Client

PIXELOGIC MEDIA

Industry

Dubbing

Products Used

VoiceQ Pro, VoiceQ Writer

The Dubbing of Prey in Comanche Nation’s language, “Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ”

Prey, a movie released last year into the Predator franchise, featured all that sci-fi horror fans expected, with something extra – strong links to the Comanche Nation. A lead character, Naru, is from the Comanche Nation, and a producer from the Comanche Nation ensured cultural accuracy. Prey has also been dubbed into the Nation’s language, “Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ”.

To get some insights into the process, we recently caught up with Dr. Katheryn Pewenofkit Briner (Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache), Director of Language Planning and Development for the Comanche Nation and Charles Fathy, Director of English and Creative Dubbing Services at Pixelogic Media | Founder of Encore Voices.

Can you share a little about the origins and aspirations of Comanche Nation Language Planning and Development?

(KB) We’re a program of the tribal government of the Comanche Nation with a mission to revitalize and reclaim the Comanche language, helping our people speak and think in Comanche. Without our language, the Comanche Nation is no longer connected to the world, the land and to each other in a very special way. We provide the resources that will allow our language to be used and grown into the far future.

I always like to pay respect to the group that laid our foundation – the Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee. They’ve been working hard to promote our language and culture since 1992. We absolutely wouldn’t be able to do what we do today without their hard work.

Katheryn, can you share how you got involved in media dubbing?

(KB) As a language worker, I have dubbed small projects with the Collaborative Language Institute, a two-week intensive training workshop. I am also familiar with ELAN, a tool we use for transcription, but this was the first big project I have worked on. It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to showcase our language in a brand-new feature film.

And you, Charles?

(CF) I came to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career and to make a Western – a childhood dream of mine. Well, I haven’t done it yet – writing a page a year, I came to the realization that it would need several lives to complete it! But sometimes life chooses another trail along your path. Down my  acting path, I specialized, making  a career in the dubbing field. Today, I’m very happy and honored to have used this expertise to help preserve a language

Katheryn, what was the inspiration behind the dubbing of PREY into Nʉmʉnʉʉ”?

(KB) There are only a handful of people who have Comanche as their first language – it is important that Comanche be preserved. We wanted to show people that our language is a living, breathing gift from Creator – one that can thrive again. People can hear it, experience it, and learn about it from the film.

Was there any rationale behind the choice of Prey as a project?

(KB) Horror and action films are great vehicles for language, because there’s usually not a whole lot of dialogue. Prey actually has a balance of dialogue and commands, such as, ‘run’, ‘go’, or ‘sit still’, which are great for new speakers.

Were there any specific or unique workflow challenges for this project?

(CF) No, we had a very efficient workflow. With so few first-language speakers, two proficient learner-speakers worked together to record the adaptation and guide tracks.

Why did you choose VoiceQ as your preferred technology platform?

(CF) VoiceQ Writer’s interface enables efficient and accurate assessment of the original translated script. It looks at mouth movement (often called “lip flap”), the position of a character on the screen, the frame count, time code, and a host of other variables.
VoiceQ’s feature set provides unprecedented flexibility to make creative changes on the fly and create a “lip-sync-perfect script”. VoiceQ is the platform I use for all dubbing projects and I implemented it in the newly-created Dubbing Department at Pixelogic.

How did you accommodate the specific language marks used in the Comanche language to support the adaptors and voice talent?

(CF) VoiceQ Pro offers a karaoke-style platform, which was particularly useful for voice actors who had little or no functional knowledge of the Nʉmʉnʉʉ  language.

(KB) We used a mix of our alphabet and English phonetics to accommodate the needs of those who were non-speakers of our language.

Did the voice actors on this project require special training to understand Comanche?

(KB) Not really – we used repetition and also helped actors understand which words needed emphasis. They would then listen to the delivery of their English lines to capture the feel of the moment.

Did the adaptors on this project require special training to master VoiceQ?

(KB) We didn’t require any special training, because we had Charles’ super-user expertise. Having gone through this experience, I am definitely interested in further training on VoiceQ, because we want to dub films and shows for our learners and become more self-sufficient.

How long did the whole process take?

(CF) The entire script adaptation took just three and a half days using VoiceQ Writer. Then the recording took ten days, using a mix of in-studio and remote recording.

What are your hopes for this film, Kathryn?

(KB) We really want to share our language and culture with our tribal citizens, descendants, and the wider world in a way that feels authentic. We are a real, complex people, reclaiming our language and growing our speaking community again. This film is a testament to that hard work!

You can watch Prey in Comanche on Hulu (US) and Disney+ (non-US).

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