Shop Smart: Voice Over Recording for Training Videos in Multiple Languages

By Julieta Querol – Owner and operator, Leap Translations

So you finally finished that training video. It’s a work of art accomplished by summoning teams of experts from various fields: QA project managers, camera crews, sound engineers, marketing PMs, etc., etc.

Your project may be one long module encompassing a whole workstation, or a simple 2 minute video that your employees will be able to watch on a tablet, or even their personal phone.

You are so proud of your finish product that you have decided to launch it in multiple languages to accommodate the needs of your culturally diverse staff.

Okay! Now… what? Should you hire a localization company? A translation provider? Have your own staff take a stab at it?

Let’s say you want things done right, so you choose an expert: a translation company who works with experts in many languages. Can you check that box off your list and focus your attention on your next project? After all, you are paying premium fees and vendors like the one you chose do this for a living. Surely, it will guarantee your hands-free peace of mind. Right?

Hmm… Not quite.

There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a partner that will transform your masterpiece into one of equal quality in another language. Here is my attempt at a summarized list:

1) Make sure the language provider you have chosen is an expert in your industry. Why is this important? There are several components, as you know, that build up a video. To name a few (for an existing video in English, for eg.):

a) Training program developer/instructional trainer (you) & Project Manager

b) Translator

c) Voice Actor

d) Producer

e) Sound Engineer

a) The translator must know the content in depth in order to represent your brand/idea in the target language. Your message must stay intact and the language barrier must be invisible. It is a great sign, when the translator asks you questions about the content as they work on the script, to ensure a thorough understanding of the material.

b) The voice actor should be a native in the language they are recording into. No-brainer, but make sure they will record in the dialect/with the accent you want and that they are not simply ‘bilingual.’

c) It is crucial that the producer is both bilingual and extremely familiar with the script before the recording session. Voice actors tend to take matters into their own hands in an effort to make the content sound more genuine and personalized. That is great, as long as they are not changing anything that is critical to your content. This is particularly important when it comes to things like recipes, or food preparation. It is the job of the producer to catch the discrepancies that occur when an actor decides that something ‘sounds better/makes more sense this way.’

d) Lastly, the sound engineer must also be bilingual in the target language or otherwise work with a native speaker. This ensures clean takes that also match the script accurately.

2) Request that the translator is present during the recording session, or at the very least has an open channel of communication with the producer so they can answer any questions about the script.

3) Bundle up. Look for providers that have their own recording studio of professional quality. You can even request a sound sample to make sure it meets your standards. Sometimes, smaller vendors work with their own team of translators/voice actors who also have their own equipment and often times have the skills to produce/engineer the sound files as well. This will save you hundreds and even thousands in studio, production and project management fees.

4) Ask for references. Most providers who are experts on the matter will be proud to offer you references that back up the quality of their work.