SDL sm Globalizing Videos PT6 blog 620x300

Part 6: Choosing the Right Voice-over Talent

I am a big fan of the cartoon series Archer. It is about a typical super spy (think James Bond, but even more so). Archer’s voice perfectly matches what you would expect the character to sound like. Deep voice, confident, even slightly cocky. Here are the pictures of the character, the model for the character and the actor who provides the voice for the character:

In animation, the voice actor is chosen based on what the casting director feels this character should sound like. The voice is the important thing – it doesn’t matter what the actor looks like – but the voice should always resonate with the audience and listener.

The same is true when you need to dub a voice for a character in a different language but it is a little more complicated since a voice for the character already exists in the native language video. So how do you choose the voices? Should you try and match the voice of the original voice talent, or do you try to anticipate what that character type should sound like for the culture the video will be released in?

SDL has a process to help you choose the right locale-specific voice talent. When you decide to localize a video, you will be assigned a Project Manager who specializes in media. The Project Manager will work with you to make sure the right voice talent is chosen. For example, if it is a support video with a person explaining how to assemble the product, you probably just need a good voice that the audience in your target market can follow. If it is a HR video where there is a demonstration of a certain type of behavior you want employees to avoid, you might need a more assertive voice actor or one with acting talent to play a specific character, such as the office gossip. And if you are localizing a game, then you need an actor with a voice that has characteristics similar to the voice of the actor that originated the part, but with the target country in mind.

Voice actors from across the world have provided samples of their work to SDL and our partner organizations. These samples are all kept in voice libraries. The Project Manager goes to the library and selects two to four voice samples (think of them as auditions) for you to choose from.

For more sophisticated jobs (like the game example mentioned above), SDL would have the voice actors selected audition with a custom script related to your project. This way you can hear the voice in the context of your content, rather than a generic audition. Regardless of the project, you will be involved with the selection of the voice talent and see iterations of the video before it goes final. The process can be as simple or as sophisticated as your needs and budget require.

And your Project Manager will help you with other questions, such as do you want simple dubbing, phrase dubbing or lip syncing. Your Project Manager will provide the expertise to ensure you get the right result for you localized video, which is that your video will be a valuable asset in your new market. Because, who knows, a super spy may have a very different-sounding voice at the South Pole – but it all needs to resonate.

Missed my previous blogs? Read Part 1: Introduction to Globalizing Your VideosPart 2: Are Your Videos Ready for Localization, Part 3: Subtitling Doesn’t Mean Subpar, Part 4: The Importance of Voice, or Part 5: Reaching the Right Audience with Voice. Also don’t forget to visit SDL Rich Media Production Services to learn more.