Pre-booking foreign-language voice-over and dubbing sessions is a cost-effective way to shorten timelines and optimize talent availability. But this option also has significant drawbacks. Therefore, it’s critical for multimedia localization professionals to know when it can really have an impact on a project, with a minimum of risk.
This post will list three instances when pre-booking can be a great option for audio & video localization.
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What does it mean to pre-book a voice-over or dubbing session?
Voice-over and dubbing sessions are generally scheduled – or “booked,” to use the industry term – once all the assets for a project have been received. That includes the final translated script, Pronunciation Guidelines, source audio or video, reference materials and anything else required for the production. This is best practice to avoid production issues.
Pre-booking, however, is the practice of scheduling a talent session before all the assets are ready. In a multimedia localization context, this usually means booking a talent while waiting for the scripts to be translated and reviewed, assuming that script and all other assets will be received by a certain date and time before the booked session. Every pre-booking takes a slight risk since a script or assets delay means having to cancel the talent session and incurring additional fees.
Why is pre-booking so effective at reducing timelines? For one main reason – it helps to manage voice actor availabilities. Foreign-language voice-over talents are often in high demand, especially for languages with relatively small populations of native speakers. On top of that, their availabilities often change suddenly – they can get booked on a large project, for example. Pre-booking helps control this availability factor.
For a detailed look at how this process works – as well as its potential pitfalls – see our previous post, Pre-Booking Voice-Over Talents for Rush Projects – The Pros and Cons.
When is it useful for audio & video localization?
Because of the potential budget overages, it’s good to reserve pre-booking for audio and video localization projects that can really benefit from it. Let’s jump right in.
1. Corporate & e-Learning projects with tight turnarounds.
Pre-booking can be particularly useful for corporate and e-Learning projects that have tight turnarounds, like CEO videos or other time-sensitive communications. Same for public announcements and IVR prompts, which are often recorded for a change of service, holiday closures, or responses to a specific event in a community. These projects generally also have strict script timelines and low word counts, which means that there’s less of a chance of having to cancel pre-booked sessions. However, it’s still critical to build in enough buffer in the translation timeline to avoid overages.
2. Online, radio and TV commercial spots.
Pre-booking is nearly ideal for marketing localization. Why? Two reasons. First, marketing spots have rigorous casting requirements, so that locking in the perfect talent significantly impacts how effective a message is. Second, they often have set air dates that can’t be missed. In short, pre-booking alleviates the two main concerns of these productions – casting and timeline.
That said, it’s good to remember that marketing copy and casting picks for commercials often have to get buy-in from multiple stakeholders. It’s critical to build realistic script and talent pick timelines, and communicate them to all reviewers, to ensure that these projects deliver on budget and on time.
3. In-studio interpretation projects.
It’s also a great option for in-studio interpretation projects. First, these projects don’t require script translation, so there’s a minimal chance of having to cancel the pre-booked session. Second, a lot of the materials that get interpreted are long-form “captured” or event videos – like live webinars, interview footage, or screen activity capture how-to’s – which have a set recording date and minimal post-production, and can be delivered to the dubbing studio relatively quickly. And third, this content often has a limited window of viability, so it really benefits from quick turnarounds to foreign-language customers and employees.
For more information on this service, see our previous post, In-Studio Interpretation: Quick, Cost-Effective Audio & Video Localization.
Pre-booking requires tighter multimedia localization workflows
Remember the main drawback to pre-booking – that if a script or any other production asset is delayed, session cancellation fees will apply. On top of that, the timeline then has to be re-worked around talent availability, which may not be optimal. It’s important to make sure that your project will benefit from this option, and to plan for it. Pre-booking actually requires much more rigorous project coordination than a standard production workflow and much tighter scheduling. While it’s generally true that proper project setup is the key to the success of multimedia localization projects, on a pre-booked project it’s absolutely critical to keep them from going over budget and missing critical deadlines.