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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Industry Focus

Language dubbing for emerging markets

Jacques Barreau

I’m a dubbing enthusiast. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous. I only think that, when well done, dubbing can help audiences of all ages enjoy movies in countries where it would have been otherwise subtitled. I think subtitles are a good thing, but only dubbing really permits the adaptation of a film to a culture, which is our ultimate goal.

If we can define an emerging dubbing market as a country where the foreign product was previously watched in its original language (generally English) with or without subtitles, asking such a country to start dubbing foreign movies in its language is like asking a country that never played soccer to put a team together and start playing in the World Cup. Such a team would have to be selected and learn the rules of the game. But as most people in this country have never played before, under which parameters can this team be selected? Well, on all the parameters that are relevant to the game: physical condition, knowledge of the game (if any), team spirit, cultural history and so on. Language dubbing follows the same idea. It will always be the result of a mix of cultural and technical parameters. Will the actors come exclusively from theater? Will the country have a local film or TV industry? Is there a strong musical culture? Are there recording studios? Dubbing in this new market will be a mix of all these things, and each one will have its own personality, just like soccer teams do.


Historical perspective

Language dubbing is almost as old as sound in movies. It gives the illusion to the audience that they are watching a movie that was recorded in their original language. This illusion can be so good that I, being raised in France, didn’t have any idea for the longest time that most of the movies I watched were made in Hollywood. When you are born in these historical dubbing countries, dubbing is usually well made, natural sounding and finely adapted to the country’s culture. These countries import many movies and can create high quality, expensive dubbed products that produce high revenues. This is a nice ecosystem with professional dubbing studios and a great distribution system. It is important to note that most of the dubbing actors are professionals in this field and can make a living from dubbing. In contrast, the emerging countries don’t have the same ecosystem. The actors are not professional dubbing actors, the studios are usually music studios and the distribution cannot generate the same type of revenue. . .

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Above excerpt taken from the October/November 2012 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

October/November, 2012