Important decisions to make when recording multilingual voiceovers.

As a bilingual producer for many years, I’ve come to understand the importance of getting multilingual voiceovers recorded ‘right first time’.

Media, language service providers and creative agencies sometimes request UK based multilingual artists from our database and ask us to arrange for the artist to go to a central London or UK based studio for the recording session. This can be a costly exercise as UK  based artists will need to charge for a day’s work as well as their travel time and the client has to book a studio, engineer and often a native language VO director if recording a foreign language.

Why is it sometimes better for clients’ to use your UK studio?

Sometimes a producer or client may want the luxury of supervising the recording session. This is especially useful when directors know exactly what they need from an artist to bring their story alive. However, if recording in a foreign language which the clients and supervisors do not understand, there is an additional need for an in-country voice director to attend the session if the artist is not totally bilingual.

This type of situation can get confusing for the voiceover artist and the voice director, who also becomes an interpreter and script translator and will need to discuss potential concerns about the script with the artist, client and studio director. This 4 way communications situation can often create all sorts of additional issues, such as possible script changes due to pronunciation, translation errors or cultural nuances.  Studio time is often eaten up, costs increase and sometimes decisions are rushed or taken which may need amending at a later stage.

What are the advantages of using an in-country foreign based studio?

For many clients, they get the quality and results they need by using in-country studios for foreign language voiceovers. By that, we mean a studio based in the country where the artist is based.

As an example, we have a male Brazilian VO artist in Rio who many of our clients request as their 1st preference for Brazilian Portuguese projects. To send an artist of this calibre to London would cost thousands of pounds compared to just a few hundred if the job is handled in a Rio recording studio.

Our artists, who are all top professionals, will flag up any issues or concerns with the content of the script prior to recording. These issues can be discussed with the script translator/proofreader and the client to agree and sign off as required.  This workflow is practical and cost effective.

What’s my view?

Due to instant online communications, the multilingual voiceover business is changing dramatically. I prefer to book our professional artists in-country, who work out of professional studios and have an excellent command of English for project communications.  Final recordings are of a high quality, are culturally accurate and are extremely cost effective.

The secret to recording multilingual voiceovers in-country is getting the correct instructions conveyed to the artist. That way, before any recording takes place, the scripts have been read and all the vocal descriptors in terms of tone, style and pace agreed.

Pronunciations of keywords and phrases in the translated script are also critical and we always request a phonetic glossary or audio recording for acronyms, brand, product, place and people names. This ensures our artists have all the project instructions and information to complete a ‘right first time’ recording.

Finally, if an English video or online mp4 file is available during the re-versioning process the voice artist will use the video as a style guide and produce a perfect result.

What’s your view?

Do you have any preferences for recording multilingual voiceovers in the UK or in-country? If so, I’d like to hear from you.


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