Foreign Language Voice-overs & Subtitles

Pacific International Translations is experienced at translating audio scripts for subsequent voicing in most of our 80+ translation languages. We are also able to provide experienced voice artists to record translated scripts in most major languages.

We are accustomed to translating scripts of all types and subject matter. This includes those of a technical nature – see our business translation service offering for further information.

The extra translation step in a script translation

Foreign Language Voice-overs & SubtitlesTranslations of scripts that are to be recorded require an additional step to the translation of other texts. This is because the foreign language script not only has to be an accurate translation and well worded, but each sentence/section of it must be able to be comfortably read by the voice artist in the time available for it on the video.

Most translations end up longer than the text they have been translated from. Therefore some degree of editing back of the foreign language script by the translator is almost always required.

The translator will do this by working from a timed English script. He/she will match the length of each section of the translation with the number of seconds allowed for it on the video. As a final check, the translation will be physically read out against the original video to confirm the timings.

Foreign Language Voice-overs - project methodology

This is the process we use for a voice over project:
  1. the script is translated into the foreign language
  2. the length of each section of the translation is compared to the available space and edited as necessary to fit
  3. a second translator reviews the translated script to confirm timings, translation accuracy and quality of expression
  4. the script is voiced by an experienced voice artist in the studio

To obtain a quote for a voice over project

E-mail us the following:

  • your original English script if you have it, ideally timed (showing the number of seconds for each spoken segment)
  • a link to your English video
  • the languages(s) or dialect(s) required
  • when and where the recording is to take place
  • your contact details, including a phone number

Alternatively, phone us to discuss.

Voice over quotes can generally be provided within two hours.

Foreign Language Subtitles

Subtitling is a specialised skill.

All languages have accepted guidelines on how many letters or characters a line of subtitle text can contain, and how many seconds each block of text needs to be displayed on screen.

If these guidelines aren’t followed, the viewer will likely struggle to read the subtitles in the time they are displayed. Or if there is time to read them, he/she won’t have sufficient additional time to fully take in what is happening in the video itself. The video therefore won’t have the anticipated impact in that language.

The subtitling translation challenge

It is therefore essential subtitles conform to the accepted guidelines. However there is a difficulty in that we speak faster than we read. This means the text spoken in the video is invariably longer than can fit into subtitles. The script therefore needs to be shortened, generally quite considerably. This is the translator’s challenge, and the reason why good subtitles use very simple language and short words.

This makes subtitling a difficult art and one relatively few translators are experienced and therefore good at. It takes training, experience, and generally multiple re-workings to get an optimal result.

We have solid experience in providing subtitles in several languages. Each project needs to be assessed and priced individually, so please contact us to discuss a project or obtain a quote.

The 2 keys to a successful voice-over project
1. Confirm script timings

It is essential the translator ensures each section of the translated script can be comfortably read by the voice artist in the time available. Any segment that is too long will cause problems in the studio. The artist will either have to read faster or try to edit the text under time pressure. And of course the artist may not be skilled at editing text. Either action can result in a poor foreign language version of the video.

2. Use experienced voice talent

Novice readers should not be used. The first time for someone in a studio is often a daunting proposition. Any reader nervousness will affect the quality of the read. The voice artist must be up to the task, and there is no substitute for experience.

Voice-over pricing guidelines
Translation component

Standard translation rates + 25 - 50%.
The higher rate is due to the additional step needed of ensuring each text segment can be comfortably read within the video time constraints.

Voice artist

Based on the length of the video. Guidelines:
5 min video: $325
10 mins: $575
30 mins: $1075

Rates stated are subject to GST.