“Would you be interested in recording your voice for a short video?, my friend Alba asks me via Whatsapp, one morning. What type of video? I inquire. No more than 20 seconds pass before I’m streaming a promotional 4 minute video on my mobile phone about a winery in Basque Country. (There are perks to having a smart phone, I tell you. This is my very first one!) I immediately want to hop on a bus, go to the winery, sip glasses of wine and learn about the art of wine making.
She has a video already prepared in Spanish but she wants an English version to promote wineries in Pais Vasco. She’s working on a big project but I’m not quite sure what it all entails. But it doesn’t matter right now, I’ll learn in time.
I gladly agree. How can I say no? What an awesome opportunity!
“El texto está traducido ya,” The text is already translated in English, she tells me but when we meet and she hands over the text, I scratch my head trying to make sense of the English translation. The text has been translated no doubt, but it doesn’t make sense, or flow off the tongue like you’d hope for making a video.
I assume, I’ll make some quick corrections and then her friend will start recording my voice. I hurry, making quick edits but soon realize it’s not as simple as I thought. I translate between the English translation and the Spanish text trying to maintain the original sentiments. Translating is a challenging job, and even more complex when you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker. But I like it. I like the challenge. I love the beauty of trying to capture words in one language and expressing them in another. We check wordreference.com for important vocabulary and an hour and half later, I’m nearly finished editing 4 minutes of text, or a page and half). There are still a few sentences that have the best of me in how to capture the meaning, flow and make sense.
It’s tricky trying to piece together the translation while beautifully conveying what’s she’s written. My friend is a journalist, a trained and eloquent writer. Storytelling takes time and I fight with my brain on how to piece words together. How would we say that in English? And how do I write it like a story? I ponder.
She’s eager for the translation and to start recording but I want to do my best despite the limitations. She wonders if her British friend used google translate and I can’t imagine how he felt confident to hand back the text back to my friend knowing it would be used for a video.
We’re out of time so we re-schedule for another day to record. Friday at noon.
I enter the recording studio to a plume of cigarette smoke, windows shut and Alba offers me a glass of water. My throat briefly clenches and I ponder the irony of smoking in a recording studio where its crucial people’s voices have optimal conditions to record their voice. But I don’t bother saying anything. Euskadi flag hangs on the wall along with a myriad of concert posters and concert tickets.
Alba re-wrote the text in English so I have a clean page to read from and I’m still finding more corrections.
I do a test run. I’ve only done a 3 minute promotional video before for a Farmers market ,I used to manage but it was done outside, not in a recording studio.
“Speak louder and have more enthusiasm in your voice, like you’re telling a story to children. Every word is important,” Alba explains in Spanish.
I try again. My words are monotone and my volume fluctuates.
Oh this is more difficult than I thought.
But Alba encourages me and demonstrates, pronouncing words as if she’s telling a beautiful story. She’s a pro after 7 years of working in radio and as well as having experience in theater.
My pronunciation and pace is better but need more enthusiasm. We do a few takes and I improve. I tell myself, “I’m going to get this.”
I’m reminded of what my voice sounds like and it’s strange. I realize it’s been a few years, since I’ve heard my voice- Remember message machines, where you’d record your message and always hear it when you’d play back your messages. Gone are those days. “You have a beautiful voice, I like it,” She tells me.
I become more comfortable speaking slowly, emphasizing important words and showing enthusiasm in my voice. Occasionally. I trip on a word and we re-record. No big deal.
After an hour in the studio, we’ve finished recording. Wow.
What an experience.
The 4 minute recording is replayed and I like what I hear and have quickly grown accustom to my voice. I notice slight changes I’d want to make now that I hear the text all together but it’s ok. It’s like writing an essay or book, you can always find edits and more corrections. We’re happy with what we have.
I’ll keep you posted when the promotional video about a winery in Basque Country debuts…