Voice Over Translations -- Do you have a 1:1 Ratio?

Working in different languages

Working with voice actors in different languages can be incredibly exciting. It is a nice change of pace to hear the cadence of a language other than your own while recording a project. That said, you’ve really got to be on your toes.

Just because you don’t understand the language, doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention. In fact, you need to pay twice as much attention to the project if you want to produce an excellent voice over in a foreign language.

When translating the script from one language to another, the speaking time may not have a 1:1 ratio. Here is an example: it takes approximately 25% longer to say the same thing in Spanish as it does in English.

What to do when ratios are not 1:1

So when we translate a 60 second English radio commercial into Spanish, we end up with a 75 second long script, which obviously does not work. It must either be shortened or read significantly faster.

Here is another example: While an American dinosaur may give a three second "Rooooaaarrrr", Korean dinosaurs have to say all of "Uh reuh wrong!" in order to express the exact same sentiments. It takes about five to six seconds to say "Uhhh Reuhhhh Wronnnngg."

This can throw a wrench (or some other prehistoric tool) into a VO session pretty quickly.

An example

We recently worked on a fun Korean language commercial. The voice actor was excellent. The client sent over the English version of the commercial as a reference and it was spunky and clever. We were all excited to record.

The session went smoothly, and the client loved the voice actor’s delivery. He conveyed just the right tone and was such a pleasure to work with. We delivered the audio and closed out the project.

The next week, the client came back and asked us to sync the recording to the video. Unfortunately, syncing already recorded Korean audio with an English language video is not as easy as one, two, three.

See, because the video itself had no mouth flaps to match, the client assumed we could just lay the Korean recording on top and all would be well. That, however, was not the case.

After some back and forth...

Most Asian languages are about a third longer than English, so, even though there was no lip syncing involved, the whole pace of the Korean delivery would need to be changed to fit with the English video.

After some back and forth, and some experiments with compressing and clipping, the client finally decided to do a full re-record. They didn’t want to cut anything from the script, so the voice actor sped up his delivery to accommodate the differences in the languages.

The voice actor was extremely skilled and was able to convey the same tone at a quicker pace, but it's always good to make sure your script is prepped to fit the materials it's going with.

It takes much less time to Roar than to Uh reuh wrong!

by edgeadmin

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