Go Global, Speak Local: Voiceover Localization for Global Content

Category: Multimedia

The basics of any voiceover localization project, be it an eLearning module for French-speaking Canada or a product demo for your Mexico market, can be broken down into three general categories: the voice, the script, and the recording process.

Finding Your Voice

Set the tone. Decide how the voice should sound in each language market. Where an American audience might respond well to happy hyperbole, a German one might be more swayed by a more factual, instructional tone.

Take an active role in the casting process. Work with your language vendor to create specific and meticulous character profiles for your voice: first name, age, gender, ethnic background and basic personality traits.

Make project-specific dialogue part of the audition. If your budget allows, get the voice talent to record samples from your script. Hearing them say the actual words is the best way to know if they’re right for the part.

Get the Words Right

Allow the script translators artistic license. Remember: it usually takes longer to say something in the target language than it does in English. But the amount of time you have to say it in doesn’t change. Ask the translators to convey the spirit of your content, rather than make a word-for-word translation. This makes it easier to sync the translated voiceover to the visual content, saving you time and money down the road.

Develop a pronunciation guide and have it on hand for the actual recording. Things like acronyms, proper nouns and product names can trip up the recording process. Knowing in advance that an acronym, for example, should be pronounced in English or in the target language will save time and trouble.

In the Studio

Be prepared come recording day. The more you know about the process in advance, the smoother the recording will go. Either you or someone from your agency should monitor the session, either in-person or via phone, to keep the recording aligned with your goals. And allow time for retakes; this is something you should negotiate in advance with your agency.

Figure out the right speaking speed. Work with the dialogue director to determine the right cadence for your content. A training module might call for a slow, deliberate pace, while a TV ad could go faster.

These are just a few of the things that you need to think about for your voiceover or multimedia localization project. For more tips, check out our Top 10 Tips for Voiceover Localization

Photo attribution: Miikka Skaffari