Mastering Media Localization: Ready, Set, Record

Taking your creative concept from one medium to another, aka media adaptation, can seem a daunting task. Add to the mix a need for media localization, and it can all start to feel a little … foreign. But creating multilingual versions of your media assets need not be a puzzling process.

Whether you’re producing subtitles, closed captions, or recording a voiceover (VO), there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to media localization. Let’s start with VO:

  • Expect Expansion

Languages naturally differ in length. For example, when English copy is translated into French or Spanish, the length will expand by roughly 20-25%. By contrast, if the same English text were to be translated into Finnish, you can expect your foreign copy to do the opposite, and contract by roughly 30%. Identifying your target markets early on in the process, and gaining an understanding of how your source copy will behave once adapted for those markets, will buy you some buffer at the writing stage – so you can avoid last-minute alterations when it comes to recording.

  • Finding Your Voice

 A consistent and effective tone of voice is essential to any brand’s success. So, when it comes to selecting the voiceover artist(s) to record your campaign, the same diligence is due. The artist you select to record your ad will represent your brand image and values, so it’s well worth setting aside enough time to ensure you find the right fit. Partner with a language service provider (LSP) who can provide a wide range of talents to choose from, and who can offer advice and recommendations of the artists most suited to your messaging and market. And don’t be afraid to ask for demos or samples. 

  • Supply Supervision

Arranging for language supervision (LSV) just might be the most valuable thing you can do for your voiceover project. No matter their level of experience, if this is the first time a VO artist is recording for a particular brand, they will benefit from some guidance on the desired output. Having someone present to advise on pronunciation, style, acronyms, tone and pace, will ensure the recording doesn’t fall short of your expectations. Speak to your LSP to arrange for a native expert to dial into the session and provide an extra pair of well-trained ears. And even if you yourself are not a native speaker of the target language, an in-depth knowledge of the brand’s identity will always prove beneficial – so we strongly recommend that a client representative attends the session whenever possible.

  • Studio Set-up 

Your studio environment is central to the quality of your voiceover recording. So, if your recording is taking place via a remote set-up, it’s wise to carry out a quick test-run between the artist and the studio ahead of the big day to ensure the connection is good to go. You’ll also want to agree the deliverables with the studio engineer in advance – are you happy with raw takes, or do you require polishing? What file format(s) are you after for your audio files? And to be on the safe side, make sure you’re aware of the studio rules around overruns – just in case your voiceover recording takes a little longer than planned.

Did you know, Mother Tongue offers an end-to-end voiceover service, including LSV and studio hire? Get in touch with us to hear how we can help make your brand voice heard. And to read more about media localization, check out our piece on subtitling.

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