5 tips on how to handle multilingual projects.
Updated: Aug 20
When translating a voice-over project into one or several languages (localization) you should always think of the following before you start your production.
1. Make sure the translation is made for spoken word and copy translated (word to word).
The amount of words, or sometimes even the amount of characters, needs to be more or less the same. The timeline also needs to be intact so the translator can not move things around in the text. Some languages are up to 30% longer compared to English even when translated word by word. Therefore, you might need to recut the film to make the voice over fit your film.
2. If you need to sync to a film or audio track make sure you order a synced recording.
Synchronizing the reading to a video or audio file takes extra time and some special software and skills. Make sure the voice you are about to hire can do this or contact Voicemachine for help.
3. Make sure to attach a master script that has both the reference language and the translation to be recorded side by side. Set numbers for each part. This way languages not understood by the video editor can be inserted at the right place by just following the numbers read by the voice talent. Note! Make sure you instruct the voice talent to read the numbers in English before they read each part in their respective languages.
4. Make sure you have a master language version before you start any localizations.
A master session, preferably in English, can be used as a reference for the voice talents to sync to, or by the translators to make sure the translation will fit in time.
It’s always best to do all translations from one master language as "translation on translation" quickly can become very different from the original text.
5. Make sure your original master film has some space between the lines/scenes or that you have the ability to recut the film.
Even if you make a word to word copy translation some languages just take longer to read due to more characters per word or a more complex sentence structure. English is a very efficient language. Finnish is for example when translated from English approximately 30% longer in the number of characters. This simply means it will probably not fit if the original film is cut tight. If you order sync to picture it's no guarantee the recording will fit all parts. The voice talent will do their best to make it work but in case it's just not possible the talent will sync as long as it's possible. Then it's up to you to edit the film back to sync by adding some extra frames where needed.
Read more about how to write a script for spoken word here.