Casting For Dubbing: Six Points To Avoid The Unknown Factor.

Author:Barreau, Jacques

Over the years I cast a lot of great voices, from the Looney Tunes to the Star Wars/ Clone Wars characters. I defined a methodology for dubbing actors worldwide to be able to recreate these iconic voices as close as possible to the original. But live-action media is a very different animal.

Unlike the most iconic animated characters who became international brands, worldwide voice consistency is not the main requirement for live-action media. The biggest movie stars rarely sound the same in the different countries where their films are dubbed. So where is the challenge if not in voice matching? It is in everything else: acting, recording speed, availability, location, and how to take direction.

The main challenges when casting for live-action language dubbing are:

Established voices: In the biggest dubbing countries, like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea, the main film personalities (usually Americans), have an "established voice." This means that they are dubbed by the same dubbing actor in all their movies.

This is not a contractual agreement; it's just a cultural element. While it is good and logical to have the same voice always done by the same actor, things get trickier when a dubbing actor is the established voice of several movie stars. In this case, can dubbing directors choose different voice actors to dub different celebrities? Yes and no. Even if they are brave enough to choose a different actor than the established voice, potentially facing the ire of social media, they will also have to consider the financial aspect of things.

"Time is money" being a universal rule, dubbing actors often become a personality's established voice, not because they sound the same but because they dub well and, most importantly, they dub fast. This is why a small group of good actors dub most of the movies, resulting in that feeling that a lot of stars have the same voice in movies or in TV series internationally.

The dubbing director will also have to take into consideration where the dubbing actors reside. When an established voice is in a different city from the rest of the cast, the recording will have to be done in different studios and the engineers will do their best to use a similar set-up so the voices have the same sound quality and the same color, which is never an easy task.

American Dubbing: Audiences in the United States don't have the same approach as it is not yet a dubbing country. When handling...

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