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Video Translation: How Much Does It Cost?

By: Ahtisham Khilji Posted on Thu, 09-02-2023

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In this day and age, users love to consume video content. Statistics show that almost 90% of all internet users in the world watch online videos each week. And a typical user watches these digital videos for at least 100 minutes every day.

As a businessman, you can easily spot an opportunity here. An opportunity to translate your online videos and reach millions of consumers who prefer to watch videos in their native languages.

But how much does it cost? What are the average rates for video translation services? These are some of the questions that our clients frequently ask us. If you’ve also got similar questions in mind, you’re in luck. In this write-up, we’re going to talk about just that. At the end of this article, you should get a good idea of what factors primarily dictate the total cost of your video translation project.

1) The Cost Depends on The Video Translation Solution You Opt For

There are a number of ways possible to translate and localize your video content. For example, you have the option to include subtitling, voice-over, dubbing, or any combination of these services, such as subtitling and voice-over.  The final cost will depend on what service you choose.

Here’s to what each of these services means.

Video Transcription

Transcription is the act of transcribing the spoken dialogue in your videos i.e. converting it into the form of a written text while including timestamps. The timestamps are very vital and they indicate when the original spoken dialogue starts and ends. 

Now when it comes to transcribing and timestamping your video, there are again various ways to do it. For instance, you can use automatic voice recognition technology or handle it by yourself. Similarly, you can ask your video localization agency provider to do it. 

If you employ an automated tool for the job, it’s always good to just double-check the accuracy of the transcript. This is especially essential if your video contains significant background noise, the voice is not clear, or there are multiple speakers in it. 

Human transcription generally cost between $0.90-2.50 per audio minute. However, the actual cost depends on how long and clear the recording is and how fast the speaker is speaking. The transcriber’s typing speed can also be a factor in this process. Because a random person may take more than an hour to complete this phase while this time can come down to a half hour if a professional handles it.

Important note: 

Whatever video localization solution you choose, don’t skip the transcription part. Think of it as an initial step that prepares you for the video localization stage. 

Video Subtitling

People often associate subtitling with foreign films and television programs but it’s also common in documentaries, online training courses, e-learning materials, social media, YouTube, and advertising videos

Video subtitling provides you with a good option to translate your videos for people who don’t understand your language. In this service, the entire spoken dialogue is translated and added as captions to the video. To select subtitles, the users will select the same CC icon used to turn on the captions. 

Here, it’s crucial to mention that subtitles and closed captions are not the same. They differ from one another in definition and purpose. Closed captions are intended to provide text descriptions to viewers who can’t hear audio. While subtitles focus on providing narration for people who can hear but don’t share the same language.

The cost of a video subtitling service can generally range from $0.18-0.25 per word. But, these rates can vary based on the language. For example, there are certain languages like Japanese, Dutch, and Norwegian which have high prices in the industry. Similarly, there are languages like Chinese, French, and Spanish which are usually less expensive.


Voice-over service adds the voice of a lector over the original audio recording. The role of the lector is to read the video’s text in another language that the target audience can understand. The original audio track is often audible in the background but at a lower level. Even if there are several voices in the original audio, the localized version will only include one voice-over artist who will be reading the whole material. 

If you want to make use of voice-over translation, be sure to pick the right vocal talent. The right voice is what can make or break the impact of your advert, corporate training video, or e-learning course. Consider whether you need a male or female actor to localize your video. Regional accents, tones, and delivery play a great role in creating a desirable local video. 

Similarly, other factors that you need to consider include the popularity of the language or the voice-over artist. Ask yourself whether you require a specific voice for your project. Such as a deep, gravelly voice from a male actor or a high, lively female voice. If you’re working with a translation partner, you can ask them to give you some voice-over demos. This will help choose the best style for your video content. All these factors are important in determining the final cost of your project. If we talk about the average industry estimates, these are between $150 to $250 for a 5-minute audio recording.


Dubbing is another great service to incorporate translation into your video. Unlike voice-over, dubbing completely replaces the original audio with a translated version of it. 

Dubbing is the most skillful and expensive service in terms of video translation. It requires the actors to impersonate characters by matching their gestures, postures, lip flaps, and emotions.  This service has popular usage in kids’ videos. Since kids can’t read captions, they want their favorite characters to speak their native language. Hence, dubbing is used to provide them with a pleasant experience.

Similar to voice-over service, the cost of dubbing is also mainly dependent on the type of vocal talent you hire. If you select a popular TV star or a radio presenter from the target country, then you should expect the dubbing cost to be higher. The average dubbing cost can start from anywhere between $75-100 per minute or even more. 

2) Other Cost Drivers for Video Translation

Video length and number of words

The longer the video script, the higher the cost of the video translation. But how is video length measured? In minutes. Even a minute started will also count toward the total video minutes.

The length of a one-minute speech is generally between 100 and 170. If we consider the average speaking rate, it describes 130 words per minute. That said, if your video is 3 minutes long, you will have about a 390-word script. 

But recordings are of various types. For example, a storytelling commercial will have fewer words. If it’s a product description or a presentation, there could be many more words uttered. Therefore, the cost of video translation will vary based on the number of minutes each recording has. 

Language pairs

Different languages will have different prices. It’s mainly due to the number of translation resources and vocal artists available for each language combination. Plus, which region those resources live in will affect the overall pricing.  

For instance, if you’re working with some rare language combinations such as Finish and Cajun. Then the availability of language professionals in this pair could be less, therefore the rates will be high. But if your project involves English-to-Spanish translation, it will be much easier to source the required professionals, and costs will also be lesser. Similarly, if you hire professionals from a country where the cost of living is pretty high, such as Japan, then you will be charged higher. 

Industry type

Some video translations require specialists in that area. A documentary on architecture or a tutorial on sketching and rendering will necessitate a subject-matter expert who has knowledge about these subjects. Therefore, if your content demands translators with specialized knowledge, then the costs will be higher. 

To sum it up

There you have it. Mentioned above are some of the factors that greatly influence the total cost of your video translation project. So, if you’ve to get an estimate of the video translation's cost, you will have to find answers to the following questions:

Do you already have a script for your video? Or is there any need to consider a human transcription service?
What localization solution do you require? Is it voice-over, subtitling, dubbing, or a combination of these services?
What’s the length of your video? How many words does your script contain?
What language combinations do you want to translate your video content into?
What’s your industry type? Do you require any specialist translator?

At Mars Translation, we understand that video is your most powerful marketing asset. We can help you translate it into as many languages (and dialects) as your target audience speaks.

From online and e-learning videos to YouTube and social media video translation, we will provide the video translation solution you need to reach an international customer base. Get in touch with us and we’ll send you an instant quote about your project requirements.