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Working With Voice Over Talent When You Don't Speak The Language

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable increase of clients who require international voice over talent to record their scripts, either in English or another language. As we’ve all become more connected the world has gotten ‘smaller’ - and business are finding they need to communicate with an increasingly diverse global audience.

But how do you successfully work with international voice over artists when you don’t speak their language? Ordering a voice over online (with no guarantee of quality) can be a nightmare and add a lot of unnecessary complexity to a project if you can’t communicate easily with the talent.

We sat down with Britt, one of the foreign language voice over specialists in our customer service team to find out how she works with our international voiceover talent.

What gets you up in the morning?

My fur babies! I love my 2 dogs (Mosby and Bailey) - they are such great companions and almost every Sunday we’ll go exploring together. Another thing I LOVE is travelling and experiencing new things. I've been very fortunate to travel to a number of places in the world - my favourite would have to be Switzerland.

I also love my job and I'm passionate about getting it right. I get a real kick out of hearing a voice over recorded and knowing it’s going to work perfectly with the clients’ project. Looking over a brief and ‘hearing’ which voice is going to be the right fit, and then seeing the finished product days (and sometimes weeks) later knowing we nailed it is the icing on the cake.

How long have you been at Abes Audio?

I’ve been part of the customer service team at Abes 4 years. Prior to that I studied history and politics at university. (Abes is more fun!)

How do you work with international voice over artists or translators when you don’t speak their language?

It might sound difficult, but we’ve developed processes to ensure accuracy at every stage of a project.

To start with, when we’re translating a script from English to another language, we’ll work with a second (independent) translator to check this translation to ensure the accuracy and intended meaning is retained. We call this process ‘retranslation’. It’s critical that we ensure the message doesn’t get lost in translation. (A great movie, by the way!)

Once the script has been translated and proofed for accuracy, we’ll book one of our international voice over narration talent and have them record the high quality audio. We use native-speaking voice overs who are usually based in their country of origin to ensure their accent is authentic.

After the voice over has been recorded and edited by our production team, we’ll have it independently proofed by the original translator to ensure the audio matches the script and style requested. Any errors in the voice over work are flagged at this point, before being fixed by the voiceover artist and re-edited by our team.

What are the most commonly requested languages at Abes Audio?

Mandarin is by far the most requested language for translation and voice over. (Perhaps this has a lot to do with the recent growth of the Chinese economy?) It is closely followed by Spanish, Indonesian, Japanese and French translations and voice overs.

What’s the most interesting language you’ve worked with?

Somalian! The tone of the language sounds so different to other languages we have recorded in the past. It is such an interesting - and almost ‘abrupt’ - language to listen to.

If you could give advice to a voice over artist who’s just starting out in the voice over industry, what would it be?

  1. To sound 'real'. Being authentic is one of the most requested styles but it is the hardest to deliver well. That’s probably because it’s not overly natural to read words on a page in a conversational manner.
  2. Never guess a pronunciation that you might not be totally confident of - chances are it will be wrong! At Abes, we have a huge database of audio pronunciations that we’ve recorded over the years which helps our voice over talent to get difficult pronunciations right.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve done at Abes?

Agreeing to get in the recording booth to record voices overs when a teenager is called for. I’ll never live it down!

Britt is a key part of the customer service team at Abes Audio. If you have a project requiring translation or an international voice over, you can contact her at

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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