By Jacques Barreau*
The next big challenge in the media and entertainment business will be the talent pool. Regardless of the country or the language, the coming years are going to be great for dubbing actors, but very challenging for localization companies as they will be fighting over the existing actors’ pool, which is too small to sustain the growing need for dubbing.
Unfortunately, the actors will share this challenge, as they too will fight over the content to be dubbed. The work will be concentrated in the main dubbing cities, and if actors live outside of these cities, they will have very few chances to get work. So on one hand, we have a small pool of existing actors who cannot handle the ever-growing work, and on the other hand we have lots of potential actors who won’t be considered candidates as they are not trained and are located far from the dubbing studios. This is what we call a lose-lose situation, and it needs to be changed quickly.
So this is one of the reasons for creating voice-over and dubbing schools that will be unique both in concept and in form.
Let’s start with the concept. The idea is to create a new, decentralized pool of talent to avoid adding to this limited group of actors that can work only in the dubbing cities. If these potential students cannot travel and study in these cities, we should bring the school to their homes.
The margins are not great in the dubbing business. Paying the actors and engineers is costly. And spending time in a studio is expensive. So only a complete change of the process will avoid a self-destructive war between the dubbing companies, which will ultimately lower the overall work quality. It also has to make sense financially for clients who have always been reluctant to spend money on dubbing due to its high price compared to subtitling.
The students will learn the basics in our blended e-learning classes, do their exercises, and answer the required quizzes to proceed to the next module — just like they would do in a game. But this is where our AI enters the scene. AI will not replace actors, but will make them better by improving their performances and limiting potential mistakes, as well as helping actors concentrate on their performances. Why did this sentence take eight takes to record when it could have been done in three or four? What was the problem? Was it too much projection? Bad pronunciation? Not a good reading? A timing issue?
So who is this academy for? Well, for anyone who wants to be part of a new group of actors who will have learned their future job with new tools and new processes. After their graduation, students will be ready to record anywhere, in studios or at home with a technology called Studio.NEXT, which is available for fast deliveries.
It will also be much easier for the actors recording at home to rehearse as long as they want without the time constraints of the studio. The rythmo band (a term used in the dubbing business when the text is scrolling from right to left on a screen and the actor reads the text in sync with the picture) will make easier for the actors to record in sync as it will free them from lip sync constraints, helping them to concentrate solely on their performances. Very often, the engineers have to make a choice between a perfect sync, an OK rendition, or a not-so-great lip sync in a great performance. The rythmo band and AI will help to solve this dilemma and the new generation of actors will do both naturally without even thinking about it.
The students will also learn how to prepare a text for reading, how to experiment with different voice placements and create different sounds. Students will also learn how to use a microphone to be their own engineers when recording in Studio.NEXT. Finally, we’ll talk about acting and how to deliver a great performance, as in the near future actors will most likely have to record and direct themselves, which is probably the most difficult task at hand.
In the new dubbing world, which will last for a while, we’ll see a mix of old and new technology. The students and future actors will have to be ready to go to a studio to read a script, use or not use the rythmo band, or record themselves at home. They must be ready to face all kinds of situations. I think that our students will be the best armed to handle the challenges of the new global need for localization.
*Jacques Barreau is vp at L.A.-based Translations.com. Barreau plays a key role in the development of the company’s Studio.NEXT and Media.NEXT suite of AI-powered media localization solutions. Barreau applied his musical theories to the world of language-dubbing to launch the Media.NEXT Dubbing Academy.