Quality assurance (QA) reviews are critical to ensuring the accuracy and integrity of any multilingual voice-over or video dubbing project. But just having QA as part of your multimedia localization workflow isn’t enough. You also have to get it right – and that requires knowing what to do during project setup and script translation.
This post lists four tips to ensure successful QA reviews in foreign-language audio projects.
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Why is QA necessary for multilingual voice-over & dubbing?
Quality assurance reviews (also known as quality control, or QC) are crucial to voice-over and dubbing projects for two reasons. First, the production workflows for these kinds of projects are quite extensive, requiring at least a session setup, script formatting for studio, recording, post-production editing and final output.
Second, these projects involve several skilled studio professionals, including a project manager, studio engineer, native-speaking bilingual director, voice talent or dubbing artist, and a post-production editor. Each one of these specialists is tested to ensure they can produce high-quality, error-free work – for example, the really great foreign-language voice-over and dubbing talents can sight-read long texts with a high degree of accuracy. But they’re still human.
Human error, when coupled with the complexity of audio and video localization workflows, means that a QA step is the only way to ensure the accuracy and quality of every recording. Here’s what multimedia localization professionals must to do to ensure its success.
1. Ensure that QA is actually a part of the studio’s workflow.
Don't assume this is a given. Make sure you hire a professional studio that provides QA on every single production. Moreover, make sure that the studio vets its QA reviewers, testing each one for native fluency, voice-over expertise and ability to catch issues, and that it has processes in place for tracking pronunciation and client requests. Of course, JBI Studios implements a thorough QA review, performed by tested reviewers, on every single production, tracking bugs and making sure they’re resolved before delivery.
2. Make sure your Pronunciation Guideline is complete.
A QA reviewer is only as good as the Pronunciation Guideline (also known as Pron Guide, or PG) he or she is following. Same for the talent and director, of course. If the Pron Guide has information that’s incorrect, the recordings will be wrong as well. If it’s incomplete, the studio staff may make choices that don’t align with your client’s preferences. Ensure that your Pron Guides are complete, and especially that they include any special exceptions for acronyms, jargon, or any other project terminology. JBI Studios likewise provides a comprehensive Pron Guide template with every production.
3. Remember that Pron Guides are not keys.
That is to say, they should tell the talent, director and QA reviewer how to pronounce a term, and not what to say in its place. For example, imagine you’re recording a Spanish voice-over project for a US audience. If you have the acronym “FBI” in your text, your Pron Guide can ask the talent to say it letter-by-letter in Spanish, or letter-by-letter in English. However, if you want the talent to say “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” then that needs to be written out in the script itself.
4. Double- and triple-check your final script.
It’s also critical that scripts are readable in general. Scripts with typos, misplaced line-breaks, unusual formatting, extraneous code or any other issues that affect readability will make it easier for errors to creep into the final audio. This is true even if you ask the studio to correct any obvious typos during the session. For starters, not all typos are obvious, and in some cases will require figuring out what the copywriter intended. Moreover, formatting issues like extraneous line-breaks can be tricky to catch as well – for example, a line break may make a phrase in a sentence look like a stand-alone heading. A clean, properly-formatted script ensures that the QA reviewer knows exactly what he or she needs to be checking against.
QA requires proper audio & video localization setup
Ultimately, a thorough project setup is the best way to ensure that all the complex processes involved in a multimedia localization production come together seamlessly. The quality assurance review part of this workflow is no exception – it is directly affected by how well the project is set up, and how clearly the content and its requirements are communicated. Take the time during translation to review your scripts and make sure they’re accurate and readable, and to consult with your stakeholders on the Pron Guides, especially if you’re reaching out to in-country reviewers in the different locales. This may take considerable time, but it will ensure that your QA review is as effective as possible – and of course, that your projects deliver on time, on budget and with an exceptional level of quality.