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Written by Steven Bussey
on July 08, 2020

When thinking of expanding your media content to international markets, it’s easy to overlook the complexity of audio localization and subtitling in the flurry of translating your content. While most would think that this simply amounts to replacing spoken audio with a translated version, or adding timed lines of text at the bottom of the screen, there are many factors that go towards quality audio localization and subtitling efforts. Below, we list the ins and outs of this topic, as well as what you should keep in mind when undertaking your next localization project.


Preparing the audio script

Audio localization is the process of adapting sound content for a new market. An audio script is used by voiceover talents and audio editors when recording this sound content. As such, this is the crucial starting point where many things have the potential to go wrong.

To begin with, the studio you work with should provide you with an audio script template demonstrating their preferred format. The script should contain information regarding the name of each audio clip, the transcribed sound content, as well as any relevant pronunciations or special notes. Once this is all approved, it should then be translated into the target language.

Localization efforts also benefit from including timestamps in the script since timing the audio is an essential factor, especially when it is to run alongside video content. Timestamps help voiceover professionals pace themselves properly when recording to ensure a cohesive finished product. Some languages are naturally more compact than others when written/spoken, and translations can significantly expand content. In these cases, using timestamps to create silent moments for language expansion will prevent audio distortions, such as abnormally fast pace of speech, and having to edit out some of the content itself.

While the need to double- and triple-check audio scripts for errors before recording is necessary, there is nothing more helpful than fresh and experienced eyes reading through it too. Conducting a local review of the translated scripts with the aid of native speakers from your target market can help to provide feedback that may save your organization from embarrassing or offensive mistakes regarding a language’s slang and nuances.


Recording the script

Audio localization projects featuring more than one character should include a character list detailing the name, age, gender and characteristics of each voice. However, a common aim is to spend less time and money on the localized recording than on the original content. Human voice talent can be expensive. Limiting the number of voice actors is therefore a good way to lower costs, and experienced voice actors can also play multiple characters in the same project.

Once voice talent is decided and hired, take time to have them rehearse the audio script. Rehearsals should be held ahead of time and outside of studio time. Studio time is expensive, so the more familiar the talent is with the script prior to the studio recording session, the better.

Renting professional equipment or studio time can be quite expensive, but it’s not recommended to try to save money in this area. The difference between a high- and low-quality recording will absolutely affect the overall quality of your localized content. An experienced audio engineer will be able to even out sound content in terms of speakers’ volumes and tone. The audio engineer should also be able to edit out distracting and unwanted sounds, such as breathing and background noise.

As in developing the audio script, the audio recording should be checked and listened to several times. In this regard, the best feedback will again come from a member of your content’s target demographic. Pronunciation, tone, idioms, slang and nuances should all be taken into account before generating the final file format.


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Integrating the recording

Uniting audio and visual content into a consolidated and effective final product may require video editing, changes in the original sequence of the content, and detailed tinkering of length and timing to avoid any confusion in communicating the information. All the edits and reviews along the way to the ultimate product will culminate with a final quality assurance review. If the previous steps were carefully executed, the quality assurance review should not take long.

Once the audio or audio-video content passes its quality assurance review, it’s vital to keep in mind the platform it will be integrated into when completed. The finalized content will need to be in a specific file format for different systems, modules and platforms.


Applying subtitles

Subtitling, whether combined with translated audio or not, is a cost-effective way of introducing your content to another market. The process is less expensive than voiceover production and does not affect the original audio track of your video.

The two primary considerations when subtitling is script translation and appropriate timing with the audio and visual content. Some localization subtitling processes may require designing or editing the original video to allow for adequate space and time for the captions.

Because audio localization is as much an art as it is a science, it’s beneficial to have a team of experienced professionals on your side. 


The Andovar advantage

We are a global media-focused localization company, serving enterprise companies, video game producers, software developers, eCommerce, MarCom and other industries. We provide customized localization, integration and testing solutions for complex projects to facilitate global growth for broadcast media content providers.

Most of Andovar’s linguists are based in their home countries, and all have an up-to-date understanding of their respective languages. Andovar believes each client holds unique goals in the face of unique challenges, and with adaptive processes, and we are committed to creating a personalized solution for your organization.

Please feel free to reach out anytime to arrange some time to discuss your localization needs with our localization experts. Our international headquarters is located in Singapore, and we have production and sales agency branches in China, India, Thailand, Hungary, the United States, and Colombia, and our new engineering and training center in Mumbai India. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you with your next project.


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