Audio Translation Guidelines
Choosing the Script’s Tone (and the actor)
One of the first decisions in audio translation is to decide how the voice translation tone should be.
Should it be upbeat and youthful, professional and accurate, even-paced or high energy? Our recommended default mode for most translation is to use a professional newscaster-style, which conveys solid and accurate information for your products.
The second decision is whether to use male or female voices. This is ultimately the customer’s decision. You should also choose your actor carefully as you may need to update scripts in the future — you need to ensure their availability when required — voice talent is always booked in advance.
For technical marketing, there can be a number of ways to pronounce product terminology, depending on your region or preference.
Actors will by default for IT products use a US-style pronunciation for IT terminology such as iPod, Internet, NAS, DHCP, etc, as this is how these are commonly pronounced around the world. If you translate your product into German, do you want the US-style pronunciation or a German one?
Occasionally some clients will have specific pronunciation-style requests for new technology or key product names. We will always strive to determine if such requirements are required in advance. The work you do at the start of a voice project is key to a successful delivery.
Developing your script – Timing
When you record your original English voice script remember the following points to support translation.
Length: Translation typically will be longer, sometimes up to 30%. Therefore you should leave additional time spacing in your audio or video links to incorporate this potential change. If an actor has to speak faster to get the text into a tight time slot, it won’t sound natural.
Translation language order can also change. For some languages, the order of words in sentences can change. So for example if you have the text “to see a demo, click here”, you cannot rely on the timing of the term “click here” in your video. It is best not to sync video and sound as it can be difficult to reproduce. Use loose timings.
Default rule: record segments of your script and leave appropriate extra silences for the translators.
Audio and Video Timing Adjustments – Tracking
When syncing a video clip to an audio clip, we recommend you record segments of text rather than have one single continuous recording.
The English version is actually broken into a string of key audio segments marked with silence markers. These silences can then be expanded by the translation team to ensure the translation matches your video.
If you have four sequence shots in your video, it would be best to have four audio segments joined as a single audio file. This ensures the translation process is smoother and delivers higher quality results. It is easier for your sound engineers to work with, in post-production as well. They may not speak the language, but they will be able to count the segments and work in blocks. When you need to fix a problem, you can specify the sentence the issues is with and the rest is much easier.
Working with Source Files – Timing
For all audio translations, we work with source files from you. This ensures that our timing sequences match yours exactly. Playing files from CDs or streaming video can impact the timing based on CD speed or the speed of a weblink. Timecode your scripts for better translation.
The Audio Translation Process
The basic process utilized for the translation of audio is as follows.
- First, we obtain a written copy of your script. A time-coded script is best. If you don’t have one we can create it for you.
- The script is then translated into the target language. There are usually some questions on terminology, phrasing, etc at this stage.
- Any terminology issues or questions are identified at this stage. We also review the text with respect to general timing and length of text. If the text is too long, we will adjust the translation accordingly with advice from you.
- We select the voice artist for your audio translation.
- We will ask you about specific pronunciation, or areas we might need to shorten based on initial timings.
- We review the video or audio for key timing points and translation suitability.
- We translate and record each of your files in segments matching timing and tracking information as appropriate.
- When completed, we check the audio track against your original for timing and translation quality before finally delivering the completed translation back to you.
- Post-production. Some customers do the final post-production work themselves, others have us to it for them. We can produce final video output from a number of systems.
- As an extra, we can also provide subtitling or captioning if needed