A voice-over is an audio clip or layer used to provide a narrative to a video. It is in addition to the voice of the speakers on the screen. This voice over can be in the same language as that of the speakers or in a different language.
A voice-over is also a way of translating videos into other languages so that your video can reach many more people. When we do voice-over translation, we record the speakers’ dialogue as well as the commentary, if there is one, in the target language. The original voices of the actors in the source language can still be heard in the background.
Which industries use voice-over?
Voice-overs are used in video marketing for explainer videos, short product demos, and so on. Though it is relevant in all industries, in some we see that they are more widely used. They are:
In the banking and finance sector, demand for voice over has increased with the use of chatbots. These bots greet the customer and take different types of requests. When the bot speaks to them in their language, it’s welcoming and reassuring to the customer.
In e-commerce, voice-overs are used to read out product descriptions, so the customer can shop through audio while driving or multitasking.
Voice-overs are also used in many other industries such as travel where customers use voice-activated services to achieve their goals on the website. It lets them enjoy a hands-free experience.
Multilingual voice-overs find many applications in e-learning, television commercials, gaming, audiobooks, and so on.
What is a professional voice-over?
Usually, companies spend a lot in scripting the video, recruiting the actors, and directing them. A professional voice-over does justice to the resources you have already spent on video production. Follow the below steps to achieve a high-quality voice over:
1. Prepare/Translate the script.
When writing the script, test constantly to see if the dialogue is flowing smoothly when being spoken. Are you getting stuck somewhere when reading out, or is it sounding natural? If you need to create a voice-over in another language, you need to translate it first.
Translation of the script brings with it many challenges: the length of the voice-over in a particular scene must relate to that scene and be encapsulated within that scene. It must not fall very short, or it must not be very long, else it will spill over into the next scene.
This is easier said than done. Many a time, it is not possible to use the same number of words as in the source language. The length of the words may themselves be different. And it is not just the sheer length of the narrative dialogue that you need to be concerned with, but most importantly, if it’s making sense.
This often requires several rounds of translating and editing.
2. Recruit a professional voice actor.
A good voice actor can breathe life into your script. Voice acting is a special skill that requires you to know where to pause, what to emphasize, how to modulate your voice and the like. You also need to determine what type of voice you need, which often depends on the subject of the video as well as the audience. For a children’s video, you might want a playful and friendly voice. An explainer video for an insurance product needs to sound authoritative.
3. Record in a professional studio. It should have a soundproof booth to record the audio and professional editors to polish the voice-over.
4. Use automated voice-overs.
Unless you have a specific reason to use professional voice actors, you can always use automated voice-overs, if you are in a hurry. This will save you time and effort in looking for the right voice actors and then recording them in a studio. Braahmam’s media localization partner Mediawen offers automated voice-overs in a number of languages for any content type. You can choose from among different types of voices, the tone required, and background music.
Some recommendations while using voice-over
Firstly, decide why you want a voice-over. Is it what your audience prefers? Some audiences prefer voice-overs to subtitles, and the vice-versa is also true. Is it more suitable for the type of video content? Some training content may have quite a bit of on-screen text. In such cases, subtitling will only add more text to the screen and make it look crowded. Here, a voice-over would be a better choice. But if there are too many speakers, which consequently results in many voice actors and requires a lot of scripts to be translated and pace-matched, subtitles may be an easier option.
A voice-over becomes effective when it is essential to the narrative and does not feel imposed on. It contributes to the viewer’s experience when it’s also the best video translation option for that video.
Next, we can’t stress enough the quality of the voice acting. Recruiting the right talent requires time, and often there is none. So, this is where compromises can happen, and you should watch out for them. The casting gets associated with your brand. So, the right voice can create good associations, while an inappropriate voice can bring in associations you would much rather do without.
After writing the script, check it for cultural and social resonance. If you have used humour, is it something that the target audience will get? Or, will it fall flat? Worse still, it shouldn’t be offending. This is especially important if you are translating the script for a video that was perhaps filmed in another language. The voice-over script may need to be adapted and not just translated so that it is relevant and suitable for the target audience. Working with in-country experts is a good idea, as they can advise you on cultural appropriateness.
Be prepared for last-minute changes and edits. Because of the many requirements for a perfect voice-over, sometimes there may be changes to the script while recording the voice-over. If the script is not packing a punch, you’ll have to re-write it. If the script is not sounding great when spoken by the voice actor, you’ll have to make it crisper. Sometimes, you might get stuck over a single word in the source language, for which you might not find an apt translation that is also of the same length.
Work with the right video translation company. It can take care of many of the issues such as recruiting, cultural adaptation, and accurate translation. As it is their core job, they can get all of this done within the project deadline and budget. They work with a huge network of translators, editors, in-country reviewers, voice-over actors, and directors. They are familiar with the issues that might crop up and the best practices that can be implemented.
Voice-over translation of your videos will take them to many places around the world. This audio-visual translation technique lets you retain the same video, but adapt it for diverse audiences. This way, it’s far less expensive, easier, and quicker than creating videos from scratch for your video marketing campaigns, product explainers, training videos, and the like.