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Video content is a huge part of the digital world and is growing all the time. It is estimated that the average person will watch 100 minutes of video online every day in 2021, compared to 84 minutes per day at the end of 2019 (although this might well have something to do with the current pandemic, the trend has been upwards for some time). Whatever you’re offering on video, whether it’s e-learning tools or social media marketing content, ensuring it can be understood in multiple languages opens you up to a much bigger audience.
There are various ways this can be done, including subtitling and transcripts, but there are many more benefits to choosing voiceover translation instead.
Voiceover translation is when a voiceover in one language is substituted for a voiceover in another language. 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 film. A native speaking voice is usually chosen because they have an accurate accent and pronunciation and can tailor the script appropriately to the chosen target market.
Using a foreign language voiceover makes it more likely that you will connect with your target audience. Localisation is crucial to globalisation and growth, allowing you to penetrate markets and reach people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Research has found that localisation 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.
Compared to other ways of translating video, voiceover translation comes out on top. Below we’ll have a look at how the various different methods compare.
Subtitles can distract viewers from the visual information they are receiving from a video. Whilst they work in some scenarios, they can take too much attention from the content and cause the viewer to miss information that is communicated visually, such as body language cues or background details. It becomes especially difficult if a video includes text, for example as infographics, or if multiple people are speaking and there is no way to differentiate their voices. Spoken voiceover offers much more personality than subtitles, which can be make or break when holding the viewer’s attention.
Another potential problem with subtitles is that the text of different languages can vary greatly in length. This can cause the screen to become very text heavy, or for the subtitle not to fit on the appropriate shot. If the titles on screen appear too quickly the message will become confusing and the artistic considerations of a film can be compromised.
Trying to read a transcript at the same time as watch a video is difficult, to put it mildly. Most of the visual information will be lost as the viewer attempts to keep up with the written translation and it will be hard to know whether they are in sync with the video or not. Grasping the tone or mood of the video will be impossible and any subtleties either on screen or within the transcript will be missed. Voiceover translation allows the viewer to give the video their full attention and will get much more out of it.
There are various types of voiceover translation you could use for your project and the choice you make will usually depend on the context of the material. Use the following guide to help you decide:
Dubbing completely replaces the original with a recorded translation. The new audio has to be as synchronised as possible with the on-screen lip movement, and all other noises such as yawns or sneezes 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.
A simpler version of dubbing, voice replacement involves the volume of the original dialogue being set to zero and the new translation being played over the top. Although the dialogue will be synced with the on screen action as far as possible, it is not as precisely matched as with dubbing.
This method is often used for news-style reporting and allows for the original dialogue to still be heard. The speaker is heard for a few seconds before the volume is lowered, after which the translated dialogue is added over the top and the original soundtrack drops out. This method is used for interviews, documentaries and news footage as it retains the authenticity of the speaker’s real voice whilst allowing it to be understood in other languages.
In this method the voice actor describes what is happening on screen without a script. The original audio is completely removed and the voice actor is free to speak a narrative that describes the action in the target language. This method is commonly used for translating e-learning materials and other content that requires a straightforward conveyance of information, rather than emotion or subtlety.
In some situations it might be possible to use a green screen and completely replace the original actor with a new native-speaker. However, this will only work in very specific circumstances and is likely to be a more expensive option than the ones described above.
Voiceover translation can help to localise your material and help it to penetrate new markets in ways which standard subtitles or transcripts can’t. By selecting the right method of translation for your video you will be able to ensure that the information, tone and fluidity are true to the original and that nothing is lost in translation. It’s vital for the growth of your business and brand that your messaging is consistent, and an expertly done voiceover translation will do just that.