Voice-over translation is one of the most popular methods of translating video footage for international audiences. Quality voice-overs can put your footage on the international stage and enhance the viewing experience for multiple language audiences.
In this article, we explain the most common types of voice-overs, by discussing the benefits of voice-over translation services and taking a look at which types of footage they are best suited for.
Voice-over translation places a translated audio track over the original dialogue in video footage. This translation solution is most commonly used for factual productions, such as: documentaries, news reports and interviews, or recordings of live events.
There are two main types of voice-over which are commonly used to translate video content:
- UN-style voice-over: Translated voice-overs are layered over dialogue and synchronised to begin a few seconds after the speaker. The original dialogue is preserved so viewers can still hear the speaker, but the audio track is turned down to roughly 20% so that the voice-over is clearly distinguishable.
- Off-screen voice-over: Translated voice-overs replace the dialogue of off-screen speakers, such as narrators, and are synchronised to match on-screen events rather than the original dialogue.
UN-style voice-overs are most commonly used in interviews, news footages, live event coverage and other instances where dialogue of on-screen speakers is translated. Off-screen voice-overs are most commonly used in documentaries, video advertisements and other instances where off-screen dialogue is translated.
Also Read: Voice-Over Translation: Why It’s Important
Voice-over translation services have a number of inherent advantages – both as a standalone solution, and when compared to other video translation approaches (namely subtitles and captions):
- Reach: As with all video translation services, voice-over translation expands your video campaign reach into foreign-language audiences.
- Text-free translation: Voice-overs provide a text-free alternative to subtitles and captions that do not require viewers to read text.
- Concentration: For some footage types, voice-overs allow viewers to concentrate on what is happening on-screen, which can be important when showing important information during dialogue (e.g. graphs, stats, quotes, images, etc.).
- Pace: Voice-overs can keep up with the pace of speech better than subtitles and captions, especially for fast-paced or complex dialogue.
- Synchronisation: The pacing advantage can help with synchronising voice-over tracks to dialogue.
- Conversations: Voice-overs may be more effective than text-based translations for conversations between multiple speakers.
- Narration and Interviews: Voice-overs are generally more effective for off-screen narration and interviews.
- Tone & style: Voice-over translation services allow you to have better control over the end tone and style of each language, which you can use to preserve the original feel or adapt to local audiences where appropriate.
These advantages mean that voice-over translation may be the preferred option for certain types of footage. In video translation, it is important to understand your campaign goals and audience expectations, in order to choose the best approach on a case-by-case basis.
For companies and brands that are not sure on which approach is best for their campaigns, discussing their needs with a language agency that specialises in video translation is highly recommended. Here at translate plus, our team can help guide you in making the right decision.
Beside discussing the strengths of voice-over translation, it is also important to understand the limitations of language services. No translation method is perfect for every project type, it is therefore crucial to consider the drawbacks of each solution and to choose the best approach for each piece of content (or, in some cases, each scene).
Here are the main drawbacks to voice-over translation compared to other approaches to video translation, such as subtitles and captions:
- Voice-over translation can be more expensive than text-based alternatives like translated subtitles and captions.
- Voice-over production is more intensive than text-based solutions.
- Voice-overs may compromise the authenticity of dialogue, especially if emotion is an important factor.
- While voice-overs can be easier to synchronise with conversations and fast dialogue (compared to subtitles), lip-syncing is difficult, and any mismatches can be distracting to the audience.
- Finding the right voice talent can be challenging.
- Recreating the on-screen chemistry or drama in voice-overs is not easy.
- With dubbing, you lose the original performance of actors/participants altogether.
When deciding on which approach to take with video translation, you should always consider the pros and cons of each solution in relation to your footage. The advantages and drawbacks discussed in this article can only offer an initial guidance, but they are not set in stone and are not the applicable standard to every individual case.
Each project, each piece of footage and, potentially, every scene needs to be looked at separately to determine which voice-over translation approach is best. Assumptions should be avoided.
For example, voice-over translation is generally the most-effective solution for interview scenarios, but there are instances where alternatives like subtitles are preferred. For example, when a TV news reporter retells a tragic event, translated subtitles may better preserve the speaker’s raw emotion and authenticity of their words. Using a voice-over and trying to recreate this emotion could compromise the authenticity of this particular scene and potentially disrespect the speaker or confuse the viewers.
If you’d like to know more on which approach to take with video translation or often require voice-over translation services for your video translation projects, get in touch with us via our contact page.