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We recently caught up with Charles Fathy CEO of Encore Voices and Creative Director at Roundabout Entertainment to get his insights on localization technology and its impact on dubbing for animation.
Charles Fathy comments on the lip-synch precision required to meet consumer demand, technology and workflow efficiencies required to deliver over 8000 lip-synch quality minutes within 12 months for the world's leading SVOD, OTT and EST platforms.
What is the current animation project you are working on?
“81-minute award-winning drama and fantasy animation.”
What is this project about?
“It’s a beautiful and poetic dramatic story told through animation.”
What were the challenges with this project?
“An important challenge in animation is that the animated characters do not have a real personality like human actors do. The actors have to create one and the choices are unlimited. They do not have to stay close to the choices the original actors made, but can come up with their own; a freedom that isn’t part of the traditional dubbing process. The challenges are then connected to the casting and the performances. Casting creative actors who can bring their own suggestions to the studio, and making sure all the voices work cohesively is of utmost importance.”
What are the key workflow problems to solve?
“The key challenges to overcome are within the adaptation workflow; matching the voices and the actors’ performances with a wide range of the options are exciting but can also be overwhelming.
For example, with animated characters, there are more options when it comes to translating and adapting the dialogue as the precision of the lip-sync dubbing isn’t as accurate as it is in a movie with human actors, yet that brings its own challenges such as spotting or creating the right reactions, even if we don’t see them. It is therefore important to have a strong team of adaptors and an open communication channel where they can agree on certain types of reactions that will bring the characters to life and make it more ‘human’. It’s all about being a consistent cohesive unit.”
What are the key sector trends driving change?
“The level of quality and accuracy of dubbing work has significantly increased in recent years, even in animation. The precision expected is nothing like it used to be. The movement of the mouth is more realistic because it’s done in motion capture which significantly brings up the dubbing game and provides more realistic images which call for a more accurate dubbing then what we have seen in the past.”
What are the key consumer trends driving change?
“More and more consumers now want to watch content in their native language. Subtitles are no longer as popular and dubbed versions are expected to be as good as the original versions.”
What are the key partnerships have you established to remain competitive in recent years?
“I originally started as a French actor and voice director in Los Angeles back in the early 2000s and then as the work increased saw an opportunity to start a French dubbing company. In 2008 we established Encore Voices which quickly evolved and also offers voice-over and audio description in 5 languages including English.
With the arrival of SVOD, OTT, and EST platforms, such as NETFLIX, Amazon, AppleTV, HULU, Disney+, and Warner Media, we saw an opportunity to efficiently streamline quality lip-sync dubbing with efficient workflows across the globe. With more original content being produced in foreign territories, English dubbing has allowed us to produce localized content for the US market.
To meet the requirements of content owners and consumers we identified people, places, and technology as critical areas to transform. While collaborating on several large projects in 2018 with Roundabout Entertainment and VoiceQ it became obvious who our transformation partners should be.
Roundabout Entertainment is one of the largest independent post-production facilities providing creative and technical services for motion pictures, television shows, documentaries and other types of entertainment content. Their commitment to the end-user experience, staff recruitment, workflow efficiency, meeting deadlines, exceeding expectations in a world-class working environment is second to none. In 2019 we formalized this partnership validating its value and strength by delivering 162 episodes (14 different series), 6 feature films, for a total of over 8000 lip-synch quality minutes within 12 months. A staggering 40% improvement year-on-year!
On the software side, we were searching for modern voice synchronization tech and the ‘perfect rhythmoband’ to ensure efficient lip-synch quality dubbing. Between 2016 - 2017 we tested a variety of options and came across VoiceQ from New Zealand, which I had heard of 8 years prior, and found the 3.0 series feature set exceptional. We started using it immediately and now use it for all dubbing and audio description projects. In 2017 we formalized our partnership as an official BETA tester for VoiceQ which gave us real-time input into their R&D process. Along with other global BETA partners we have influenced the development of over 100 features within 400 days! That has to be some kind of innovation record!”
What areas does VoiceQ offer the most value?
“Encore Voices has gained incredible value in terms of script management and recording time. The continuity in the recording that is possible with VoiceQ is also quite valuable; there is no more ‘chopped’ recording; the fluidity and consistency of a scene significantly bring up the quality of the end result. The source connects actors working from a different location is also quite convenient and easy to use.”
Why did you choose Voice Q as a solution and what makes it better than the competition?
“We recognize the value of VoiceQ’s custom interactive rythmoband feature, and the huge range of innovations they keep developing, and we believe that they will soon become the sector norm as they are essential to reach a higher level of accuracy in dubbing.”
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