Timing Translations To Match A Video's
English Can Be A Challenge - What To Do?
March 26, 2012
By Jamie Zubairi
Do video production companies take into account the foreign markets when making their videos?
Iíve been doing voice overs now for nearly seven years, and am getting to notice things about foreign voice overs in particular. I speak Bahasa, which is a language spoken in Malaysia and Indonesia and, with the current economic interest in the region, there is a growing interest about investing in the oil and gas industries as well as manufacturing.
With this investment comes job, with jobs comes regulations and training. With that, comes e-Learning and instructional videos.
I have so far been involved in the translation and voicing of about 20 Bahasa Health & Safety and "how-toĒ videos for the airline industry, oil and gas, and manufacturing industries. Some are incredibly easy to voice, especially when it falls into the e-Learning category and there isnít any video to sync to.
TRANSLATE & VOICE IT ...
The problems arise when there is already an existing video, voiced usually in English, and all Iím given is the time code to fit in the translation.
Often Iím left frustrated and tearing my hair out as a simple sentence in English will sometimes be almost a third longer when in Bahasa.
I wonder if production companies ever take this into account when they know their client will be using their video for the worldwide market. Itís something to consider. Iím sure itís the same case in Standard German with their portmanteau words.
FOR EXAMPLE ...
In Bahasa, almost every consonant is followed by a vowel. For example:
Thereís something in the air tonight = Ada sesuatu di udara malam ini.That might look like a sentence of similar length, but consider that the English has 8 syllables and the Bahasa (in this case Malay) has 13 syllables. Fitting the amount of syllables within the start and end of a particular time code starts to make the sentence sound ridiculous.
The viewer will be have to first get over the hurdle of how ridiculous it sounds before they can start actually taking in the information, which may be about airline safety or toxic gases.
INCREASES TIME AND COST ...
When I am translating for voice over I am always aware that someone is going to have to speak this at some point (often me), so the translation should match the length of the English.
Iím often in vocal booths editing words out of someone elseís hard work in order to fit the clientís specification. Which increases my time in the booth as well as my fee and the cost to the whole production.
And to complicate the situation, the voice over client often has the video production company as the client, so thereís nothing the sound engineer can do.
LONGER EDITS HELP
I would love a situation where production companies producing the video made a slightly longer edit for the foreign markets their clients are selling to.
It would help the voice doing the work as well as the person having to take the information in.
What is the point of sitting your workers in front of a Health & Safety video if they canít take it seriously and, by extension, feel that they are not being taken seriously by their employers?
Jamie Zubairi is one of the few completely bilingual English- and Malay-speaking voice actors in the United Kingdom. An actor, an artist-painter, poet, theatre-maker, blogger, Balinese dancer and photographer (and a part-time short-order chef!) he's voiced station idents for Al-Jazeera and read short stories for the BBC and Oxford University Press, as well as many corporate training and e-learning courses. He is currently working on his second solo play while redeveloping his first play with a live gamelan orchestra.
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success