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Tom, our 16-year-old Eton College work experience student, is a multilingual maester. Here he tells how to create localised animation for the European market.



Here at Salamandra.uk, when making animated videos for our clients, their international needs and outreach must be factored into our creations. Localisation is essential to ensure the videos can relate and be relevant to the regions of the world and their varying cultures.

When creating the promotional videos for Milwaukee® Packout™ we had to factor in that the video would be reaching out to audiences across EMEA. Naturally, this meant that localisation alterations had to be made to the American and European Markets. The Milwaukee product colour for the American market is red, however this couldn’t be repeated for Europe due to competitor reasons. The animated video had to be changed so that the product was black. This type of localisation was crucial for legal reasons and shows that localisation is not always used for entertainment purposes.



Animation is a vast industry that spreads to all corners of the earth. By 2020, it is projected to amount to $270 billion. This colossal industry dominated by few countries owes its success to diligent localisation strategy. It makes it possible for content created anywhere to be available and desirable for all stages.


European market overview

The global animation industry is dominated by America. Between 2010-2014 the top 20 animated films by admission were all American made. Only Japan beat America in the volume of animated films within the same time bracket. Despite the industry not being significantly prevalent in European creators, the market offers plenty of opportunity for foreign companies. Although America shares the same language with the UK and content won’t have to be extensively localised if, at all, the culture between America and the rest of Europe does differ naturally. Countries such as France and Germany vary in their cultural values and this is reflected in their popular viewing content.


How does localisation into the European market compare to the methods used with China?

The methods used to localise content into the European market is more or less exactly the same as mentioned in part 1 with China. However, some differences clearly stand out: the languages of Europe use the Roman alphabet whereas China and Japan use pictographic language. This means that when translating, it can be easily mistranslated or misinterpreted, so content is best viewed in the language it was written. This is why it is important to rethink or rewrite the content with the new country or region in mind to ensure that the viewer gains the best possible experience. Another key difference remains: the policies of restriction in Europe are more lenient.

The popular animated film Garfield (2004) was localised for Lithuanian audiences. In the film, the dish lasagne, the favourite of the protagonist had to be changed to a popular Lithuanian dish ‘Kugelis’. This seems like a relatively minor and almost too specific alteration, however, lasagne is a dish rarely eaten in Lithuania. If this detail had been left out the Lithuanian audience would have noticed immediately that it was a foreign film.



Ice Age (2002) attracted a large audience in Germany thanks to a successful localisation strategy. One of the roles in the film was cast so that a well-known German comedian would play it. This meant that the humour was changed from American style to German. Changes such as these are not only important to the film’s reception but also to the marketing and promotion campaigns. The Ice Age promotion campaign in Germany was led by the German comedian Otto Waalkes who had played the role; with a familiar face, the German audience would naturally be drawn. The film grossed $34.5 million in Germany accounting for 30% of the worldwide figure.

It could be thought that localisation of American content into Europe would be a relatively trivial task, but animation studios must try to localise content as much as possible to utilise the potential the animated content offers.



The two markets mentioned (in part 1 and part 2 of this article) show that localisation must be done to make content profitable and ensure that companies gain a reputation across the global market. Localisation can be difficult and expensive but without it, animation companies big or small shut themselves out of colossal financial opportunity.


How to localise animation, part 1: China