Voice-Over Translation: Why It’s Important

Published on July 8th, 2022

voice-over translation

Voice-overs are one of the most popular methods of video translation, but they are designed for certain cases where alternatives such as subtitles, captions and dubbing are less suitable.

The importance of voice-over translation is best described through two factors: first, the need for video translation as a broader service and second, the benefits of voice-overs over other methods. In this article, we discuss both factors and explain some of the most common scenarios where voice-overs are the best choice for video translation.

Video translation more important every year

According to data from Cisco (PDF), video content will account for 82% of all web traffic in 2022, up from 73% in 2017. All of the insights show that video content is becoming more important every year, but it also highlights how it has been the most important content format for many years already.

Video content is the top performer on social media with 66% of users saying short-form video is the most engaging form of social content in 2022 – up from 50% in 2020.

TikTok’s metric rise was entirely driven by short-form video content and platforms like Instagram are prioritising video over images and other forms of content. Brands that want to reach the widest possible audience, capture their attention and hold onto it need a solid video marketing strategy.

If your company operates in multiple language markets or you want to maximise the reach of your video campaigns (and your chances of going viral), video translation opens your footage up to viewers around the world.

As video content’s share of traffic continues to increase, video translation also becomes more important every year.

The benefits of voice-over translation

As the importance of video translation increases, content producers need to understand the different approaches they can take: subtitles, captions, voice-overs, dubbing, etc. For a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach, you can take a look at our comparison article: Voice overs, subtitles or captions – which is the best approach for video translation?

In this article, we are focusing on the benefits of voice-over translation specifically:

  • Viewers can concentrate on your video content without needing to read any text.
  • Voice-overs allow you to show important on-screen information, such as data visualisations or step-by-step guides.
  • Voice-overs can generally keep up with the pace of fast dialogue more effectively than text-based solutions, such as subtitles.
  • UN-style voice-over translations play over the original dialogue track, allowing viewers to hear the voice, emotion and intent of the speaker – common for news and documentary interviews.
  • Phrase-sync voice-overs replace the original dialogue entirely, which can be helpful for more instructional content.
  • Voice-overs require less effort from viewers than subtitles, which can be important for longer videos or content that requires a lot of attention. For example, video tutorials or e-learning courses.

The main downside to voice-over translation is the more complex production process compared to text-based solutions, such as subtitles and closed captions. We summarise the challenges of voice-over production and how to overcome them in the following article:

The Challenges of Voice-Over Translation.

It is not always a case of voice-over translation being superior to other solutions, though. Subtitles can allow you to cater for a wide range of languages for your budget and they are often the preferred method if you want to fully preserve the performance of actors, interviewees and other participants (hence why subtitles are so popular for film translation).

Also, subtitles and captions make your footage more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences – as well as people who simply choose or just prefer to watch video content with the sound turned off.

When to use voice-over translation

Once you understand the benefits of voice-over translation and the other approaches to video translation, you are in a better position to choose the right service for your next campaign.

Essentially, if it is more important that viewers’ attention is directed to what is happening on the screen, then voice-overs may be the best option. This presents a few obvious examples of when voice-overs are the preferred approach:

  • E-learning courses
  • Instructional video content (e.g. step-by-step guides for software products)
  • News stories
  • Televised speeches
  • Documentary interviews
  • Narration
  • Off-screen dialogue

In many cases, UN-style voice-overs are more effective when you have on-screen speakers, as this reduces the need for lip-syncing and preserves authenticity. Likewise, off-screen voice-over tracks are particularly effective in instances where dialogue comes from off-screen sources, such as narrators or e-learning instructors that don’t appear on-screen.

These are the key considerations to make when deciding whether voice-over translation is more suitable than subtitles and other video translation methods.

To discuss voice-over translation, captions, dubbing or subtitles for your next video project(s), do not hesitate to contact us. Call us on +44 (0)20 7324 0950 or fill out the form on our contact page.

Posted on: July 8th, 2022