JBI Studios' Blog on Voice-Over, Dubbing, and Multimedia Localization.

4 Critical Tips to Record Voice-Over & Dubbing in English for India

Producing voice-over and dubbing into English for India is a crucial part of the communications strategy for many organizations. Why? Because it’s a cost-effective way to increase in-country product reach and employee engagement. India is growing rapidly as a market and business locale – and multimedia localization professionals must know how to reach its English-speaking audience.

This post will list the four tips you must know to record voice-over and dubbing into English for India.

[Average read time: 3 minutes]

Why record voice-over and video dubbing into English for India?

India has over 125 million English speakers – that’s the second-largest speaker population in a single country, after the United States. Moreover, English is often a lingua franca in industries like high finance and tech, particularly in multilingual locales like Mumbai. And of course, the country is growing rapidly – McKinsey expects that by 2030 India will have the world’s fifth largest consumer market, and a 500 million-strong middle class. While that growth will happen primarily amongst native Indian-language speakers, the English-speaking market will still be relatively large – for example, the KPMG report on internet usage in India still projects 199 million English-language internet users by 2021.

That means two things. First, that productions in English with a native Indian accent cover a lot of ground, particularly among key consumer demographics. They’re also critical to reaching communities of Indian descent around the world, including in the United States. Second, that these localized productions increase employee engagement, especially when it comes to e-Learning courses and scenarios for in-country workforces in industries with high numbers of English speakers.


So what do you need to know to record English voice-over and dubbing with a native Indian accent? Let’s jump right in.

1. Make sure you get speakers with a real non-native accent...

This is absolutely critical to a successful production. Source a talent who actually speaks English with a non-native accent in his or her normal, day-to-day conversations. Be especially careful with talents who grew up hearing the non-native accent but don’t actually use it in their own normal speech – for example, a second-generation speaker who grew up in the States with foreign-born parents, and who can imitate their accent closely. JBI Studios, of course, tests all of our over 2500 foreign-language voice talents rigorously for native accent, including on accented English voiceover projects.

2. ...but also make sure your talents are fluent in English.

At the same time, the final audio must be intelligible to a wide English-speaking audience. The talent’s English needs to be good enough that he or she can be understood easily, even with an audible non-native accent. How do you ensure that? With a rigorous voice-over casting process that tests fluency and sight-reading ability, especially for corporate multimedia localization projects or narrations with longer scripts.

3. Keep in mind the different regional accents.

The linguistic diversity of India is staggering. There are over 100 languages in the country with speaker populations of 10,000 people or more. Many of these languages fall into closely-related linguistic families, but speakers of English from different regions will still have slightly different accents. Moreover, remember that a talent's accent will also be influenced by where he or she learned English – most noticeably for speakers who learned English in the US.

While most productions don’t have accent requirements, it’s good to keep these regional accents in mind. Likewise, be sure to confirm whether your client needs a specific one at project start. For example, an online marketing video with high visibility in Kolkata may benefit from having an English speaker with a native Bengali accent.

4. Allow more time for voice-over production and post-production.

Talents recording English with an Indian accent usually require more takes to really nail a read, especially on marketing or commercial spots. Likewise, expect more starts and stops during the session, which means that the editor will have to spend a little more time on post-production to clean out cuts and breaths. In short, build a buffer into your timeline and session bookings.

Make sure to follow foreign-language voice-over best practices

English for India requires a slightly different kind of accented voice-over since its speakers are often life-long, fluent speakers of the language. In fact, some talents may even have more facility in English than in their regional native language. For this reason, it’s tempting to treat it as a standard English-language production, and not do a full casting and review process – but this can lead to issues when the audio arrives in-country. Remember that these recordings are for a specific locale with different expectations and cultural norms from ours. It’s critical to engage a native-speaker director, and to solicit reviews from members of your target audience if at all possible – whether employees at a multilingual locale, or in-country managers, or even a test audience for marketing or commercial spots. In short, make sure to set the project up properly and to follow multimedia localization best practices – after all, this is the only way to ensure your productions engage your local audience and deliver on time and on budget.

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Topics: Voice-over & Audio Dubbing Video Translation

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