What’s What in Media Localization, Part 1

We come across different terms when it comes to media localization. Or is it audiovisual translation? Is there any difference between the two?

Audiovisual translation is actually one of the many processes within the wider term of (media) localization.

Audiovisual translation (AVT) Media localization

AVT is the process of rendering the script for an audiovisual product that is in Language A into Language B.

The AVT mode or format (i.e. dubbing, subtitling, etc.) will constrain the translation in different ways.

Media localization refers to the set of processes and operations necessary to make an audiovisual product for target audience A in a country available for target audience B in another country.

This can entail the transcription of the original script; the translation of the script; the generation of subtitle files for each locale; the recording of the script by professional voice actors; the mixing of the audio files by sound engineers; altering visuals for cultural adaptation when necessary; sort out any legal requirements for specific countries; and so on.

Anything that is necessary to make the product locally suitable for the target audience.

Google terminology search

“Media localization” is a more recent concept than “audiovisual translation,” which has been used in academia for a few decades now. 

If we have a look at Google Trends, interest for “media localization” is concentrated in the US and is related to topics such as media and communication or globalization and internationalization. Poland is the country with more interest in “audiovisual translation” in Google and the related topics for this search are translation, subtitling, and university.

Media companies such as Netflix or Prime Video call it “localization,” which better reflects the complexity of rendering an audiovisual product available in multiple languages.

“Audiovisual translation” is a widespread term in academia and translation studies, while “media localization” or “localization” is more commonly used in industry circles since it goes beyond translation.

Do you agree? How are you using this terminology?

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