5 Best Practices for Foreign Language Voiceover Projects

Being aware of these potential pitfalls can help make your next foreign language project a success

Worried about creating a version of your video production in another language? It’s a common concern—most people walk into their first foreign language voiceover feeling pretty clueless. While foreign languages can be daunting and, well, downright foreign, you don’t have to come into the project feeling like you just stepped off a spaceship and onto the surface of Mars. With a little insight and preparation, you can be a pro! Here are five best practices to follow when starting your foreign language recording project, so you can ensure that the finished product lives up to your company’s expectations.

1. Understand Language Text Expansion

Slapping together a video and just hoping that it works for both English and other languages is a recipe for frustration. It’s one thing if you’re preparing to translate your video well after it has been made, but if you know you’ll be going into one (or several!) languages at the outset, write your script and shoot your video with that in mind.

The amount of text expands when translating from English into many languages, and chances are very good that a straight translation of your script will be too long to fit in your video comfortably. Some languages, such as Spanish, have as much as 30% more words in everyday conversation than English! Avoid the awkwardness of your script running into the next frame in your translated versions by writing in some extra time to allow for the extra words you’ll likely gain. Professional translation firms are adept at translating for a timed production, and can help overcome this challenge.

2. Choose the Right Voices for Your Video

Think about your listeners when you’re choosing the recording talent, and choose someone whose voice matches up with the message you’re trying to get across. A 2015 political voiceover study provides some insights on trends in this area—and public perception. For example, male voices were used in 62.7% of ads, and listeners tended to find them more credible than female voices. However, advertisers had success using female voices to discuss women’s issues, showing that it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Only you can judge what is best for your brand and your translation.

3. Try to Minimize the Number of Speakers

Are you juggling multiple speakers in your project? Why? Think about how many voices you actually need to get your message across. Having consistency helps keep viewers engaged, and more voices can add to the confusion. Consider minimizing the number of speakers whenever possible, for simplicity’s sake.

4. Provide Pronunciation Guide

Acronyms, proper nouns, slang…there are so many words and phrases that we English speakers take for granted, and they can present challenges for your recording talent. Speakers of other languages may not know what a particular word or abbreviation is or your talent may not know how you want something pronounced. Offering guidance on vague terms can save the talent time in the studio and reduce the risk of needing to do costly re-takes.

5. Choose a Translation Service Over a Recording Studio

Recording studios are focused on the quality of the recording, not on the quality of the translation. While the recording should sound good, the bigger focus should be on getting your message across. Choosing a translation service to provide your foreign language voiceover keeps the final product consistent and minimizes confusion. Be sure to choose a service with access to high-quality recording equipment to make sure your script sounds as good as it possibly can.

High Quality Voiceovers Matter

At the end of the day, preparation is what will help your foreign language voiceover project run smoothly. Choosing the right language service provider will help ease the process considerably. Before you get started, consult with the experts on how to optimize your video—and set yourself up for success!

Have a voiceover project that you want to get started?  Schedule a free consultation to get expert translators.