Voice-over services are different from subtitling. While for some people they may be similar, and in some cases it can lead to confusion, they are in fact two completely different services. To put it simply, subtitling is basically the translation of source text that is placed at the bottom of the screen of a video, respecting a character limit; voice-over, however, is dubbing over the voice of the original audio with words translated in the target language.
Because the services are different, the tools and work processes for subtitling and voice-over are also different. Voice-over services are generally outsourced to recording studios that are equipped with audio equipment that is ideal for this type of work, or they can be done in-house in the translation agency when possible. Of course, this depends mostly on the size of the agency and its facilities.
The work involved with voice-overs always involves a greater effort and more commitment of resources than subtitling, because in dubbing it is necessary to respect the various voices of audio, whether it is male or female, or whether a voice is ON or OFF CAMERA. The voice-over script, rather than a translation of words is a translation of emotions. This service is usually more expensive than subtitling, since there may be several resources used for this task. In subtitling, however, the only resource necessary is a translator who works with the appropriate programs.
Some interesting facts that may be useful for providing a reliable service voice-over are:
- When translating for voice-over, it is important to consider the actor’s tone, which makes it easier to maintain the specific vocabulary and idiosyncrasies of the character.
- It is also highly recommended to read the final work out loud to make sure it has the same flavor of the source.
- For filler sentences or phrases, such as, “Yeah, well, you know …” we must find an equivalent in the target language, but does not express exactly the same literal sense, for example, “Bueno, pues nada…”
- Try to convey the emotion of the spoken word.
- The voice actors must have specific instructions, for example, pronunciation tips. If the actor in the original work speaks English with a strong Italian accent, the actor has to know this.
As you can see, this is not just a small aspect translation, but rather a representation of emotions, gestures, on and off camera actions, and so on. and so on. It is work that takes time, definitely much more than a simple translation.