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What is voice over translation?

September 05 , 2021

What is voice over translation?

by Target Language Translation Services

- September 05 2021

voice over translation

Voice over translation is an audio-visual conversion of dialogue from one language to another. The original written script is translated to a different target language, recorded by a voice talent and then laid over the original visuals of the video. To achieve precise pronunciation, voice accent, and interpretation to appeal to the target local market, a native speaking voice is usually selected.

Why use voice over translation?

Localization is crucial to globalization. Research has found that localization increases sales, with 55% of consumers saying they prefer to buy a product if the information is packaged in their native language. If someone is able to understand information in their own language, they’re more likely to engage with it. Hence proving the power of localization, and thus voice over translation in a successful business model. Multilingual voice over allows for better information absorption and memory retainment, which results in more potential buyers taking action.

How to achieve right voice over translation?

With appropriate preparation, you can ease the process and create highly successful localized voice overs which allow you to penetrate markets and reach people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Here are some tips to help you achieve an accurate voice over.

Decide your voice

In each target language market, first contemplate what emotion you want to convey. Do you want to communicate happiness, expertise, excitement or professionalism? Often, the tone of your voice will (and should) vary depending on each language market.

Select the right voice talents

Be cautious in the selection from the beginning. Work with your language services partner to outline character profiles with names, gender, ethnic background, age and basic personality traits. Careful profiling will help ensure a successful end product — one that spares you the potential embarrassment and expense of selecting the wrong voice talent.

Ask for project-specific samples

If budget allows, get voice over artists to record a small sample of your translated script – this is the best way to decide if they’re good fit. If this isn’t feasible, ask for samples that are similar.

List several voice talents for each market

Don’t rely on just one artist, especially if you have ongoing, large voiceover initiatives. Your preferred talents may not always be available – so consider having several pre-approved options.

Permit liberal script translation

Your multimedia translations will likely be longer or shorter than the original version, but they will still need to fit into the same limited audio space. Allowing your script translators artistic license to adapt and shorten the script in your target languages will facilitate the synching process, and finally will save you time and money.

Be aware of the tech specs of your sound files

Determine the format and level of quality you need and stay in the tech loop with your technical advisor or tech producer/vendor. Ideally, get the source audio files as these will contain the original tech specs when opened in audio software.

Offer a pronunciation guide for the recording

Some parts of the script may be challenging in translation, such as acronyms, proper nouns, company, product names, etc. Determine in advance if, for instance, a company name acronym should be pronounced in the target language.

Decide your speaking speed

Select the correct cadence for your message with your dialogue director. When marketing a fitness product, for instance, you probably want a fast-paced delivery that is dynamic in all of your target languages. Technical content, on the other hand, may need a slower, more deliberate speaking speed and clearer articulation.

Quality assurance

Make sure your vendor offers linguistic quality assurance. In-country linguists(sourced from your overseas offices or hired via a localization staffing service) should review the final recording before you give your stamp of approval.

Types of voice over translation

At the beginning, it’s vital to identify which type of voice over translation you are adopting for your project. This depends on the context of the material. Here are the different methods and their applications:

The UN style

A popular option especially for news reporting style which still allows for the original dialogue to be heard. The speaker is heard a few seconds before the volume is lowered, after which the translated version is played over the top and the original soundtrack drops out. This method is applied for news footage, interviews, and documentaries for it remains the authenticity of the speaker’s real voice whilst allowing it to be comprehended in other languages.

The instructional style

This method needs more of a descriptive narrative. The original audio is completely removed and the voice actor has free reign to redraft a narrative that describes the action. This method is commonly applied for translating videos and e-learning materials.

The dialogue replacement

The dialogue replacement method involves the volume of the original dialogue being set to zero and the new translation overriding the top. Applied for corporate videos and e-learning tools, the method sometimes requires more than one voice actor to replace each on-screen speaker. This is to sustain and differentiate each personality.

The dubbing method

Dubbing completely and directly replaces the original with a recorded translation, which is often used for films and television shows. The new audio has to be as synchronised as possible with the on-screen lip movement, and all other noises such as hiccups or snorts have to be recorded too. When it is done well it is the most effective option available, however it requires a great deal of skill from the voice talent and can consequently be expensive.

Full actor translation

In some situations it might be possible to apply a green screen and completely replace the original actor with a new native-speaker. However, this will only work in very specific situations and is likely to be a more expensive option than other methods.


Giving your multimedia content a local voice ensures the content resonates with your target audience and assure that everything is seen and heard in the most effective way possible. When you’re ready to take your multimedia projects to new markets, contact Target Language Translation Services to learn more about finding a local voice.

This article is reprinted from BunnyStudio, acclaro and Brightlines Translation Services.

If there is a copyright, please inform us in time, we will delete it right the first time.

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