Joanna Tarasiewicz
June 29, 2023

How Much Does It Cost to Translate a Video? [Rates, Factors & Savings]

cost of video translation

Thinking about translating your website into different languages? Or, maybe you already have parts of it translated? But what about the videos on it?


Is video localization managed by the same language company that translates texts? How much does it cost to translate a video? What are video translation rates?


Here at ATL, we work with numerous clients who ask similar questions every week. The range of video translation cost may vary from $35 to several hundred thousand dollars for a video.


Too long to read? Short attention span? We've created a video summary of this article especially for you. Check it out below!




Estimating the cost of video translation services may seem complicated, so in this article, it will be explained how the following factors influence the price:


  1. Size of the video and number of words;
  2. Required language service;
  3. Languages involved;
  4. Additional fees.

Although these factors highly influence the final cost, you should know that when working with translation companies with a transparent pricing policy, the translation cost can be reduced even up to 36%.



1. How to Estimate the Cost of Video Translation?




cost of video translation (1)




Why is the cost of translating a video not always the same?


The Length of the Video


For localization purposes, the length of a video is measured in minutes. Each started minute is included in the total number of minutes.


The number of words said within a minute of speech varies between 100 and 150. At the average speaking rate of 130 words per one minute (wpm), a speech that lasts for 3 minutes will have about 390 words.


But there are various recordings, including storytelling commercials with fewer words, presentations or product descriptions when there are much more words said. There can also be reviews or interviews.


For this reason, we can talk about various video translation costs based on the number of minutes of recording.



Number of Words


The number of words is what influences the cost of the translation step. First, the recorded content is transcribed (manually or with the use of technology). Transcription is the act of writing down what one can hear in the video recording.


As soon as the content is provided in written format, the number of words can be calculated. For translation purposes, a word is defined as a string of letters or special characters.


The translation cost can be reduced up to 36% when working with professionals who apply a transparent pricing policy.


How is that possible?


The cost of translation can be reduced thanks to translation technology. And it's not about machines translating your content.


The translation software is called CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. There are many to choose from. Some of them are cloud-based, others provide desktop versions but there are also those offering both solutions.


All of the tools are very similar and serve the same main purpose - they accelerate the translation process and reduce localization cost.





cat tools





The basic feature of CAT tools is that they divide the original content into smaller pieces called segments. It can scan the document for repetitive segments.


If your content contains repetitive segments, CAT tools help to translate it faster by prompting how a repeating segment has been translated previously. This reduces the time and cost of translation.


On professional translation proposals, these words are referred to as Repetitions and are charged at a rate of even 75% less.


CAT tools can analyze the text and immediately prepare statistics showing the number of words within the repetitive segments. Single words repeated in the whole document are not included in the statistics as repetitions.



Translation Memory


Translation Memory (TM) is another cost-reducing feature of CAT tools. It is a database containing all the translated segments. Thanks to the TM it is possible to reuse already translated content.


If you've already been working on your website or other content translation, you should have the translations saved in your TM. It contains segments consisting of the original and the translated text. As a result, the more you translate, the cheaper it gets.


How is that?


For example, you assign your website for translation. There are 50,000 words. 0.3% of words are repetitions. You get a quote for 49,850 words paid at 100% and 150 words paid at 25% of the rate.


The translated content is saved in your TM.


After that, you assign videos for translation. There are 3,000 words. 1% of the text consists of repetitions but the transcribed content also contains pieces of previously translated segments. These segments will be recovered from your TM and paid less.







Related content: Translation Memory Used in Practice







Each of the TM match ranges receives a discount and hence the lower cost of translation.


It’s one of the reasons, but not the only one for centralizing the localization efforts. If one company can provide website translation, video translation, marketing campaign and software localization, you benefit from reusing your already translated segments or parts of it and paying less.



2. How Much Does Subtitling, Voice-Over and Dubbing Cost?


There are a few ways of localizing your video content. You can choose to leave the original language and record a lector reading the translated version or include translated captions.


You can also go for the most complex version and completely replace the soundtrack in one language with the recording in another language.


Whichever solution you want to choose, start from transcription.











Transcription means typing the audio text into a written format with timecodes. It needs to include timecodes. They are markers of time when the original piece of spoken text starts and ends. You can do it yourself, use automated speech recognition tools, ask somebody else to do it or leave it for the localization provider.


Unless you go for the automated option like Rev or Simon Says, what you pay for human transcription services is more or less $35 for a 15 - minutes video.


It depends on the speed of the speaker and how clear is the recording. Naturally, this is also based on the transcriber's speed of typing. If a random person performs this step it may take over an hour, if it's done by a professional, the time may be reduced to a half hour.


Important note!

You may be tempted to skip the transcription part and ask for translation to be done directly while listening to the recording.


It seems that by doing it this way you save money. You don't have to pay for transcription and going directly to translation sounds like paying less for the whole process. But this is one of the examples of how clients lose a lot of money while trying to cut the initial cost of preparation. In the long run, it turns out that the saved $35 disables you from saving more or less 50% of your future localization cost.


Skipping the transcription phase is faster but it also has two serious disadvantages:

  • You can't use previous translations saved in your Translation Memory for savings and consistency. Translating without the use of translation software deprives you of the discount for repetitions. Not using TM prohibits the translator from reusing the already translated content and reducing your translation cost.

  • You don't save the translated segments in your TM. Consequently, you won't use these translations to reduce the cost of future projects.


As soon as your video content is available in a written format, you are ready to move to the next, exciting stage of video localization.





Subtitling is one of the ways of translating your video into another language. Everything that is said in the video is translated and added to the video as captions. You've seen it many times, haven't you?


Here, it's worth to mention the difference between subtitles and closed captions (CCs). Closed captions provide text description of dialogue as well as all relevant parts of the video soundtrack. Subtitles focus only on the dialogues or narration.


You may already have your videos captioned in English in Final Cut Pro, Compressor or any other tool. Why not add other languages like Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Chinese to the list of available languages? The transcribed text now needs to be translated. It doesn’t matter if the format of your exported captions file is .srt (SubRip), .iTT (iTunes Timed Text), .scc (Scenarist) or .mcc (MacCaption), all of them can be localized.


The translation of transcripts is calculated per word. The rates vary per language. Some of the most expensive languages are Japanese, Norwegian, Dutch. You may pay less for Spanish, Chinese or French.







Related content: 15 Languages for Translation in 2020 That You Should Know About







Let's assume that in a 15 - minutes video there are 1,950 words. The rates vary from $0.18 to $0.25 per word. The translation cost in this case may vary between $351 and $487.5.


In most cases, the translated content is passed to the revision stage. The reviser examines the translated content against the original text and checks if the translation is correct.


Revision may be calculated per hour or per word. Usually, it is 50% of the translation rate. Therefore, this stage may cost from $175.5 to $243.75.


Finally, the translated text is added to the list of available subtitles in the video. The additional cost starts from $35.


Therefore, the estimated cost of 15-minutes of video translation choosing subtitling may be from $596.5 to $801.25.


An accurate quotation can only be made on the basis of your video.



Voice Over




voice over-1




This service is based on adding a lector reading the text of the video in another language. The voice of the lector is recorded over the original audio track, which can be heard in the background.


It is one person neutrally reading the whole text. It doesn't matter if several people are speaking in the original soundtrack, the localized version includes only one actor, who is reading the text.


The transcribed text is called the script. Inserting timecodes in the script is important because it marks the amount of time allowed for recording of the translated speech. Remembering about timecodes saves money spent on costly fixes, like shortening the translated text or re-recording.


Let's start with the translation. Various languages use different lengths of words and sentences to convey the same meaning. Therefore, it may happen that one phrase said in English will require more words and time to be said in another language like Spanish or Italian.


Thanks to the timecodes, the translation team is aware of the amount of time allowed for each spoken sentence in the video. Translators, who are experienced with translating for video localization, will juggle with words in order for your video to be well translated but also pleasant to listen to.


Timecodes are crucial also for the actors. It allows them to adjust the speed of speaking for the needs of your video.


The usual translation rate applies for general content like reviews, documentaries or videos that don't have heavy marketing content.


For texts that require a more creative approach, the service needed for the text to be translated into another language is transcreation. It is the most creative of all marketing translations. This is similar to copywriting and consequently, this service is more expensive.


Transcreation is usually paid per hour. You may consider it as 45% more expensive than regular translation. Transcreation is needed for funny or other highly emotional content.


Let's move to the cost of the lector.


You already have the content transcribed, timecodes are inserted in the script, the text is translated keeping in mind the amount of time allowed for each utterance, now it's time for the recording.


What you need is to choose what voice talent you need. Is it a male or female actor that you want in the localized version of your video? Do you need any particular voice, like for example, a deep, gravelly, male voice or high and livelier? This is all for you to choose, but this is what dictates the price.


The voices may be cheaper or more expensive. This is mainly due to their availability and, just like with Hollywood actors, it depends on their level of recognition. The regular prices should hover around $150-250 for 5 minutes of recording. But some top stars estimate the cost based on the whole project rather than the number of minutes.





Another way of putting translated text into your video is by using a dubbing service. Dubbing, unlike voice-over, is that the original speech is cut out and the translated version is mixed with original sound. Actors impersonate characters and express their emotions. It is the closest to acting and the most expensive service.


One of the terms associated with dubbing is lip sync. It is matching the speaking person's lip movements with spoken vocals.


This service is widely applied to videos for kids, who can't read captions and really enjoy their favorite characters speaking their language.








The cost of dubbing is mostly determined by your choice of the voice talent. But here the prices may go really high. It depends on how many stars you want to hire.


Every country has their own Katy Perry or Bruno Mars. But getting back to earth and leaving the stars, the actual dubbing starts from $100 per minute and more.


The recording you receive is mixed, no unnecessary sounds are present in the audio and the recording goes smoothly, synchronized with the lip movement of the actors.


From the technical point of view, we may also talk about dubbing as the replacement of the original voice with a voice in another language, which is also referred to as revoicing.







Related content: 5 Ways That Translation Companies Cause You to Overspend





3. Why Does Language Affect the Cost of Video Translation?

Why do different languages influence the price of video translation? Is it because some languages are more difficult to learn than others? No, the actual reason is the number of translators available as well as the region they live in.


It is the same for the voice talents.



Access to Translation Resources and Voice Talent



There are places where the pool of professional translators and/or lectors is smaller and therefore the rates for these services are higher. This is the case with Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, Finnish. 


Also, the services provided by professionals from countries with a high cost of living are likely to be more expensive. A good example may be Japanese, which can be charged on average $0.16 by a freelancer for only the translation step.



4. Are There Any Additional Fees?


There are several things you may be charged extra. You may wish to book the lector for a period of time in case of any additional recordings. You will be charged extra for that.


Unless you provide exact guidelines, you may wish to influence the way the translated speech has been recorded. You may direct it remotely or go to the studio. You can also listen to the ready recording and provide feedback. All the solutions will be added to the quote as an extra fee.


The additional charges may start from $50.



5. How to Calculate the Cost of Video Translation


In order to estimate the cost of your video translation, take into consideration all the following aspects:

  • How long is the video and how much talking does it involve?
  • Do you want to include a lector, dubbing or subtitles?
  • What languages do you want to translate into?
  • Do you have any additional requirements?

Do you want to learn more about how much your video translation will cost?

Feel free to contact us for your customized video localization quote.


Recommended articles:

5 Benefits You Get From Working With a Translation Agency

How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation