ProComm Blog

Spanish Voice Overs and Translation: Steps to Success (Part 2)

In our previous article about getting the best out of Spanish voice over and translation, we discussed the importance of using native speakers, and the use of Neutral Spanish as the generally accepted dialect for most projects in the Western Hemisphere.

In this installment, we will delve further into the importance of using fully bilingual, native speakers for translation and voice talent, as well as the importance of using a native-tongue director to get the best out of a Spanish-language voiceover session.

While using a native speaker for your foreign language voice over project is key, don’t just take the first person you find on the street.   A translator who has a firm grasp on the English language, as well as their native Spanish, has an even greater ability to provide a spot-on translation.  Phrases go both ways, and a truly bilingual individual should understand the way to phrase things appropriately for each language.  For instance, if your English script uses colloquialisms or slang, you want someone who can replicate that in Spanish by using appropriate and corresponding phrases.  The key is to use someone who translates the message, not just the words.

As most of you reading this may know, ProComm is a phone patch studio.  We have our clients online to direct their sessions 99% of the time.  We prefer to work this way, so that the client can direct the talent into just the right read, and we can get the best out of the talent in every session.

The same goes for Spanish voice overs – we want the client to be involved in the recording, but we also prefer that there is a native speaker online to direct the Spanish-speaking voice talent.  It is important to have a bilingual director involved, as they can critique the delivery, diction and overall performance of the voice talent, as well as confer with the client and talent to fix any poorly translated areas of the copy.

Whether the native-tongue director is supplied from the client side or hired by ProComm, it is important to have this person available during the session.   Generally speaking, it is difficult for a voice actor to act in two capacities during a session, as they should focus on their delivery and not try to also act as an independent observer.

Another reason to have a native speaker helping to direct the talent is a very simple one – it is difficult for an English-only director to critique the Spanish read.   In my opinion, emotions do convey the same in Spanish as in English.  You can tell from listening if someone has a smile on their face, or if they are speaking with a stern tone.  So that is not the main obstacle.

But just imagine if the talent is presented with a poor translation (who knows where it might have come from), and they look to the director for assistance with the translation or word choice in a particular area of the script.  An English-only director would often times be helpless to offer suggestions or changes due to the challenges of not being fluent in the language they are directing.  Talk about a sticky situation, especially when the clock is running on the studio time and you have to get your audio out the door in 2 hours.  In that situation, you would surely want to have that bilingual director there by your side to help in the midst of such a vocabulary crisis.

One thing to remember though…not all voice actors are good translators & vice-versa.  That could stem from simple factors like: a great voice could have poor grammar skills, or they may have a more limited grasp of English, or some other issue that would not make them an ideal candidate for conducting rewrites on the fly.  Or a translator with sharp grammar skills may not be able to read the script, breathe properly, explore emotion and dynamics, or generally “play the part” as a professional voice actor could.

At ProComm, we have carefully vetted the individuals we use to fill these roles, and by focusing on these nuanced specifics, we have had much success in the world of Spanish voice over.   Hopefully these tips will help make your next Spanish VO project go smoother than ever.

In our next (and final) installment of this series, we will focus on the ever-important aspect of timings, and how that comes into play with regard to Spanish translation & voice over.

See you then, amigos!