Friday, February 28, 2014

Lip Syncing, Dubbing, Subtitling, How Does it Work?

Voice dubbing and lip syncing, how does it work?

QUALITY LIP SYNC DUBBING
Quality lip syncing and dubbing go hand in hand as matching the re-recorded audio with the lips of the live actors. Quality lip sync dubbing provides a true multimedia experience. 

Syncing foreign-language audio with the lips of the actor on screen requires:
  • Dialogue translation to match the lips of the actor on screen.  Often, the linguist translates the dialogue directly from the video, which takes longer than translating directly from a script. 
  • The linguist to categorize different sections of dialogue by character. 
  • The linguist or an editor to note the time code for each character’s dialogue so the sound engineer can find them. 
Post-production dubbing process requires:
  • A copy of the video, the original audio, and a program that allows simultaneous audio recording and video playback. 
  • A sound engineer to run the computer and recording software. 
  • The voice talent to record the translated audio while the video plays silently in front of him/her to. 
  • The voice talent to review and approve the synced audio recording, which can be very time consuming.
  • An editor views the synched audio/video and adjusts it to match perfectly.  If some audio is off-sync, the voice talent can return to re-record certain sections to match the lips of the actor.
  • The voice talent, or preferably an additional native speaker, views the film and notes any problems with the translation or lip synching of the audio.

TIMECODE DUBBING
This less-precise method involves noting the time-code (the length of time for specific sections of dialogue), categorized by characters.  This dialogue is then translated from the script to fit within the noted timecodes.
  • The voice talent records the dialogue to fit the timecode, without a video feed.
  • An editor takes the foreign audio recording and lays it back to sync exactly with the video time code.  The editor will then position the audio to match the lips of the actor.
  • Often, the audio does not match exactly, and portions of the front and back are too long or too short.  If this is noticeable, the voice talent returns to shorten or lengthen the audio recording.  On occasion, a new translation is needed for portions of dialogue to shorten or lengthen it. 

PROBLEMS WITH BOTH DUBBING METHODS
Foreign audio dubbing never matches perfectly with the original video. It is always noticeable. 
Quality lip syncing and dubbing can be a lengthy process. Timecode dubbing is potentially cost effective, but it does not provide the desired experience with your intended audience. 

SUBTITLING
One of the most effective ways to translate narrative films is to subtitle them.  This insures the performance of the actors is preserved. The original actors’ expressiveness on screen is much more than simply their words.
  • Even if we do not understand the language they are speaking, we get a lot of emotional meaning from the style in which it is being conveyed.
  • The human eye can only read a certain number of words per minute, and dialogue is usually spoken faster than the audience read it.
  • The translator adapts the translation so that it accurately conveys the original dialogue within the rules of average reading speed.

Many languages require more words than others to express the same idea, creating an entirely new linguistic challenge. Given these issues, you can begin to understand that it takes far more than language proficiency to adapt dialogue or narration for subtitling.