Working Wednesday: The Voice Acting Skills Involved in Dubbing


With the massive growth of streaming and digital networks, companies like Netflix are bringing tons of international movies out of the vaults to be dubbed into English and other key languages. Although it looks easy, dubbing is an art form in and of itself. It requires training and very specific skills, and there are many ways to do it. Dubbing for films is another part of this massive trend. Today, we take you inside the studio with Daxx George, our 11 year old son, who is dubbing efforts (mostly sounds, very few words), for a kid that was unable to be mic’d because he was riding a bike, and then performed a stunt with wires. You do hear the original actor in production, but the director was unable to use his voice.

The goal of good dubbing is to watch the characters, emulate the way they look, look at your script, and glance back up at the screen, all while fitting the new words right into the character’s mouth without sounding like you are reading.

Oh, and acting! Sound easy? That’s what an actor friend of ours thought at a party.

“You guys get paid for that? It’s so easy.”

Being the kind friends that we are, we invited him to come in to work on a show we cast and give it a shot. He walked into the studio with a puffed out chest. He definitely was going to prove to us how easy dubbing is. We played him the scene, he rubbed his hands together, cracked his neck, planted his feet and after the 3 starting beeps for sound and performance, he froze. “Let’s give this a shot!” he said, not knowing that he missed his first cue. Kindly, we re-rolled. Beep. Beep. Beep. Again, he tried to take the words off the page and get them into the mouth of his character. He trailed behind what the on-screen actor was saying by at least two words and many frames.

“One more shot? Sure thing! We wanted him to see how EASY he said it was.

Third time’s a charm, right? Nope. Epic fail. Although we did want him to succeed, we couldn’t help, but smirk a tiny bit.
Under his breath, he mumbled, (drum roll please…)

“Okay, I’m sorry. This is not as easy as it looks.”

We were good with that. We ended up talking about the skills involved and showed him how to do it. The entire thing felt intimidating to him.

After years of practice, it is a matter of muscle memory and just getting into the groove of knowing your script and watching your character intently. The words and adaptation may not always fit, but as actors, we can help to make the necessary changes and our characters come to life, and in so many instances, make the entire piece better than the original.

Next week, we’ll take you inside of another session where Grant dubs using a band, also known in the dubbing world as Rhythmo Band and Voice Q. This too, is a skill unlike any we have seen. We recently voice casted a high profile film and we had to make sure that every person who was hired knew how to use the band. It has a learning curve that requires strong concentration and focus



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