When you think about localizing multimedia content, what kind of voice do you want narrating the translated script? If you get stuck after “a nice one,” keep reading: you need this blog post.
The voice behind your narration can be the most powerful link you have with your audience. Depending on the type of video content, the actor you choose may become the voice of your brand. Will your brand and voice sound credible?
Hiring the right voice talents can be a lengthy, time-consuming, expensive process full of trial and error and rework – unless you take some time to clarify what you’re really looking for. Here’s how to get started.
Before you start your search for voice talent to record your video, be sure you have defined your “voice profile” — a carefully considered list of qualities that will help your brand resonate with the target audience.
You need to develop a list of qualities — female or male, loud or soft, a mature or childlike voice, a certain accent, authoritative or silly, and so on. Does that voice match your target demographic, or is it different in ways your audience will admire, find amusing, etc.
Make sure you clearly define the purpose of your recording — to give advice, to entertain or to teach? This can affect the type of voice you want to hire. Taken together, this list is your voice profile. If you start with this list already defined you can save time and easily narrow your results.
Voice talents (narrators or actors) generally fit in one of three categories:
- Non-professionals or amateurs. These are individuals who may lack formal training but do have experience with voice recording work. They may be viable for many types of audio jobs.
- Professional voice talents. These people have formal training and/or certifications in voiceover work and may be appropriate for a wider variety of audio recording jobs, but are not actors.
- Professional actors are highly qualified professionals with years of experience. They often are members of actor’s guilds, and they are the most expensive.
The type of talent you hire should map to the type of content requiring audio. Amateurs are well suited for:
- Short videos such as how-to videos or product demos
- Online trainings
- Website tours
In contrast, professionals or actors are better suited for higher-profile content such as:
- Movie trailers, TV, podcasts
- Video games
- Ads, commercials and promotional materials
A professional should be able to offer voice samples showing their degree of skill and versatility. You might screen actors via samples they have online, but you also might send a paragraph from your script and ask them to record an audition. Make sure you circulate the audition files to all the in-country stakeholders who can offer insights on speaking style, dialect, cadence, and other nuances that influence how native speakers will perceive your brand.
Less-than-professional audio quality will turn away audiences and render your entire video localization effort worthless. Expect to pay for the professional studio and audio engineer, and possibly travel costs for the voice talents. However, many professionals maintain their own equipment such as amplifiers, microphones and editing software, which can make a big difference in your budget.
If your project doesn’t absolutely require voiceover per se, check out this blog post for hardcore budget optimization in your video localization, and be sure to watch our webinar on best practices for multimedia localization.