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Multilingual Voice Over

25th August 2020
Reading time 4 min
Multilingual Voice Over

Communicating your message effectively to target audiences in their language is crucial when it comes to video and ads. Using voice over talent local to the target region can help to evoke the desired reaction brands want from their viewers. Multilingual voice overs can also save on production costs since brands do not need to produce existing materials again, but simply recreate assets in the required languages.

Preparation The script should be scanned for any pitfalls at the beginning of the project. Problems can include difficult pronunciations, length, wordiness or general problems in how the script was written.

Recording Recording should be done in a professional studio with the script director and sound engineer present. The script director should be a native speaker of the language being recorded and directs the talent to give their best performance. Meanwhile, the sound engineer records the voice over to match the original video. Here the client should be present whether in person or virtually to approve the voice over on the spot. Changes needed at a later time mean rebooking the studio, sound engineer and actor and can be very costly. Background music and subtitles can also be added in perfect pacing with the action.

Delivery Once the voice over is completed and post-production work is implemented, a native speaker should review the final version to ensure that there are no mistakes. If there are no errors, the files are given to the client to distribute over applicable channels in their respective markets. If the video will live on YouTube, the descriptive copy should be SEO optimised, utilising the best keywords for searches in the target languages.

”It may seem obvious to employ native speakers of the target language, but occasionally marketers must be reminded of this fact.”

Recording the voice-over audio “training” sets

Recording professional foreign-language voice overs for corporate, eLearning, marketing or entertainment differs in many ways. However, some standards, such as verifying native accents, are the same. Here’s an in-depth look at the process.

1. Get native speakers – but also look at market segments. It may seem obvious to employ native speakers of the target language, but occasionally marketers must be reminded of this fact. For example, if a Japanese voice over is needed for a video, target audiences may not accept a non-native speaker with a jarring accent. If so, the voice over is rendered useless.

2. Get native accents – but look at demographics first. When recording the voice over, speaking patterns for the target market should also be considered. For example, a Spanish voice over for the Mexican market should have a voice talent from the country, instead of a Spaniard from Barcelona. The recording should represent the linguistic nuances as closely as possible, keeping in mind that the volume of people speaking with certain accents may be greater in some regions than others.

3. That said – look at non-native populations if they are demographically significant. In order to record the location’s variety of accents, non-native speakers may be needed to fill the absence of voice over talent. For example, Los Angeles has many non-native speakers, so employing non-native voice over talent in order to resonate in this particular region may be appropriate for the given video. Marketers must consider the accents of the specific location, the target audience and the objective for recording diverse accents.

4. Hire a fully native & bilingual director to oversee the casting. It is crucial to hire a director who natively speaks the target language, but is also fluent in the source language and can communicate with the client. A local director will be much more familiar with accents and dialects for the different regions of the target country.

5. Prepare for non-standard recording setups and requirements. It is crucial to understand the client’s requirements and objectives before hiring talent and recording. Details must be taken into consideration, such as linguistic variations, file formats and post-production work. Additionally, each location will have different elements to take into account, such as accent spread, the amount of non-native accents, amongst others. Proper preparation is always key to success, but when recording voice overs, going that extra mile during prep can ensure that the audio will be usable for the video in the end.

Added Benefits of Voice over Translation

Voice over translation makes sure that the translated texts flow with the pacing of the original master video. Post-production teams can clean up the audio, set the correct volume by adjusting high and low frequencies and implement other edits to create the best sound quality for the video.

The linguist and director should work together to make sure the voice over meets the tone of the original video. If the original video was made for outdoor gear, the director should choose a linguist who creates a tone and pacing that corresponds with the product.

Final Thoughts

Voice over translation is crucial in communicating with target audiences in local markets. In fact, depending on the source video, different styles of voices or other culturally relevant elements may be implemented. No matter the chosen technique, voice over communicates organically and is able to portray the mood, tone and spirit of the message in a way that subtitles and transcripts cannot.

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