What a German voice-over talent can do for you

Definition of German voice talent/German voice actor

The German expression for German voice talent, or German voice actor, is “Sprecher”, and sometimes also “Profisprecher”. Many German voice actors work from their own studio, delivering their voice recordings to their customers via the Internet.

There are also agencies that represent German voice talents, although representation by agents is more common in the USA. Mostly, the voice talents record scripts in the German language, but from time to time, scripts in English with a German accent are needed.

Dialects within Germany

The German language has numerous dialects such as Berlin dialect, Saxon, Bavarian and Swabian.

In some regions, inhabitants of villages that are just a few kilometers apart already speak distinct dialects. Switzerland and Austria each speak different shades of Swiss German and Austrian.

The so-called High-German

Someone who has grown up in Germany usually does not speak these languages or only imitates them. If voice overs are to be used throughout Germany without a person realizing in which region a language recording originated, so-called High German must be used. The correct technical term is “Deutsche Hochlautung”.

Even small colorations of a dialect can cause a smile in another federal state, which is not always desirable. If it is not a dialect radio play, the acceptance of a voicetalent can drop drastically and significantly reduce the success of a campaign. This applies to all genres, from e-learning and audio books to image films.

It is therefore essential that you pay attention to the extent to which a German voice over artist has been trained phonetically. Each person has grown up in a more or less linguistically distinct region. A voice over artist has to meet high standards when it comes to the correctness of pronunciation. Speaking without dialect is not something that comes automatically especially not in voice overs.

Translating into German

German is always too long

When handling time-sensitive scripts translated into German, such as those used in videos, it is important to provide a voice-over-friendly translation. This means that the number of syllables in the German translation should not exceed the number in the original script. Because German is 20% longer, the translator cannot conduct a one-by-one translation of the content. It is important to shorten the script, otherwise the pace for the voice talent will become too high and the listener will have difficulties in following it.

Feeling the stylistic level

Please also keep in mind the following: A professional translator is an expert in maintaining the stylistic level and ideally should translate into his/her mother tongue. A German voice talent is not a professional translator, and certainly not a Google-tool.

Translators are professionals

With this in mind, the recommendation is to not try to save money by asking the German voice actor for a translation as well. Instead, invest that money in the skills of a real expert, except when the script is very easy and the stylistic level is not important. You should not let the translator record the script either. We can all talk, of course, but professional voice actors have improved their skills, hopefully via a well-grounded education.

Becoming a voice talent

There are different ways to become a German voice talent. The possibilities for training in Germany are: