Translation, Voice-over and Audio Post-Production
To promote OnStar’s functionality, Opel produced a series of online clips in conjunction with Deeper Blue, to promote the software’s various features.
The original clips were recorded in English and Deeper Blue approached VSI, as Opel required the promos to be professionally re-voiced into new languages, so the campaign could be utilised beyond English-speaking territories.
In total, there were nine clips of approximately one minute in duration, each voiced with two male voices and one female.
The initial requirement was for four languages to be localised, after which VSI were informed there would be more to follow.
The translation was, as it is for all foreign voice-over jobs, an integral part of the process.
As well as the creative aspect of translating marketing copy in this assignment, there was a significant technical element present to the translation, as a result of its verbal delivery.
Translations can vary in length quite considerably across different languages, as structurally, they require more words to deliver the same message. And some languages, such as German, for example, generally utilise longer words in day-to-day vocabulary. With VO recordings, however, the length of the clip is often fixed, so each line must accurately mirror the action on screen. The linguist must, therefore, ensure the phrases delivered in the translation are close to the spoken length of the original versions. To help with this process, it is essential that a timed script is provided to the translator, who can then match each translated phrase, line by line, with its source. The script is then proofread by a separate linguist to ensure accurate translations, adherence to the brief and correct timing.
Choosing the right voice also makes a huge difference. The voice-over department has built up a wide selection of voices based in London, which enables us to meet even the most challenging of briefs, and it’s very rare that clients are not happy with the selection we have available. However, when this does occur, we have the ability to source in-territory voices via our studios abroad, and record remotely, or utilise the in-house Vendor Management team to source new voices based in London.
For this project, we worked closely with Deeper Blue to ensure that the actors who were cast met their specifications. We sent over a number of voice samples for each language to ensure that each voice’s range could be fully appreciated, and to demonstrate their consistency across a variety of previous work. When we send over voice samples to a client, we also ensure that we include their recording rate. Whilst all of the voice artists VSI works with are established professionals, their price can vary quite considerably depending on their level of experience, availability and the profile of the previous projects they have worked on.
In addition to the voice-over artist, a language director was also selected for Deeper Blue's recordings. Their role was to make sure that everything was recorded as scripted, and the voice’s performance closely matched the client brief. It is very important, particularly when dealing with technical terms, that actors pronounce each word correctly, and that any brand-related taglines or phrases are delivered consistently.
It would be futile, when creating a high-quality, localised version for the client, if we could not deliver the project by the agreed timeline, so it was equally important that the project ran on schedule.
At VSI, we run projects based on core project management principles, refined by the practical experience of delivering voice-over projects for close to three decades, which allows us to pre-empt where delays, difficulties or bottle necks may occur.
Each project is not embarked upon until a clear project plan with key milestones is agreed upon, and throughout the project, a Gantt chart is used to monitor progress and track resources. We communicated regularly with Deeper Blue throughout the project, sending regular updates and logging feedback at every critical stage.
Making changes and adaptations, such as altering the script or adding additional languages, will not only set back projects in terms of timing, but also in terms of cost. Deeper Blue did not require any changes during this project. However, we always ensure that our clients are made aware of any changes and that they sign off on them.
Once the recordings were completed, the audio files were edited and mixed by the same engineer to ensure consistency, before a final export file was created according to Deeper Blue’s specifications. Security is absolutely paramount, so the final files were then sent over via secure transfer.
Deeper Blue and Opel were both very happy with the final result, and have continued to choose VSI for new localisation assignments.