Localization Insights
Localization Insights

The Complete Guide to Voice-Over Localization

Many businesses are now using localization services to extend their reach into new territories. Rather than create brand-new content for each target market, the same core content can be repurposed with localized translations and audio. 

When done right, voice-over localization can be cost-effective and deliver a high return on investment. However, if you want to reap the benefits of voice-over translation and localization, you’ll need to partner with an experienced provider. Looking to learn more about voice-over localization? Our guide has all the information you need. 

How voice-over localization can enhance your marketing efforts

It’s easy to focus on visuals when creating marketing messages. However, audio is just as important. A voice-over not only supports what’s happening on-screen, but it also helps convey meaning and reinforces your message with emotional weight. 

As well as enriching your marketing video content, voice-overs can help strengthen your brand identity. When targeting new markets, you need to approach your audience with language they understand. This goes beyond word-for-word translations. Instead, you need a fully-loaded campaign that takes into account cultural differences and colloquialisms. 

How to achieve high-quality voice-over localization results 

The first thing you need to do is define your Voice Brand. Whether you’re a company or an individual content creator, your voice-overs should be the audio personification of your overall brand reflected across all your other customer or audience touchpoints. While minor voice variations may be necessary from market to market, your brand ‘personality’ will typically stay consistent—finance brands may favor a more professional, authoritative tone, while consumer brands or tech startups may favor a casual style. If you have an original video or production available, that’s a helpful reference point for style-matching and adaptation.

Next, you’ll need to find experienced voice talent for your localized audio. To ensure you’re ready to target as many markets as possible, you’ll want to use a localization partner with an extensive network of professional voice-over talent. At BLEND, we work with more than 1,500 voice actors, making it easy to strike the right note in every territory. 

It’s important to have a solid script in place, but for the best results, you’ll need to allow for flexibility. Script translators need to be free to make minor changes to ensure localized voice-overs match up to your video content. Sometimes, not every word can or should be translated. We’re talking about things like acronyms and brand names here. If needed, make sure to include a pronunciation guide to streamline the localization process and ensure consistent results. 

Quality assurance is also essential. While an experienced localization partner will have robust QA policies in place, it’s a good idea to test your localized audio before making your content public. 

Voice-over localization FAQs

What is voice-over?

Traditionally, voice-over refers to the off-screen narration. It could be a narrator describing what’s happening on screen in a documentary or a journalist reading a report while news footage plays. 

However, the term is used more generally when it comes to localization and translation. It refers to any type of spoken-word audio that replaces an original audio track. 

What is the process of voice-over translation and localization?

If you’re thinking about translating and localizing content, you’ll first need to gather all relevant files. This content then needs to be delivered to a localization partner. Professional linguists will then translate the script into a target language, while voice-over artists are selected to perform the new audio. 

Once the translated script has been recorded, audio post-production and editing get underway to ensure your voice-over is convincingly matched to your video content. 

What is dubbing?

Dubbing involves the replacement of voices on screen with new ones. It’s regularly encountered in film, where it’s also referred to as “revoicing”. However, it’s not only utilized by the film industry. Dubbing is also used to replace the voices of presenters and interview subjects, the cast of animated shows, or virtual characters in video games. 

There are a few key types of dubbing – phrase-sync, non-synced, bilingual delay, and lip-sync. 

Lip-sync dubbing explained

Lip-sync dubbing is the most complex and resource-intensive of all voice-over translations. As well as replacing the original audio with content in a new language, it needs to match up closely to the lip movements of the original. This level of synchronization takes real effort but delivers impressive results. The best examples match up so well that audiences will barely notice that the original audio has been replaced. 

Lip-sync dubbing can be incredibly difficult. Some languages use more words than others to get across the same message. While a professional voice actor will excel in this area, editors need to fine-tune the results. Ultimately, lip-sync dubbing can prove to be an expensive option. 

Phrase-sync dubbing explained

This is a looser approach to dubbing. Instead of trying to match the original language word-for-word, the voice-over focuses on phrases instead. 

Although not as seamless as lip-sync dubbing, it does deliver well-timed results. What’s more, it’s an easier process to undertake and can be completed far more quickly. Naturally, this brings cost-saving benefits. 

Non-synced dubbing explained

This is an even looser approach to dubbing. With non-synced dubbing, little effort is made to match up the localized audio content with on-screen movements. However, the translated dialogue needs to reflect the context of the original. It’s rarely used in things like film and television shows. It’s commonly utilized in documentaries and other factual content. 

Because it’s less restrictive than other phrase-sync and lip-sync dubbing, non-synced dubbing can be delivered quickly and affordably. 

Bilingual delay dubbing explained

This is a specific type of dubbing where the original audio remains intact. A translated dub is then overlaid with the original media, with the translated content usually kicking in a few seconds later. 

Although the original audio remains, its volume is typically reduced to background noise, allowing the newly recorded content to be heard clearly. You’ll encounter bilingual delay dubbing in news reports and interviews. It’s commonly used to bring authority to content, ensuring that the original message is accurate. 

Localize voice-over and subtitles for your target market today

Planning on taking your business into new territories? You’ll need a solid localization strategy to ensure your marketing messages make the right impression on your target markets. By retooling your blogs, adapting social media channels, and thinking about website localization, you can boost brand loyalty and increase brand visibility. Voice-over localization is one of the most effective ways you can let new audiences know you speak their language. 

At BLEND, we offer a full range of translation services and multimedia localization solutions. With thousands of artists in our voice catalog, it’s never been easier to find the right talent for video translation, web narration, eLearning videos, and more. Our network of linguists covers more than 120 languages. Ready to talk about voice-over localization? Get in touch with BLEND today.

author post

Matt Strach

As BLEND’s Director of Enterprise Marketing, Matt brings 14 years in the audio and video production industries to help businesses execute successful voice and video localization campaigns.


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