You’ve prepared a business presentation, an ad campaign, or a product video with voice-over in English and now you want to localize it to reach non-English-speaking audiences. You’ve identified your target audiences and languages. Now you need four things:

  • Script translation
  • Selection of voice talent
  • Actual voice recording
  • Delivery of the recorded files
  • Review of completed video

Voice-over Localization Step 1: Script Translation

First, you need to arrange for professional translation of your voice-over script through a language service provider (LSP). Preferably, this should be a partner, such as MTM LinguaSoft, that can see you through the whole voice-over localization process. The LSP will assign a project manager to oversee the project. She will match you with translators from the native culture who can get your message across properly in that language. This may even require some transcreation, especially in the case of marketing materials.

You should provide an English version of the script with time codes. If you cannot do this, the vendor should be able to arrange to get one, but at an additional charge. Time codes are important because in some languages text can expand by up to 50% in translation. The time codes can allow the translator or project manager to spot potential trouble spots, where the words may not fit in the time allotted, and try to find ways to condense the language without changing the message. And, of course, the time codes will be crucial when it comes time for recording.

While the translation is taking place, the next step can already be in process.

Voice-over Localization Step 2: Selection of Voice Talent

MTM LinguaSoft's Jennifer Horner reviews voice samples

MTM LinguaSoft’s Jennifer Horner reviews voice samples

Once the script for your voice-over project has been professionally translated, you will need to select foreign language voice talent to read and record the script. This process can be time consuming if you are planning to record in multiple languages and/or need more than one voice for each language. The voice-over partner you selected should have a pool of talent in the languages and localities you are targeting so that you will have a choice. After you provide them with specifications as to the type of voice (age, sex, personality, etc.) you are looking for, they should be able to provide you with some voice samples for you to choose from.

But, if the culture is one you are not familiar with, you may also want to get some advice on what kind of voice would resonate best with that audience before you give your specifications. In different cultures, the same types of voices may not evoke the same feelings of authority, warmth, persuasiveness, expertise, or whatever emotion it is you are trying to convey. Some cultures tend to communicate more formally, in some, informality is acceptable. To make it more difficult, with mass internet communication these preferences are in constant flux.

You may have trusted contacts in the target culture or cultures whom you can consult. If not, this is another thing that your voice-over partner, with contacts all over the world, should be able to advise you on.

Next: Voice-Over Recording and File Delivery