Foreign language voice overs: How to get top results

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A clear, confident voice-over narration is the perfect way to express your message in a foreign language.

Voice over projects in languages other than English require skill and organization in order to be successful. Translation for voice overs is quite different from translation for printed materials. Language Professionals can advise on all aspects of your foreign language projects to ensure the best possible result.

You will need…

A good script

It is important scripts are in ‘spoken language’ and not ‘written language’. Short, simple and clear sentences are best. The script should be well organized and suitable for voiceover purposes.

Timing is also important, as the script needs to be written – and translated – to match and synchronize with the other parts of your presentation: for example, some words need to be read at the same time as a specific image appears on screen. Remember that your French or German voice over script will most likely be longer than your English original, so a script that is too packed may result in a rushed delivery. Your presentation may need to be adjusted accordingly.

Finally, pronunciation guides should be included, especially for products names, acronyms and foreign language words. Voiceover artists will be native speakers of target languages, but guidance may be required for unfamiliar words or English phrases.

Know your audience

While the language chosen may be obvious, you have to consider other requirements such as accent, region or dialect: If you require Spanish, is it for Spain or South America?) If you require French, is it for France or Canada? If you require Portuguese, is it for Portugal or Brazil? If you require Chinese, is for Hong Kong or mainland China?, etc…

Also, who is your target audience? For example, you do not write for a younger audience using the same language as you would for an older audience.

A good voice over artist

If you have specific requirements around voiceover artists, you must communicate them to us. These include gender, age, style and tone: Do you need a male or female voice, do you need a younger or older sounding voice, should it sound friendly, caring, humorous or authoritative and business-like?

Language Professionals can then choose the most suitable people for your foreign language voiceover project. Or, in most languages, we can of course supply you with several sample voices for you to choose from. We use professional voiceover artists who speak the chosen language as their mother tongue.

Scripts need to be given to the voiceover artists prior recording so they have time to familiarize themselves with the content and practice reading it, making small amendments if required to suit their own delivery.

Technical specifications

You will need to advise on any restrictions or limitations as to the length of recording, clarifying if the final version has to split into smaller audio files and how much silence should be inserted before and after the audio.

Guidance should also be given on what the final deliverable format should be, such as WAV – 16 bit/48.0 kHz, mono or MP3 – 128 kbps/44.1 kHz, stereo.

If your recording requires visuals, we would normally ask you to supply us with a separate M&E track (music and effects) so all sound effects can be preserved. The foreign language track is recorded and then overlaid and mixed by an audio engineer.

Our voiceover recordings are made in professional studios with engineering support to produce work with high sound quality.

To discuss foreign language voice over projects, please contact Language Professionals on +61 2 9356 1600 or [email protected].

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