How dubbing actors work: a two-part review

In many countries, re-sounding TV shows and movies into another language is not the most common phenomenon. Most movies and TV shows are still in English, and the rest of the content is most often accompanied by subtitles.

But the Russian audience is still very dependent on re-sounding into Russian - so much so that in Soviet times real masterpieces of dubbing appeared, and after that a special translation culture was formed, in which the voice actor brought in his personal character, intonation and jokes.

We decided to talk about how dubbing actors work. The story is in two parts.

In the first we will deal with general issues: what is the difference between voice acting and dubbing, what the whole process of dubbing a movie or series looks like and why being a dubbing actor is often more difficult than playing on camera.

Photo Alec Utin / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dubbing or voice acting?

Movies and TV shows translate differently. The first option is simultaneous voice-over translation: when the voice acting is superimposed over the original track. The viewer hears (at about 30% loudness) the real voices of the actors: all intonations, feelings and emotions. Translation (70% of the volume, sometimes with a slight lag) "put" on top.

In this case, the voice actor’s task is to play as calmly as possible or even neutral. He, in fact, simply reads the subtitles, and the game is provided by the actors from the original track. It is important here that the voice of the dubbing actor does not “argue” with the voices of the actors. This option is cheaper and easier - fast translation, quick editing, quick voice acting, quick overlay, one actor can voice several characters at once.

Now this method is often used on television - mainly because of its speed, simplicity and cheapness. In addition, before the film was easier to get in advance: the actors could get used to the role, the translators - thoughtfully translate, the editors - how to adapt the text. Now, due to the threat of piracy, it is more difficult to get video with a big handicap, so speed becomes a decisive factor.

The second option is dubbing. In this case, the original voice acting is removed completely, and the dubbing actor faces a more creative task - to play the intonations and emotions of the characters himself. Translation is often adapted to a specific audience - rewrite jokes and references.

The dubbing process: installation sheets and “handlers”

The first stage of voice acting is translation. It is made according to the installation sheets, where all the replicas and their timing are registered. It is important that the sounded text on the timing coincides with the original, otherwise the sound track will begin to lag behind the video sequence.

The text is translated and edited. In large studios, he then goes to the "handlers": these are people who check whether the translation matches the image on the screen. For this there is a special term - lip sync, that is, the synchronization of translation and articulation of actors. It depends on him whether the dubbing will be obvious, or whether the translated speech will look as if it were her actor who uttered it.

This is both technical and literary work - a lot here depends on the characteristics of the phonetics and the structure of languages ​​(original and translational). For example, in a phrase in the original language there may be many hissing sounds that imply a certain articulation and movement of the lips, but they are not used in translation - a discrepancy is obtained. Because of this, phrases are often rewritten, shortened, or even interchanged (if the sense of the scene allows it). In addition, different languages ​​are arranged differently - the translation of a phrase from English into Russian can be several times longer than the original.

Such stacking is done only when dubbing. When voice acting, or if a small team is engaged in dubbing (or even one person), the simplest styling is made along the length of the replicas - the translation should coincide with the original replicas.

After that, the dubbing actor gets the final text for the voice acting.

In this process, some of the problems with dubbing are hidden - due to the fact that the same text can pass through several hands (translator, editor or handler, and if the studio is small, then the actor can make some changes), the translation can Significantly different from the original - a peculiar effect of a damaged phone.

Play with the wall

A dubbing actor’s work may seem simpler than a full-time acting job - you just need to read from a sheet in the studio, depending on the complexity and seriousness of the project, the voice acting can take from a few hours to a few weeks.

However, often the dubbing of an actor is even more difficult, because he has to get into the role, convey the character and emotions of the hero in scenes in which he himself has not been. He plays without partners, scenery, does not commit active actions, does not interact with other actors and the environment. Therefore, he can only play with his voice - this is his only instrument and way to get used to the role.

The actors have a lot of time to work out the character and get used to the image - Robert De Niro worked as a taxi driver for three months before filming in “Taxi Driver”, Jack Nicholson lived in an insane asylum during the filming of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”. The dubbing actor does not have this luxury, and he has to do a similar job.

Microphone playing is a special skill that is far from easy to master. Often, good theater and film actors face difficulties, write many duplicates, and sometimes do not cope with the task at all due to various reasons. There are cases when the hero is played by one actor, and voiced by another. This happens not only in musical films, but also in the usual fiction film - for example, in Eldar Ryazanov’s film “Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!” Nadya Shevelyovu played Barbara Brylska, and voiced by Valentina Talyzina (because of a pronounced Polish accent Brylski). Alla Pugacheva sang songs for Nadia, and Sergei Nikitin - for Zhenya Lukashin.

Great dubbing

The acting school of the Soviet film distribution showed the generally accepted level of technology and craftsmanship. In the plot of 1968, they demonstrate how the process looks - from cutting the tape and laying to the recording itself.

Many dubbing actors presented their recognizable voices to dozens and hundreds of characters in movies, on television, in cartoons. At the same time, very few people know themselves - they tried to correct this injustice with a series of mini-documentaries about legendary dubbing actors.

For example, the issue about Oleg Kulikovich , who voiced more than two hundred roles: his voice says, for example, Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic” and Quentin Tarantino in “Pulp Fiction”.

In the second part of the review, we will explain how jokes and obscene language are translated, and why it is always difficult, remember films where dubbing turned out to be better than the original, and talk about interesting phenomena of the dubbing world.

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