Effective voice-overs: Say what you mean

I work as a Producer and Recording Engineer at The Geo Group. In this role, I often run into problems with client-supplied script translation. Some clients have their own employees translate their video scripts to cut costs. But these employees may not be native speakers of the target language. As a result, the scripts contain errors that slow down our recording process. And the cost savings from do-it-yourself translations evaporate.

script translation is the basis for voice-over

Recently, we were doing a Spanish voice-over for an instructional video. Any error in the script about medical issues would have been problematic. But as you can imagine, it was very important to have correct translations for all medical terms.

Errors in script translation

The script contained many mentions of the word anemic. The correct Spanish translation would have been anémico. Yet, the client had supplied a script translation using the word anímico. This caused some consternation and subsequent hilarity in the studio. After all, the video about blood-related illnesses had morphed into a video about “mood.” All with a simple switch from é to í. Such typos are devious, because simple spell-checkers do not pick them up. Errors like this are only detected if someone reads the text with real understanding.

Proofreading by professional translators

Studio time is relatively expensive. Thus, it is advisable to iron out linguistic problems before we go into the studio. Many people take part in a voice-over recording session: the voice talent, a checker, possibly a producer or director, and a sound engineer. Thus, while the voice talent rewrites the script to fix such terminological problems, several people just sit there and wait. How unproductive.

We typically recommend that a professional translator look over client-supplied scripts. Just to ensure that your video says what you mean. Yes, such prep work costs extra money and adds time up front. But it is cheaper than spending unnecessary time during the recording session. And while we enjoy a good laugh in the studio, it should not be caused by moody mistranslations.

by Jon Lindley


Request a quote!