voice over translation

Voice-over Translation: What Are the Challenges?

  • Categories: Translation
  • Written By: Torjoman
  • Date: December 6, 2022

Localization has become more prerequisite nowadays due to the increase of globalization and the huge demands from businesses to reach international markets. A variety of language services have been recently introduced to break the barriers of cultural differences.

What Is Voice-over Translation?

A voice-over translation is an audio-visual translation in which an oral script is translated and then recorded over the original audio that is heard in the background. In most cases, the voice-over artist should be native in the targeted language to ensure that he/she speaks its right accent and addresses perfectly its local market. This type of translation is usually used in news reports, documentaries, and interviews in countries where subtitling is not dominantly used.

Types of Voice-over Translation


In this type, the source script is totally replaced by the recorded translation. This is commonly used in movies and series.

The Instructional Style

This technique does not require an accurate translation of the original text. The actor has the authority to reformulate a narrative to explain whatever is happening on the screen in his/her own words.

The UN-Style

In this method, the audience can hear the voice of the original speaker for a few seconds, and then the authentic voice volume is lowered allowing the voice-over translation to be on top. 

Voice Replacement

This method reverses the voice of the original speaker with the voice-over actor’s voice. The new speakers replace the original words with their native language bearing in mind not to miss any original points.

The challenges of Voice-over Translation

There is no doubt that the process of voice-over translation is time consuming. The following are the steps of the process:

  1.  Transforming an oral speech or dialogue into a written script.
  2. Translating the written script while listening to the oral one.
  3. Reviewing the translated text by linguistic Specialists.
  4. Sending the translation back to the client for review.
  5. Recording the translated script.
  6. Editing the video before launching.

Time Management

Since the process of voice-over translation seems to be long and complicated. Organizing tasks during the process is necessary in order to avoid any delays in the project. Any voice-over process has to have at least the following roles:

  1. Script Writer
  2. Translator
  3. Native Voice-over artists
  4. Editor
  5. Sound Engineer
  6. Linguistic Specialist

Selecting the right agency for your project is essential to ensure that it will be given a competent and timely workflow.


  • Translating only the generated written script reduces the quality of the voice-over translation. Thus, hearing the audio-visual work while reading the written one is essential in order to understand more the culture of the speaker.
  • A translator should have the required awareness of the target language to be able to translate idioms, slang, colloquialisms, and sayings.
  • A translator does not only translate the script of a narrative, but he/she also goes the extra mile to make the translated text length as close as possible to that of the original one. This requires the translator to adjust the text to allow the voice-over artist to read the script within the time limitation of the video.
  • In dubbing, the translation has to be also synchronized with the on-screen lip movement. Furthermore, the voice-over artist has to study the tone of voice of the original actors.

Talent Selection

In order to achieve a successful voice-over translation project, you should select the right talent. It is preferable that he/she is native in the target language to efficiently deliver the message to the audience. A native speaker is aware of his country’s jokes, idioms, slang…etc.

Client Satisfaction

  •  Translating the original script should address the culture of the target language. Therefore, sending the translated script back to the client to have a look at before launching the project is very important as the client may suggest further changes based on his country’s cultural needs.
  • Furthermore, the translator sometimes resorts to eliminating parts of the text for the sake of time or length synchronization. That is why the client should be aware of this before moving forward with the process.

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