Multilingual video workflows

How to make translating videos easier for journalists with basic video editing skills


At swissinfo we rely on two types of text on video:

  • Animated text: produced in Premiere Pro and After Effects and is edited on the video. Looks good but it’s more difficult to translate as it requires specific knowledge of the editing softwares and a lot of copy pasting.
  • Subtitle text: a time-coded text (.vtt format) that our video player combines with the video image. It’s easily translatable in a text editor by every journalist, but it looks ugly.

An interesting challenge would be to see if there are ways of producing animated text that has the easiness of translation of ‘subtitles’.

Challenge by Carlo Pisani and Céline Stegmüller, video journalists at SWI



Our #swihack pitch:


  • Is there a way to make translating text overlay as simple and time efficient as translating subtitles?
  • Having different language versions linked to the same master project works in Adobe After Effects but not in Premiere Pro.
  • Can we export the text layer from Premiere, translate it, and reimporte it?
  • Do we need to move to an online tool or can we ask Software developers to improve Premiere Pro?

What would we want from Adobe Premiere Pro?

  • Write our text directly in Premiere, then export it
  • Reimport it in another language
  • Be able to work with a different alphabet from one same file, without the entire project having to be in a given language from the beginning to the end (ie, enable translation from and into Arabic)

Right now, the closest we can get to a subtitle-type workflow is burning subtitles into a video, but without any animation (simple subtitle).

Check this out:

Solution suggested by Benoît (SwissTXT):

  • the video is edited in Premiere, a cleanfeed is exported as well as an .srt file
  • cleanfeed and .srt are imported into Subtitle Editor, which allows editors to adjust text position etc
  • a .ttml file is exported, which includes position information
  • the journalists translate this .ttml file, which can be reimported into Subtitle Editor and adjusted if needed, then a final .ttml file is exported
  • this file is converted into SSA, which can apply different profiles to the text (color, font, animation)
  • the .ssa file and the cleanfeed are imported into Hand Brake for transcoding (the text is burnt in)

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Multilingual Media