3 Steps You Can Take to Avoid Voice-Over & Dubbing Pick-Ups

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Pick-ups almost always mean trouble for voice-over, dubbing and video localization projects. For starters, they add unexpectedly to budgets, particularly on internationalization drives with multiple target languages. More critically, though, they lengthen timelines, often delaying a product or service launch, or even a commercial spot’s air-date. Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize them – and even to avoid them altogether.

This post lists the 3 steps multimedia localization professionals and producers can take to avoid pick-up sessions.

[Average read time: 4 minutes]

What are pick-up voice-over sessions – and why do they happen?

Pick-up sessions (often called “PU’s” for short) are studio recordings that take place after a voice-over or video dubbing project is thought to be completed. They’re almost always done to “pick up” a piece of content that was either missed in the initial sessions or that was added to the project scope – thus the name. Because of that, they’re always done with the recording talents used initially, and the content is by definition an addition or a change to the original script text.

Pick-ups can be caused by:

  • Pronunciation issues. This is the most common reason. For example, brand names are usually said in English with a local accent, but some have different standard pronunciations for specific locales. This kind of error is often noted by an in-country contact once recordings are final.
  • Corrections to the script. For example, a step-by-step procedure in a marketing how-to video for a software program may be for an outdated version of the interface. In this case, the corrected steps must be re-recorded.
  • Additions to the script. Usually, this happens because a new line or section is added to the copy. Or, likewise, because a stakeholder realizes that information is missing from the script.

What issues do pick-ups present to audio & video localization projects?

Pick-up sessions are usually quite short. The trickiest part, in fact, is making sure that the foreign-language voice-over or dubbing talent meshes perfectly with the initial audio’s tone, performance and overall audio quality. This is one of the reasons that JBI Studios tracks session settings on all projects.

No matter how minor they are, though, pick-ups still require booking an additional talent session. That alone can seriously delay post-production and product integration workflows. For example, corrections for an e-Learning course may mean an additional round of sync work in Storyline or Captivate, as well as follow-on QA rounds. Moreover, PU recordings have to be done with the same talent and are dependent on their availability – which of course can be an issue if the talent has other bookings.


In short, you want to avoid pick-ups. Here’s how you can do just that.

1. Make sure your Pronunciation Guidelines are complete.

Again, pronunciation issues are the main cause of pick-ups, but they can be avoided. Make sure that your Pronunciation Guidelines cover all the special terminology in your translated scripts, and review every section to ensure that the standard pronunciation rules apply to your content. Send your Pronunciation Guidelines to your in-country contacts, especially for brand names and special terminology – remember that pronunciations often differ from locale to locale and that a brand name, for example, may sound very different in your Spanish and Japanese voice-over recordings.

For more information, see our previous post The 3 Pronunciation Mistakes that Cause Most Voice-Over Pick-Ups.

2. Make sure your English-language scripts are locked.

Many script changes that lead to pick-up sessions come from input received after recording. Which means, of course, that usually these changes can be incorporated before the voice-over or video localization production begins. That means getting all department and stakeholder sign-offs before studio production begins, including from your in-country contacts. Whenever possible, make sure that all review cycles are complete before translating and recording.

3. Make sure locale-dependent script elements are adjusted.

Remember that your locales may have different informational requirements as well, or even be governed by legislation that will affect your script. Have different websites for different markets? Or different product configurations available for a specific locale? Or, do your employee e-Learning courses need to take local regulations into account? Make sure that your localized scripts reflect those differences and that they contain locale-appropriate information before recording.

Consider the options that are best practice for your specific content

Finally, think through the other options available to ensure the accuracy of your specific content. If your content contains many place or person names, consider recording a reference audio track. Or, if you’re recording marketing spots or commercials, you may want to look at the call-in options available. And finally, no matter what you’re recording, it’s critical to rely on a professional studio like JBI Studios that provides Pronunciation Guidelines templates – as well as directors and QA reviewers on every project – to ensure the accuracy of your audio recordings. This is true for all multimedia localization, of course, and the single best thing you can do to avoid project issues.

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