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Captions, Closed-Captions, Transcripts, Audio-Descriptions, Descriptive Audios or Descriptive Videos – What are they and when are they legally required?

Posted on February 20th, 2018 by patricia

A growing number of countries and States are requiring that audio-visual materials are made accessible to visually or hearing impaired audiences. Indeed, unless some steps are taken to compensate for their limited access, these audiences will miss out on a large part of the audio-visual content.

For visually impaired audiences, the solution is audio-description, also called descriptive audio or descriptive video.

For hearing impaired audiences, the solutions are captions, closed-captions or transcripts, or sign-language interpreting.

Each of these techniques has various advantages and inconvenient and some of them are legally required for some or all publicly accessible audio-visual material, depending on the location.

First, let’s examine what are each of these technique enabling accessibility to visually or hearing impaired audiences.


Audio-visual accessibility for visually impaired audiencesAccessibility For Visually Impaired Audiences

Audio-description (AKA descriptive audio or descriptive video)

Audio-descriptions are supplementary audio tracks where a narrator describes or contextualizes critical visual information that would be missed out by visually impaired audiences. The audio-description narrator inserts the description during natural pauses in the audio track, or even during the dialogues when the action on screen justifies it.

Audio-description come in 3 formats

  1. Closed Audio-Description (or Closed Caption Audio-Description)
    This requires the audience to take the required action to activate the audio-description. Unless the audio-description is turned on, the audio-visual material will be viewed without it.
  2. Open Audio-Description (or Open Caption Audio-Description)
    This means the audio-description will be broadcasted to all audience, without the option of turning it off.
  3. Real-Time Audio-Description (or Real-Time Caption Audio-Description)
    These are live commentary on live events, such as conferences, theatrical productions or other. The trained audio-describer will narrate the description of the event to headphones provided to the visually impaired audience.

You can access all relevant information on how to train to become an audio-describer on the American Council for the Blind website


audio-visual accessibility for hearing impaired audiencesAccessibility For Hearing Impaired Audiences

Captions, transcripts, or sign-language interpreting

  1. Captions are on-screen texts that transcribe the characters’ dialogue, identify the speakers and describe sounds otherwise inaccessible to hearing-impaired audiences. These captions are synchronized with the video image, enabling viewers to access a close equivalent to the soundtrack. Captions are increasingly relied on by non-hearing impaired audiences to watch audio-visual content in situations where it would be inappropriate to access the soundtrack. As such, they are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, regardless of the legal requirements to add them to audio-visual material.
    There are two types of captions:

    1. Closed Captions: To access closed captions, the viewer is required to physically activate them by clicking on the relevant button or pre-setting a TV or other viewing device to display closed-captions by default.
    2. Open Captions: those are displayed by default to all viewers and cannot be turned off.
  2. Transcripts are a transcription of the monologue, dialogue or multi-speaker discussion taking place in the audio-visual material being transcribed, with or without mention of additional intervening sounds. Though transcription software are becoming increasingly accurate, to date, a clean transcript still requires considerable human editing in order to be intelligible.
    There are 2 types of transcripts:

    1. Indexed Transcripts: These are transcript containing discrete units of time matching the spoken audio occurring during that time. These can be used to generate captions, open or closed.
    2. Non-Indexed Transcripts: These are transcripts of the spoken words transcribed without time reference and are typically provided as an addendum to the audio-visual support, whether displayed below or next to the video, or offered as a separate document.
  3. Sign-Language Interpreting on audio-visual support relies on the skills of a sign-language interpreter that translates the spoken words into sign-language and is embedded in the video stream, typically in a circular, ovoid or square “window” at a bottom corner of the screen.


These are all the accessibility enhancements for audio-visual material currently available and some or all of them are legally required on some or all publicly available audio-visual material. In our next post, we will have a cursory look at which accessibility legal requirements apply to different regions, States and countries.

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When is Choosing a Voice Actor Online the Best Option for Your Project?

Posted on February 6th, 2018 by patricia

Voice Actor OnlineVoice actor online is a profession with increasing competition, thanks to the growing ease of building a home recording studio. This translate into lower costs and thus lower rates.

For one-off, small, low budget projects, with a single actor or maybe two, in a single language, this might indeed be your best option. Yet, when it comes to a larger casts, long-term or to multilingual projects, managing the cast, seamlessly integrating the various voices into the audio support and editing the video when needed are only some of the aspects of the project management.

Indeed, the choice of the appropriate voice actor online is not limited to finding the right voice for your project. You also need to check if the voice actor online is a professional with a quality home studio, provides expert editing for the recording. For long-term projects, you will need to ensure that he or she will still be available for the next recordings as many voice actors online are using their skill as a side job while looking for a full-time position somewhere else.

Please have a look below at our recommendations per type of projects

  1. One off – single voice project in one language
    Definitely opt for selecting a voice actor online.
    Whether you are a creative with an audio or video project requiring a voice or a start-up in need of a recording to spruce up your presentation to potential investors, it makes perfect sense to limit the cost and invest the time to find the best match for your audio-visual project.
  2. One off – two voices project in one language
    This depends partly on your ability to mix the two separate voices from different sources. If you have the resources to that in-house, it is definitely the best option. Otherwise, you should carefully check if at least one of your chosen voice actor online has the technical knowledge to do that, or take into account the added cost of hiring a third party.
  3. Large cast project (3 or more voices) in one language
    Casting a large number of voice actors online is time-consuming and is only the first hurdle of the recording project management. The chances of problems grow exponentially as the number of voices increases. Achieving a quality end result is far more complex than just asking separate voice actor online to record their lines in isolation and then just stick the pieces of recording together. It also consists in ensuring that each of them will be available for correction, that the editor will be in constant contact with the project manager, that every single voice actor online will remain available for correction until the project is completed, that everyone will keep to their allotted schedule and that someone will know how to solve the unavoidable problem, technical or other, that will unavoidably crop up.

Definitely consider getting a quote for your entire project before embarking on such journey

  1. Multilanguage projects
    Managing a recording project in more than one language is not limited to just finding the right voice actor online. Before that comes finding translators who understand the need to adapt the translated text to the timing of the video, yet without detracting from the meaning. Then comes the recording. Then comes adapting the texts on the video that need to also be translated into the target language.
    For this kind of project, your best option is to go to a localization company that also provides voice recording services rather than opt for the voice actor online route.


Feel free to contact us with any question you might have concerning your project.

Voices For Hire vs. Synthetic Voices

Posted on January 23rd, 2018 by patricia

Voices for hireBudget considerations when comparing the cost of synthetic voices and that of voices for hire should always take into consideration the loss of impact (and ensuing revenue) of selecting the cheapest option.

A September 2017 study on The Influence of Synthetic Voice on the Evaluation of a Virtual Character clearly indicates that

“… participants perceived the character as more understandable, expressive and liked their voice more when using the human than the synthetic voice. “

So it might be worthwhile to keep that in mind and trust voices for hire to convey your message rather than opting for synthetic voices.

Especially when considering the 5 major factors enabling the creation of an emotional connection with the talkers, the quality of the voices are crucial in:

  1. Forming an emotional connection
    This is the ultimate goal of any type of communication, whether commercial, educational, political, recreational or any other. An emotional connection adds weight to the content, makes it more memorable, increases the bond to the character and the desire to maintain the connection. Voices for hire matching the message you seek to convey are considerably more effective than a synthetic voice.
    The only way for R2D2, the robot hero of Star Wars, managed to gather such a large stardom is that it is surrounded by actual humans, and its synthetic voice is in constant interplay with human voices, lending it some of their humanity.
  2. Adding personality
    Nobody gets attached to a bland character. People who make a living of letting out their voices for hire typically have a rich register and have honed their tool to be able to successfully impersonate a large cast of characters
  3. Matching your brand or message voice
    Whether you are recording a commercial, a tutorial, an internal communication, a political message or need a voice for your online game character, you know what the voices you are looking for are meant to incarnate. Within the catalog of voices for hire, you will find those with the right timbre and accent to match your need.
  4. Reflecting the sound of your target audience
    The most effective way to connect with your audience is to present a mirror of who they are. Voices for hire are a powerful tool in that respect, as, by matching the tone of your target audience, you will ease them into paying close attention to your message.
  5. Sounding aspirational to your target market
    Every message is composed of both form and content. Whatever your content, availing yourself of the appropriate voice to elicit the trust of your audience is best achieved by relying on a professional voice for hire.


Synthetic voices are certainly very useful in a number of contexts, but they are still unable to achieve any of the 5 points above, so, if you do need to capture your audience attention, increase their retention rate or elicit an emotional response, you should opt for voices for hire to give a voice to your project.

Why you should invest in localizing your video in 2018

Posted on January 7th, 2018 by patricia

Localizing videosThe absolute dominance of English as the Internet dominant language is dwindling fast and an ever-growing percentage of the global population is expecting to be able to access content, written or audio/visual, in their native language.

The combination of the ever increasing penetration rate of Broadband and Internet, reaching out to the most isolated region of the globe, online content, and especially mobile content, is now reaching an ever wider proportion of non-English speakers. In this context, non-English speakers mean people who have no notion of English at all.

Whilst the Internet was initially “reserved” to English speakers, whether as a first or a second language, with 80% of the Internet content in English in the mid 90’s, the percentage of English content was down to a little over 25% by June 2017.

Not only does this mean the English content now has to compete with an ever-widening competing native language original content, it also means that those with a limited mastery of English, who were ready to make the effort of consuming English content because it was the only option, are now relying more and more on content made available to them in their native language.

This means that localizing content into target language is of ever-increasing importance.

When looking at the growing market share of video content that is expected to soar in 2018, taking the different linguistic and cultural specificity of your viewer is now an absolute must!

When your video contains spoken words, localizing in all dominant languages of your target market is a must, lest you risk wasting creative and digital marketing resources in vain. For project including many languages, it is best to trust professional agencies that have the experience in managing multi-language localization projects, already have teams of voice-over talents, video editors, quality controllers etc.

In addition, as today 85% of Facebook videos are seen with the sound off – which reflects a tendency of short video viewing across all platform – adding localized captions to cater for the “silent” listeners will considerably increase your audience viewing time and your rate of return viewers.
Should you need help in localizing your audio/visual content, PerfectVoices provides localization in over 60 languages, from translation to recording and producing captions in target languages, as well as video editing when needed.

The End of  Net Neutrality and the Localization Industry

Posted on December 10th, 2017 by patricia

Net Neutrality Localization IndustryUnless the recent findings about the massive fraudulent comments sent to the FCC result in delaying the vote on Net Neutrality, it is likely that December 14 will be the beginning of the end of Net Neutrality in the USA.

The main concern with lack of net neutrality is of different speed lanes and the effect it will have on startups that do not have the resource to pay for faster lanes. A study, published in September 2016, by Double Click, a Google subsidiary which develops and provides Internet ad serving services, found that slow loading websites frustrate users and this had a negative impact on the content provider. The study showed that websites which load in 5 seconds against 19 seconds witnessed 25% higher ad views, 70% longer average sessions and 35% lower bounce rates. So content providers who are on slower lanes will miss out to rivals who can afford to pay for the faster lanes. Net neutrality provides a level-playing field to content providers and startups.

Or, as defined by Educause:

“Net neutrality” is the term used to describe the concept of keeping the Internet open to all lawful content, information, applications, and equipment. There is increasing concern that the owners of the local broadband connections (usually either the cable or telephone company) may block or discriminate against certain Internet users or applications in order to give an advantage to their own services. While the owners of the local network have a legitimate right to manage traffic on their network to prevent congestion, viruses, and so forth, network owners should not be able to block or degrade traffic based on the identity of the user or the type of application solely to favor their interests.

The boom in localization market growth in the USA is largely linked with online content, and is likely to be directly affected by the end of Net Neutrality, as content providers will have to decide on whether to allocate their online budget to increase their online speed or to localize content.

In view of the prohibitive penalty in terms of viewers retention when upload speed is slowed down, it is likely their priority will go to maintain broadband speed rather than add more languages.

Or maybe, if it matches their business model, they will opt for expanding their outreach towards Europe and other territories that maintain Net Neutrality.

At this stage, it is impossible to properly evaluate how the decision likely to be taken on December 14 will impact the localization market, but if the FCC cancels Net Neutrality, the effects will certainly be felt one way or another in the following months and years.

One of the most talked about potential impact of the end of Net Neutrality is on video streaming speed, and video streaming services, and, as the rise of video consumption has been touted as a major growth engine for localization services in the near future, the localization industry would do well to keep an eye on the domino effect of the upcoming change of legislation.







The Importance of Localizing Your Website AND Speak to Your Customers in Their Native Language

Posted on November 26th, 2017 by patricia

What is localization?

Localizing content is the process of adapting written and spoken material to a specific language or culture, including accents and slang when applicable, so that it seems natural to that particular region. As such, true localization encompasses considerably more than simply translation and comprises language, culture, accent, colloquialisms, customs, regional traditions and other characteristics of the targeted region.

Whilst the advent of Internet has opened the gates of international markets and created a shared platform for expression, communication, and collaboration, it has not, as of today, completely overcome the language barrier.

Can You Rely on Automated Translation?

Whilst tools such as Google Translate are improving all the time, they still are far away from giving a translation that mimics natural regional languages and guesswork is still involved in understanding the nuances – and sometimes actual meaning – of the translation.

When it comes to the spoken word, as in podcasts or videos, automation still has a long time to go. Even something seemingly as simple as transcribing the spoken text (try turning any YouTube video captions on) is still fraught with misunderstandings. Though these might occasionally generate bursts of laughter, in general, they simply detract from the experience of watching the video. Expecting robotic voices to approach natural language flow anytime soon is unrealistic.

So, especially when relying on spoken words, making information available in other languages and taking cultural differences into account requires human intervention at multiple levels.  Good planning and execution are in no small part enhanced by relying on stable and experienced service providers at every stage of the process.

Should You Invest in Localization?

That entirely depends on your goals. If you intend to maximize your growth, keeping an eye of future markets is essential, as well as devising proper strategies to make the most of capturing significant shares of these new markets as they come into existence.


With the share of online buying set to jump from 58.3%  in 2016 to 65.2%  in 2021 (1.), ensuring proper localization of all online material will play a critical role in maintaining a competitive advantage and attract the newcomers to online shopping. This applies both for B2B and for B2C.

As such, it is crucial to be ready to localize all content, written, audio and audio-visual, into the leading target languages (3.). In addition, keeping an eye on the local distribution of future consumers, born out of the changing landscape of emerging middle class in urban and semi-urban areas (2.) in emerging countries is paramount when devising an effective localization strategy.


  1. Digital Buyer penetration worldwide from 2016 to 2021
  2. Global Growth, local roots: the shift towards emerging markets 
  3. Top 10 High Demand Business Languages

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Selecting a Narrator’s Voice – Male or Female

Posted on September 24th, 2017 by patricia

Narrator's voiceThe number of types of recording requiring a narrator’s voice keeps growing to encompass all but not only the following fields:


  • Animation
  • Announcements
  • Advertisements
  • Audiobook
  • Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR)
  • Biography
  • Corporate (Industrial)
  • Documentary & News
  • eLearning & Education
  • Sport & Exercise
  • Government & Official Communications
  • Inspiration, Relaxation & Meditation
  • Internet & Website
  • Kids, Young Adults & Adult Games
  • Medical & Pharmaceutical
  • Political
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Telephony
  • Museum & Tours
  • Instructions & How to Use


All these projects rely on professional voice-over artists. The narrator’s voice is cardinal to ensure that the message will be perceived by the audience in the intended way. A narrator’s voice has a number of unique elements: gender, register, pitch, timber, age, amplitude.

A professional voice-over narrator can work on his voice to expand his register and amplitude or to improve its pitch and timber. However, gender is a given.

The voiced speech of a typical adult male will have a fundamental frequency from 85 to 180 Hz. That of a typical adult female from 165 to 255 Hz. Thus, the fundamental frequency of most speech falls below the bottom of the “voice frequency” band as defined above.

Pitch is an integral part of the human voice. The pitch of the voice is defined as the “rate of vibration of the vocal folds”.  This explains why women generally have higher voices than men do. Women tend to have higher voices because they have shorter vocal cords.

As a result, aside from extremely rare exceptions, a male narrator’s voice impersonating a woman will sound off, and vice-versa.

Yet, these technical elements are not the central issue when deciding whether to select a male or a female narrator’s voice.

narrator's voice - male or femaleWhen deciding the most appropriate gender of the narrator’s voice, cultural bias need to be taken into account.

These vary from region to region, so, unless you are familiar with the cultural preferences of your target market, check with your narrator voice service provider what is the optimal gender choice of a narrator’s voice.

Even within the Western Anglo-Saxon world, cultural preferences vary. The best example is Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual “assistant”. When made available to the public, Siri’s first narrator’s voice was female in the US and 4 other countries, but male in the UK.

In the US, the logic behind selecting a female narrator’s voice for Siri relies partly on scientific studies that have shown that people generally find women’s voices more pleasing than men’s.

According to Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, “It’s a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices.” As a result, “it’s much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone like.” Nass quotes a research that suggests this preference starts as early as the womb, citing a study in which fetuses were found to react to the sound of their mother’s voice but not to other female voices, but showed no distinct reaction to their father’s voice.

Nass quotes a research that suggests this preference starts as early as the womb, citing a study in which fetuses were found to react to the sound of their mother’s voice but not to other female voices, but showed no distinct reaction to their father’s voice.

Another element behind the choice of a female narrator’s voice for Siri lies in history. As women were old-school telephone operators and pilots were given instructions by female voices in the cockpit to distinguish instructions from the men operating the plane, people got accustomed to receiving assistance from a disembodied woman’s voice.

Narrator's Voice - GenderOn a cultural, the first AI to achieve stardom on screen was HAL, the robot that went rogue in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey created HAL, which gave male robot voices a bad name.

However, the fiasco female-voiced navigation system on its 5 Series cars in the late 1990s underlines the power of local cultural stereotype. Despite the overwhelming majority of default female voice for navigation systems, Germans were so outraged by having to take direction from a woman when driving that they inundated BMW with angry calls.

In advertising, though, different stereotypes apply. A study in The Journal of Advertising looked at the effect of using male and female voices in commercials. It indicated that, whilst the narrator’s voice gender didn’t matter for products that were neutral or geared toward males, it mattered a great deal for female-oriented products.

So, though a female narrator’s voice may effectively promote tanks or heavy-duty hardware, a male narrator’s voice would be ineffective for promoting cosmetics or feminine hygiene products.

For eLearning projects, though the choice of the gender for the narrator’s voice seems to have little impact, the general criterion for choosing a male or female narrator’s voice is to match the dominant gender of the audience.

As you can see, there is no one fits all answer to the question: “Male or Female Narrator’s Voice?”
Contact us if you need advice about what voice would be best for your project.


The 7 secrets of writing winning voice over script

Posted on September 13th, 2017 by patricia

Voice over script If your voice over artist is taking twice the estimated recording session time and struggles through delivering the lines, it might be partly because of the voice over script and the way it is written. To achieve effective scriptwriting, whether for voice over recording or for speeches, there are a few rules to follow. Adhering to these scriptwriting rules will improve the quality of your script, its deliverability, its attraction and can even save you a bundle in optimizing voice over recording and editing time.


So, without further ado, here are the XX cardinal rules for effective voice over scriptwriting.



  1. Write the way you speakKeep in mind that your audience will not be reading your script but listen to it. Though it will be recorded by a voice over artist, it is the scriptwriter that gives the audio its personality and dictates its tone. A nice trick to find the right tone when scriptwriting is to picture yourself talking to your target audience in a setting similar to the script setting and write the way you would speak in the situation.
  2. Keep your sentences shortWhen reading your voice over script, the VO artist will have to breathe. Typically, breathing in mid-sentence breaks the flow and long sentences need to be few and far between, or, even better, altogether absent.
    Just try and read the last sentence above out loud. Can you feel the difficulty on inserting proper breathing spaces? Now try the last two sentences. Much easier…
    When narrating your script, the voice over artist will thank you for thinking about his breathing so he doesn’t have to and can focus on optimal delivery and intonation.
    Tips to achieve that:

    1. Keep one thought per sentence
    2. Use shorter words
    3. Write contracted forms – i.e. “you’re” instead of “you are”, “doesn’t” instead of “does not” etc.
    4. Cut out any verbosity
    5. Break sentences in two or even three wherever possible
  3. Use transition words accuratelyTransitions words such as “yet”, “but”, “however,” “therefore,” or “meanwhile” are cardinal to ensure optimal understanding. As your audience is not in a position to read back, using these transition words accurately ensures they are able to follow the flow of your thoughts without efforts.
  4. Optimize the use of silenceSilences are the equivalent of “white space” in writing.
    A written text is structured with titles, subtitles, paragraphs, bullet points and a number of visual cues. This enables the reader to adapt his reading pattern to the writer’s intended flow of information. It indicates where to let the mind rest between two separate blocks of thoughts.
    When words are spoken, silences also indicate where the mind can rest. Professional VO artists are well trained in translation punctuation into brief silences. Yet, adding an occasional ellipsis (…) to emphasize the need for a slightly longer silence does wonder to optimize the VO artist delivery.
  5. Indicate pausesPauses are not the same as silences. When writing a voice over script, pauses should be indicated clearly in all letters between brackets i.e.[pause].
    Pauses have a number of functions. They help the audience understand you, they convey emotions, they control the overall pace of the delivery, they help to engage the audience, they advantageously replace filler words.
    Clearly indicating to the voice over narrator where and when to pause is invaluable in ensuring that the voice over rendition will be as close as possible to what was intended when composing the voice over script.
    Here is a handy guide of the different kind of pauses and how to use them
  6. Include specific instruction about proper pronunciationIn addition to the voice over script, include a separate file with instructions about how to pronounce
    1. places or people’s names – ideally, for uncommon names of places, people, monument or unfamiliar terms – Ideally, these should be sent in a separate audio file with the preferred pronunciation
    2. acronyms –for example, MRIf is usually pronounced functional M R I but is a field specific expression likely to be unfamiliar to a voice over artist.
    3. numbers: 370 should it be pronounced as three hundred and seventy, three-seventy, three-seven-zero, three-seven-O
    4. Dates: 1850 should it be pronounced eighteen fifty, or one thousand eight hundred and fifty
    5. Time: 2.30 should it be pronounced two thirty or half past two
  7. Read the voice over script out loudThis has many advantages. It will enable you to:
    1. Get a better idea of what your writing sounds like
    2. Identify tongue twisters
    3. Get a feel for the optimal pauses placement
    4. Spot sentences that need to be cut in two
    5. Spot misspelled words missed by the spell-check
    6. Spot word that can lead to confusion when spoken (i.e. “can’t”, sounds like “can” which might lead to misunderstanding)
    7. Evaluate if the text is boring and adapt accordingly

Keep editing and reading out loud until you are satisfied with the result and then time the last read, pacing yourself
Once the final version is ready, make sure you format it properly.

That is:

  • Print black on white – higher contrast between paper and font maximizes the ease of reading
  • Print double space – this makes the text more readable and leaves room for annotations
  • Prefer with a common font constantly throughout the script – as a rule, serif fonts are deemed best for voice over script
  • Using both upper and lower cases (i.e., not in all caps and with proper capitalization)
  • Stay clear of justified text – justified text extend the space between words which complicates the reading flow for the voice over artist
  • Keep the lines of moderate length (about 65 characters maximum is common. Long lines are more difficult to read for the voice artist)
  • Avoid awkward line breaks
  • Keep margins equal on both sides
  • Add “continued” at the end of each but the final page of the script


All done!


Now, just send both a .word and PDF version of your script to the voice over talent or the agency. The PDF version will ensure that they receive your script exactly in the format you intended, and the .word version will give them the possibility to adapt the text to fit tools they might be working with, or add annotations.






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Voice-Over Localization from English or Other Languages

Posted on September 3rd, 2017 by patricia

Asking for a voice-over localization from English – or, actually, any other language, – source material into one or more target languages may seem like a simple and straightforward process. Just select the voices, send the material and ask to receive it back neatly translated.

Yet, there are a few other elements that need to be taken into consideration and clearly agreed upon beforehand.

  1. Define your voice-over localization priorities given the problems arising from language expansion or language contraction?

Though any language is a communication tool, every language has its own particularities and some are wordier than others. For instance, German is approximately 30% longer than English whilst Danish is about 10% shorter. Whether the text expands or contracts because of grammar, syntax, word usage, terminology or sentence structure, the end result remains that the original and target language text will not have the same length. This will have immediate consequences on voice-over localization, from English or any other source language. The relative impact will be different if you request a “wild” translation or an STC (Strict Time Constraint) translation.

A “wild” translation, for which the voice-over artist will act or narrate at a natural pace – for which the voice-over recording will be fitted into the video at the post-production stage, or a STC recording for which the voice-over artists have to slow down or speed up their delivery to match the timing of the video.

Aside from the quality of the delivery, the choice you make will have an influence on the translation, as a translation for an STC voice-over localization will privilege matching the length of the original text and the length of the translation for voice-over localization over being an exact translation.

So, better consult a conversion table such as the one below to evaluate the level of time disparity between source and target language of your voice-over localization project. In some cases, the table will not help you, and not only because it was created for voice-over localization from English or into English, but also because some language combinations have variable expansion and retraction rates depending on topic, style or any other number of cultural, grammatical or historical reason. In these case, it is always better to ask your language service provider for more clarifications.

Voice-over localization from English and into English Expansion Rate Table

Voice-over localization from English and into English Expansion Rate Table

  1. Make sure the target language is precisely specified

A common oversight when requesting a voice-over localization from English or another language into a target language spoken in different areas of the world is to omit to specify which version of the target language is the preferred one.

Spanish, for example, is spoken in Spain and in various countries in South America. The way to indicate that you prefer South American Spanish is to specify you are looking for a LATAM Spanish translation. However, if you are targeting a specific country in Spanish speaking South America, it is best to indicate exactly in which country is the target audience. Local expressions in Venezuela and Argentina for example, though both falling under the general umbrella of Latam Spanish, do vary. Defining your target audience precisely will enable your project manager to select the best translator who will then be able to give the localized version a local flavor that will increase its appeal to the target audience.

The same applies to Portuguese, which is close but differs from Brazilian Portuguese.  For voice-over localization into Arabic, there are a large number of elements to take into consideration.

  1. The choice of your translator for your voice-over localization from English or other languages

Voice-over localization from English find the right translatorNot every translator, even brilliant ones, have honed the particular skills needed for voice-over localization translators. Re-versioning a voice-over script for a foreign market requires the ability to successfully transpose humor, idiomatic phrases and cultural nuances whilst remaining within the time constraint dictated by the flow of the original version.

There are also budgetary constraints to take into account. It is always better to translate from the original language directly into the target language. However, when your source material is in an uncommon language and you want to localize it into a large number of target languages, it might be a budgetary sensible decision to base the international localization on an English translation of the original.

A translation from English into Turkish would be far more affordable than one from Tagalog into Turkish, for example. When dealing with a large number of target languages, the impact on the budget is significant. Yet, unavoidably, it would lead to some loss in the quality of the translation in the target language.

  1. Selecting the proper voice-over artist

It might be tempting to select a voice close to the voice of the original locator when you are in the process of selecting a voice-over artist. However, this might prove to be a fatal mistake as cultural prejudices regarding voice tone and pitch vary across the globe.

You can find some elements of cultural preferences in voice types in this article about how to select the right voice-over artist, but we recommend that, unless you have a deep understanding of the peculiarities of the target language speakers cultural nuances, you ask your voice-over localization service provider for guidance.


So, here we are. These are the main hurdles you may encounter when looking for voice-over localization from English or other languages. There are quite a few more, but those should not concern you if you trust an experienced voice-over localization service provider to manage your project.




Localization or Translation, Globalization or Internationalization – which service do you need?

Posted on August 27th, 2017 by patricia

localization or translationWhenever your company seeks to expand into a territory, it needs to think about adapting its content into the language of the target market. So, what should you choose, localization or translation? The answer is, probably a bit of both. The secret to successfully adapt your content to the target market language is to fully understand when you need which.

And for that, it is critical to fully integrate the subtle difference between those two, similar but not interchangeable, terms.

Let’s begin by defining the term translation

A translation, basically, is the process of translating – surprise, surprise – a text from one language into another. Yet, narrowing it down to such a general definition is misleading. A translation is supposed to stick to the original as closely as possible, leaving no room for either creativity or any consideration for the cultural impact a literal translation might have on the target market.

As such, when expanding into a foreign market, it is best to limit the realm of translation to scientific, corporate and legal documents. This applies both for expanding into one single foreign country and whether you are opting for globalization or internationalization.

For all marketing relating support, though, you should definitely consider localization.

As opposed to translation, which is focused on translating words, localization considers the cultural context and “translates” the meaning and desired effect rather than the exact original wording. Furthermore, localization includes taking into account any visual support as well as choosing a voice which the appropriate cultural referent to best convey the desired message. This means it can include tasks as varied as adapting graphics to suit target consumers; modifying content to fit the tastes and consumption habits of the target consumer; converting content attributes to local requirements; adjusting design and layout to fit translated content; adapting local formats for addresses, measures, currency, phone numbers, dates and hours; substituting music tracks with ones more palatable to the local target market and so forth.  Localization also includes modifications necessary to ensure that the localized material is fully compliant with local regulations.

So, now that the choice between localization and translation for one target market is clarified, let’s consider the concept of internationalization, where the target markets are a number of countries instead of a single one.

Localization or translationWhen talking about internationalization, it needs to be taken into account from the beginning. This means that it needs to be included from the beginning of the process of designing and developing a website, product, application or game so that they can easily be localized for targeted markets which may differ in terms of region, language or culture.
This preliminary step will greatly simplify the use of automated translation prior to localization.

It also ensures consistency in the translation where different translations for the same terms are possible. In case of medical, technical or scientific translation this is critical. It also plays a cardinal role when localizing games for the international market as consistency across all versions of the game are crucial to ensure continuity.

Globalization is not, as of today, a term used to define any kind of translation process, but refers to the trend of business to interconnect across borders, and to the same happening between individuals across the globe, regardless of distances, cultural barriers, creed difference etc.
In the case of individuals, the do indeed benefit greatly from the ease of access to online translating tools such as those available on Facebook or Google translate to name the main ones. Unfortunately for businesses, the quality of these translations is still limited at best, and it might be decades before it reaches a level matching the minimal request for international businesses.

So, if you were ever wondering what to choose from, localization or translation, globalization or internationalization, here is a short summary. Internationalization is a preliminary step taken by businesses from the very beginning, translations will have to be done in any case and localization is geared to all part of the material that will be in direct contact with the target market public.




Dos & Don’ts When Localizing Into Arabic

Posted on August 20th, 2017 by patricia

For non-Arabic speakers, it is tempting to think that to translate any document or audio-visual support into Arabic is a straightforward proposition. Simply ask to localize into Arabic and there you go, any competent translator into Arabic will provide you with a perfect Arabic translation of your original.

This might be true if you are aiming for a translation into Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic can be written and spoken, with no discernable differences between the two, and is commonly used as the Arabic Lingua Franca across the Arab world. It is based on Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran, a version of Arabic that was the language used for all scholarly, administrative, cultural or religious purposes during the Caliphate Era.

Today, Modern Standard Arabic is used for books, newspapers, official documents, business correspondence, street and shop signs etc., albeit not for religious purposes, though it might be used in religious assemblies or for Friday sermons for example. There is no local version of Modern Standard Arabic, which means that localizing into Arabic should be really simple.

However, as with everything in the Middle East, what appears simple at first glance actually hides a myriad of details that will considerably complicate things once you get specific.

So, although you can actually speak Modern Standard Arabic across the Arab speaking world, and Arab speakers commonly do in international gathering to avoid ambiguities and misunderstandings that could otherwise stem from dialectical differences, Modern Standard Arabic, even when spoken, is not at all the same as Spoken Arabic.

Spoken Arabic differs from Modern Standard Arabic in grammatical structure, some letters’ pronunciation, local expressions or words, it’s more casual style and the inclusion of slang.

And that is when localizing into Arabic becomes complicated. When localizing into Spoken Arabic, the dialect of the target audience has to be taken into account. Broadly speaking, there are 9 main dialect groups schematically divided as follows

  • North African Arabic (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya),
  • Hassaniya Arabic (Mauritania),
  • Egyptian Arabic,
  • Levantine Arabic (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine),
  • Iraqi Arabic,
  • Gulf Arabic (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Oman).
  • Hejazi Arabic (Western Saudi Arabia)
  • Najdi Arabic (Central Saudi Arabia).
  • Yemeni Arabic (Yemen & southwestern Saudi Arabia).

Though speakers of Egyptian, Levantine, Iraqi and Gulf Arabic are likely to understand each other without major problems, they might struggle to follow a conversation in any version of North African dialects are their structure and vocabulary are more unique. This is particularly true for Moroccan and Algerian Arabic. Of course, as for all languages, each of these dialects will be divided into regional sub-dialects, accents and colloquialisms.

Thanks to Egypt’s prolific media production, with numerous movies, dramas, comedies and TV series, Egyptian Arabic is widely understood across the Arab speaking world regardless of their local dialect, but that does not mean that localizing audio or audiovisual material into Arabic should necessarily be in Egyptian Arabic, far from it, as it would detract from identification by your targeted audience and lack the personalized connection inherent to local language.

So, whenever you think about localizing into Arabic, it is always best to consult a specialist and clearly state not only what is the target region, but also what is the aim of the material to be translated. Only with a clear understanding of the target audience geographical location and of the purpose of the material will a specialist be able to advise you adequately about which Arabic is suitable for your project.


How to Select a Voice Over Artist for Your Brand

Posted on August 15th, 2017 by patricia

Voice-Over-ArtistWhether you are a large corporation or a small business on its way to become a large corporation, the Voice Over Artist you pick up to incarnate your brand is a crucial element in your marketing strategy.

The right Voice Over Artist will create an emotional, profound and lasting connection between your brand and your customers. Below are 6 tips to help you select the perfect voice over artist for your brand.


  1. Identify what are the emotions associated with your brand and list them

    The specific emotional impact of your brand will depend on the products you are representing. For example, if your company is developing medical solutions, you will be wanting to project a combination of competence, efficiency, and compassion for the patients. On the contrary, if your company focuses on fashion for trendy teenagers, you will be looking for a hip, enthusiastic voice or voices, probably with a sexy tang to it.

  2. Opt for a male or female voice over artist

    Now, this is a difficult decision to make. A relatively reliable rule of thumb is to select the gender of your voice over to match the gender of the largest section of your customers. In other words, best choose a male voice over artist if the majority of your customers are guys and a female voice over artist if the largest segment of your customers is composed of women or girls.
    In some cases though, there are no such clear cut definers, which is when it becomes important to assess the values typically associated with gendered voices and how those fit with your products.
    “Men’s voices are associated with neutrality, with authoritative, factual information,” explains Arthur Chu, a Cleveland-based artist who’s done voice-over work for brands like Safeway and Intel. “The voiceover you want for some kind of authoritative instructional video, or something asserting dry historical fact, is going to be that baritone, somewhat monotone, slightly stern voice.”
    This means that for products related to technology or highly mechanical products, a male voice over artist would be a logical choice unless you are looking to achieve some paradoxical effect.
    Female voices typically carry more intimate, warm, comforting and emotional overtones. For more detailed information, we highly recommend these researches by  Phil McAleer or the University of Sheffield study or the 2010 Harris Interactive poll, as the gut reaction to voices evolves far slower than technology .

  3. Check the portfolio of the voice over artists you preselected

A professional voice over artist should be in a position to provide you with a selection of excerpts of previous works. This will give you the opportunity to both hear the voice over artist’s performance for previous clients and, if applicable, see if the target audience corresponding to these recording matches your market.

  1. Run some tests with your target demographic

    The importance of these test will largely depend on the intended reach of your campaign. The largest the reach, the most thorough the pre-recording tests. These tests should aim both at selecting the voice over artist, or artists if necessary and at determining if a storytelling or a presenting style is most effective.

  2. Beware of the accent

    Whilst a neutral American or British English might be appropriate for a large audience, it might be preferable to choose a local accent either to create a stronger identification with a local target audience, or to create a strong connection between a local product and the surrounding folklore.

  3. Think long term

    Your brand is meant to last for a long time, and so should its voice. When selecting the voice over artist who will be the voice of your brand, it is essential to ensure that your short-list includes only professional voice-over artists, as there are many dilettantes monetizing their voices whilst waiting for a “real job” and those will turn down further recording as their new full-time job will not enable them the necessary time to go to the studio for the recording sessions.

These are the main elements in selecting a voice over artist for your corporate communications. To ensure both professionalism and continuity, you should opt for a professional recording studio. Not only will those have a rich catalog of voice over artists who they work with regularly and who they can vouch for, they will also supervise the recording, edit the video to incorporate the voice and adapt the written material included in the video as well.