Outstanding vocal talent can lead to voice over translation success. Business and education translation services should always strive to knock out exceptional voice overs, regardless of the languages in question. This holds true when working on complex regional Spanish voice over assignments, getting into the nitty-gritty of Mandarin voice over materials, or piecing together Arabic audio content for a new mobile app. Here are 6 key criteria voice over translation services (and their clients) should focus on when vetting voice actors for multimedia translation projects.
1. Hire Native-Speaking Voice Talent
A nuanced approach is crucial when hiring native-speaking voice talent, as subtle differences in dialect and pronunciation can mess up the best-laid audio plans. Having access to native speakers able to demonstrate command over the subject matter (and appropriate dialect) is also a must when selecting voice over translation services for marketing or business translations that rely on audio content to get a message across.
For example, if you use a Mandarin voice over artist from Taiwan for a project in Northern China, the Taiwanese accent might put people off. Same goes for a native speaker of Argentine Spanish contracted for Spanish voice over work in Spain. Different accents and pronunciations might work for some projects, but for others, you could be courting disaster. Best to check in with your voice over translation service’s in-country specialists for guidance here. They can help you sort through these important, yet sometimes subtle (to the untrained ear) linguistic distinctions.
2. Budget Time for Casting
Finding the perfect match when it comes to vocal actors can take time. Casting for voice talent is a little akin to casting for Hollywood movies. There’s a submission process, and then potential candidates need to be screened, and perhaps called back for more audio tests. Quality voice actors might also have busy schedules, especially for languages that are in demand, or have smaller native-speaking populations. A competent localization service provider does not wait for the translation to be finished before starting the voice talent search. Budgeting enough time for casting can help ensure you land the vocal talent that best suits your multimedia translation project. If you rush this process too much, you might not be happy with the end results and may have to redo the work at a significant additional expense.
3. Create Source Content Read at a Manageable Pace
According to Steven Gurevitz, studio manager and multimedia voice over specialist, clients developing multilingual productions might want to plan ahead when creating their original source content. “Have the source speaker go at a pace that isn’t too fast,” Steve recommends. “Almost all languages will expand (even with the same word count) when going from English to another tongue.” If the original presenter is speaking at a rapid pace, problems can arise. A word for word translation might not work for the voice overs, or, as Steve points out, “the video might need to be stretched or slowed down” to accommodate the translated content, even as read by the most skilled vocal talent. The easiest solution here is to create audio source material that’s read at a manageable pace.
4. Pay Attention to Tone of Voice
Tone of voice, and the enthusiasm of the speaker, can convey different meanings depending on the global region you’re trying to reach. A wild and wacky approach adopted by your voice over translation service’s in-country experts might work wonders for business translations, or a multimedia marketing campaign in Japan (or not, depending on the topic). But in a country where a more somber approach is required — like Austria or Finland perhaps — that kind of over-the-top delivery might be a big flop.
The choice between a male or female vocal actor might convey a different tone to your intended audiences as well, depending on how a given society divvies upon gender roles (unfortunately gender equality hasn’t spread everywhere), even though that wasn’t your intention. Again, we advise that you and your voice over translation service consult with in-country specialists to get the local scoop on the right tonal approach when it comes to voice overs.
5. Memorize the Complete Script
Nassif Ephrem, localization and desktop publishing director, believes you can boost the quality and overall appeal of your voice over project by having your voice talent memorize the entire script ahead of time — or at least big chucks of it. “Memorize the script and make sure you’re not just reading it,” Nassif says. This simple step will make it seem like your voice actors are actually part of the client’s company, and are actually “selling the product.” The human ear is a sophisticated instrument. If it sounds like the voice over actors are merely reading from a script, and aren’t invested in the content they’re talking about, the targeted audience just might tune them out.
6. Work with Experienced Post-Production Audio Professionals
Regardless if you’re dealing with Spanish, Russian, Arabic or Mandarin voice overs, when building multimedia content with education translation services, or for a business translation’s audio components, make sure you work with post-production audio professionals and voice over translation services with long track records of success. From booking studios with quality mics and recording software, to allowing warmup time for vocal actors, or the opportunity for actors to memorize and get comfortable with a translated script (perhaps testing out different readings to establish the best tone for a project), you’ll come across a ton of places where the translation and recording process can go off the rails if not handled properly.
By working with veteran audio engineers and translation specialists who understand every step of the process, voice over translation services can pull the many technical and translation aspects of a voice over project together into a cohesive whole, creating a seamless multimedia experience that will get your company’s eLearning, marketing materials and brand out into the wider world.
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