In our last post we introduced the first steps in the process of voice-over translation and recording. This week we complete our description of the process, talking about the actual recording, delivery of the completed files, and review of the completed project with the voice-over in place.

Voice-over Localization Step 3: Voice Recording

microphone on mixing boardOnce you’ve picked your voice talent, we move to the part that most people think of first—the actual recording. Here quality and timing are important.

A quality recording requires high quality recording equipment—microphones, headphones, recording and editing software—and isolation to block out any unwanted noise. Receiving sample voice recordings at the beginning can help reassure you on this score.

The voice artist also has to be sure to fit the recording to the time codes on the script. As noted above, this can be a challenge when there is text expansion in translation. Even where the translator and project manager have attempted to adapt the text to deal with such problems, there may still be difficulties, and the voice artist will have to speak at the proper rate of speed to fit the text, attempt some more adaptation herself, or ask for modifications to the script.

Actual voice recording usually takes much longer than the length of the final recording. The voice artist records and re-records until both she and the engineer are satisfied with the tone, flow, and cadence of every part of the recording and have verified that all the timing is correct.

Voice-over Localization Step 4: Delivery of the Recorded Files

As the client, you will need to specify what format you want the files delivered in as well as any other special technical specifications you may need. You should discuss this with whoever created the original presentation or video and will be laying in the new voice-over. The most common format today is MP3. This is a compressed format and does involve some loss of information, but it is usable for most purposes.

Your voice-over partner should retain uncompressed files (usually WAV, but also AIFF, or SDII) in case further engineering is needed. Changes to the files should be made on the uncompressed rather than on the compressed versions to retain as much clarity as possible. Modifications affecting things like volume, speed and pitch of the recording or parts of it can be made without having to go back to the voice artist for re-recording. Certain effects can also be applied and edits can be made.

The files can then be returned to your desired format and delivered to you.

Voice-over Localization Step 5: Review of the Finished Product

Once the foreign language voice-over has been laid over the presentation or video, the final product should be reviewed by someone who knows the language to be sure that everything is in sync. Your language service partner can also help you here.


Localization of voice-overs is not a simple or cheap process, but if you work with a partner who can guide you through the whole process, it need not be too overwhelming. Of course, in this article, we haven’t even talked about other changes that you may wish to make to your presentation, like changes to text in the video, the addition of subtitles, or the substitution of new images for ones that might not be culturally appropriate for every locality. To make the greatest impact, you will want to work on the whole package and get it right.