Whether you’ve a self-help video that you’d like to make available in a different territory, a monthly English-speaking podcast that the Hispanic market is crying out for or you’re looking to add foreign language voice overs to an offbeat documentary from the 1970’s about the Himalayan wild yak – for successful audio translation, you’ll need a plan.
At VoiceBox, translating audio is one of our passions so we thought we’d share the ‘secrets’ behind our audio translation special sauce in four simple steps:
Transcription? Say what?
Unless there’s an original script to translate, the first step for audio translation is to perform a native language transcript. If the audio is to accompany pre-existing video content, it’s important for the transcription to be time-coded as this will pre-define the voice over timings which will need to be followed by your voice over artist.
However, if the existing audio content is stand alone, without an accompanying video file, e.g. a podcast, it’s not necessary to add time codes to the transcript.
Go local: translation and transcreation
Working from your transcript, our native-language translators will localise the script into your target language. What is ‘transcreation’?
In addition to the translation of the transcript, the translator will take into account the meaning behind certain terms and idioms and choose relevant cultural equivalents to convey the same message. This process is known as transcreation. English, for example, is a language that’s littered with idioms that, if literally translated, would make no sense in other languages. ‘The weight of the world on his shoulders’ would cause complete confusion if directly translated into Japanese.
Your timing is impeccable!
As well as making sure that the translated words ‘fit’ your newly localised script, transcreation also ensures that your translations ‘fit the timings’ which have been defined from the time-codes. For example, with English to German text expansion sitting at around 30%, it’s vital that a native-German speaker interchanges words and terms to meet the strict time constraints.
Voice Over: Finding your voice
As with translation, native-language is key to the success of the a voice over that will resonate with your target demographic.
Whilst there are no shortage of people around the world who’ve learned an additional language or two, the fact is there’s no comparison between the authenticity of a native language voice over artist and a voice over artist who has ‘mastered’ an additional language in their spare time.
We don’t do ‘Franglais’
As well as the importance of having your recordings undertaken by a native language voice over artist, it’s also critical to work with a voice over artist who resides in your target geographic location.
Without getting overly bogged down in linguistic theory, if, for example, a French voice over artist has lived in London for the past 10 years, whether consciously or unconsciously, their accent will change and develop to meet their needs of ‘fitting in’ culturally.
Though these changes may be subtle to the untrained ear, the slight accent change can be overt to your target demographic and ultimately be the difference maker between a well received voice over and one that will impact negatively upon audience engagement.
Burn, baby, burn: syncing your audio translation to video
The final piece in the audio translation jigsaw puzzle is syncing your new localised voice over to the original video content or, as those of us in the business call it: burning in the audio.
This is the moment when, if hasn’t already done so, your time-coded transcription ‘steals the show’.
Using the time codes of the original transcript as a guide, the audio and video editing process entails overlaying the new audio in the relevant intervals. What’s more, if you want to get fancy, this is where you can mix original audio soundtracks for a seamless end product and not the ill-executed (though hilariously iconic) Bruce Lee-esque videos of old.