When the agency makes you do a voice-over with a bad translation.
June 22, 2012 § 12 Comments
The other day I was talking to some colleagues who do voice-overs for radio, television, and industrials. Soon, the conversation turned to those times when the interpreter gets the script for the voice-over or for a commercial just to learn that the original English text has been poorly translated. Of course, depending on the client, and sometimes the accessibility of the director and producers of the piece, the interpreter can make some observations and request changes to the script so that the actual foreign language native-speaker can understand the commercial or the show. There are cases when the producer requests a new translation before the shooting. This is the ideal situation.
However, many times when we bring this up, we face hostility from the agency and the production crew. We are often told that the script was sent to a translator, that it has been translated, and that you were hired to do the voice-over or as voice talent on the screen, and that is all. One of my colleagues shared that a few days earlier, even after trying everything above, she had to shoot a commercial for an automobile using a translation of a script that was hard to memorize because the translated words did not make any sense. In her target language a car is never “fresh” or “aggressive” and the stereo is never “very ready,” but as a professional, she had to do the T.V. commercial.
My question to those of you who do voice-talent work is: Do we show our professionalism by doing the job, even with a bad translation, as long as we bring this up with the agency, the producer, and the director? or, Is it our duty to protect the company that owns the product to be advertised, and should we stop them from becoming the laughing stock of the community they are trying to reach?