaks the languages you’re translating into. Or, you may not be able to find native-speaker SMEs, especially if you’re developing a new product. That means you won’t be able to create the localized videos in the same way you did the English.

So what do you do? Source four teams with different skills for full video localization. First, a team to capture all the elements of the English-language videos, including transcribing the audio. Second, a team to install your localized software, learn how execute the processes in the English source videos, and then capture these screen activities. Third, a team to record the localized voice-over instructions and produce finalized audio. And fourth, an editing team to do the final integration – cut the video, marry the audio, add zooms and effects, insert titles, and output the deliverables.


Needless to say, this is a more involved workflow than the one required to create the initial source videos. This is why it’s critical to hire a full-service multimedia house like JBI Studios, one who can take on all elements of the production, in all languages, and assign one project manager to oversee every step.

2. You must coordinate the localization process with your software or user interface release.

The above process assumes that you’ll localize the software or user interface itself, and well before creating the screen activity capture videos. But this isn’t always the case.

For example, you may find that most of your international user base understands enough English that interface translation isn’t necessary, but that you should still localize your instructional materials. If so, you can just do a standard video dubbing project, recording an off-screen narration to the English visuals. On the other hand, your team may be pushing for a full release of the localized user interface, at the same time as the instructional materials – requiring much closer timeline management and UI term glossary maintenance.

No matter the scenario, make sure to take interface translation into account when developing your localization timelines.

3. Editing turn-arounds will be longer when localizing videos.

As noted above, the localization process requires a more complex workflow with more vendors. Not only that, but remember that you’ll need pre-production – like script prep and translation – that you won’t need for the English-language videos. Ditto for post-production – you’ll need video QA done by a native speaker of the language, as well as a more involved on-screen titles replacement, especially if you’re localizing into non-Latin or right-to-left languages. In short, don’t assume you can use your English-language timeline as a basis for your localization schedules.

Plan localization before recording the English-language source videos

Finally, start planning your foreign-language production strategy before you record your English-language videos. This is a general best practice in multimedia and e-Learning localization, but it really pays off with screen activity capture and instructional videos. For starters, you can assess whether or not you have any foreign-language experts or SMEs available, which would change your production workflow dramatically. Likewise, knowing the user interface translation strategy in advance will help you plan for issues, especially if there’s a potential for changes after initial release. And finally, documenting your video creation will make the localization process much more accurate, and will streamline QA workflows. In short, this advanced prep will help you keep your budget low, avoid costly re-edits and pick-ups, and more importantly, ensure that your instructional videos release on time to your user base.

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Topics: Voice-over & Audio Dubbing Video Translation

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