Image supplied by GOLDCREST POST NEW YORK
The latest research by NIMZDI reaffirms the translation and language services industry is resilient and adaptable. Revenues of the 100 largest language service providers in the language services industry grew by 6.8% from 2019 to 2020. From 2018 to 2019 this figure was 11.5%; so while growth has slowed down, there is still growth.
In this case study, we take a deeper look at the Anime market, pioneers and the role of technology in producing one of the most iconic anime series of the last two decades - Pokémon. In 2020 the global Anime Market was valued at USD 24.23 Billion and is expected to reach USD 43.73 Billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 8.80% over the forecast period.
Anime is the Japanese form of animation – word for word. This scrupulous style and form of animation originated in Japan characterized by its vivid imagination and bright colour usage. The thematic elements of fantasy and fiction combined with science give this style its unique look and feel. This meticulously thought and designed animation is nowadays produced all around the world intending its huge fanbase not just in the Japanese but all over the world.
The story is behind "anime" – the Japanese animēshiyon is a loanword from English animation, which then made its journey back to English as anime. So, the Japanese borrowed it from English and the English took it back modified. This modified version of animation became the basis of many popular TV shows and movies that excite people to know more about anime. There are two common ways to enjoy the anime world, subbed anime and dubbed anime. A “sub” is an anime-type that is shown in its original Japanese voice with subtitles of another language (mostly English). While the “dub” anime is the one that is released with a new re-scripted voice – voice actors speaking another language recorded as voiceover to make it suitable for a worldwide audience without the effort of reading through the subtitles.
We recently caught up with Allan Gus Re-recording and ADR Engineer at GOLDCREST POST New York to get his thoughts on the future of work and technology for anime localization. Allan comments on what it takes to achieve efficient, trusted, and quality localization.
When was GOLDCREST POST New York founded?
Who was the primary influencer in setting up the business?
"Nick Quested is executive director and owner of GOLDCREST Films, where he has built one of the premier documentary brands in the world, winning two Emmys for his work. Quested has served as a producer on over 35 films, including Sebastian Junger’s The Last Patrol, Korengal, and the PGA- and twice Emmy-nominated Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?; the Oscar-nominated Restrepo; and National Geographic Doc Films’ DuPont Award-winning Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. Quested is also an award-winning music video director, working with such artists as Dr. Dre, Nas, Puffy, Sting, Master P, Cash Money, and Trick Daddy. His credits include “Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives,” “Rubble Kings,” “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” “Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers,” “Stolen Seas,” “The List,” “Tell Spring Not to Come This Year,” and “Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC.” His love of post-production motivated him to create an all-inclusive post facility that catered to the needs of the independent filmmaker. A collaborative environment that gave creative talent a place to fulfil their vision."
What are the primary areas of the business?
"ADR, Color, Editorial both On and Off-Line, Mixing, Picture Post-production, Sound Post-production, and VFX"
What are the key workflow problems to solve?
"During the COVID-19 outbreak, there was an obvious reluctance to return to the in-studio workflow. Many productions shut down, but some, like Pokémon, continued. We had to figure out an effective way to record the talent remotely and also safely, in-studio and remotely, while not compromising quality."
What are the key sector trends driving change?
"Many voice-over artists are now working from their home-based studios. We have to efficiently interface with their setups, and continue delivering quality dubbing work. These artists are generally not experienced technicians, so we need to overcome a variety of technical limitations, and acoustical environments they are recording in. Client deadlines don’t change, so all of this has to be resolved without additional delays to the production."
What are the key consumer trends driving change?
"The rising popularity of English Dubbing. English dubs of anime can be great for English-speaking viewers because they can hear the characters speak in their language. Because they are more familiar with the language, they can recognize the small quirks and changes in the tones of voice. In addition to this, some people’s comprehension is more speech-based, and they retain information better when hearing it rather than reading it as a subtitle. So for these people, hearing dialogue in a television show will be retained more than reading. In addition, blind people with sight issues who do not know Japanese can benefit from dubs. They may not be able to read the subtitles, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy a fun Naruto battle. In the end, dubbing is very inclusive and helpful for a growing number of viewers."
Leadership, staff and great talent have played a huge role in your success over the years. Can you share any insights on your approach and who has influenced you?
"I have been very fortunate to have worked with great leaders in the Post Production world, and at the same time I have worked with incredible talent. I started my career at DuArt Media Services back in 1985. There I worked for Irwin Young, a pioneering film innovator, angel-to-the-artists and colour-blind engineer who taught me a lot about the Post Production world. Mr. Young is a legend in the Independent filmmaker world, and he gave me a great environment to learn my craft.
Learning post-production in film was the best way to learn my craft and prepare for the technical changes that were quickly coming. The team I started with at DuArt Media Services would go on to become the future leaders in the industry. This was all before digital audio workstations (DAWs). We were working with flatbeds, and film dubbers. It was an amazing time.
One of my co-workers, Dom Rom later went on to become a major player in the industry and is now the Managing Director of GOLDCREST POST in New York. Because of Dom’s knowledge and experience, I am truly fortunate to be working at one of the top facilities in New York City."
With all the advancements in hiring great people, disrupting workflows and implementing technology what has been the quantitative and qualitative impact of these efforts?
"We all know now what the difficulties of disrupting workflows can do to a project. COVID-19 brought another layer of complexity including; remote recordings, remote monitoring and a combination of both. Sometimes we have the talent in-house while the Director is remote, and sometimes the talent and Director are remote from the recording studio. This has added many variables to the production."
Allan comments in his role as Producer and Engineer during the Pokémon project what it takes to achieve a quality performance from the talent.
The Pokémon franchise took the world by storm beginning in 1995 when it launched first in Japan. It is managed in the rest of the world by our client, The Pokémon Company International. The Pokémon animated series is a big part of the enduring franchise with 24 seasons as well as 24 animated movies, most of which center around the iconic duo of Ash and his Pikachu as they explore a world inhabited by creatures known as Pokémon and human characters, many of which train Pokémon for competitive battles.
What are the core aspects of the Pokémon project?
"We are given an English translation of the Japanese script, and we are tasked to record the English talent for each episode."
What were the challenges in the project?
"When dubbing any show into another language, the obvious challenges are creating a final product that retains the original story and doesn’t look like it has been ‘dubbed’. The interesting thing about the Pokémon series is the original Japanese production has a much softer lip-sync than the English version we create.
We want it to appear that the animated characters are drawn as if they are speaking our language. The Japanese script is translated, and then painstakingly adapted to the animated lip flap. It takes a team to adapt each episode in order to maintain the story and still keep the feeling of the brand."
What are the key workflow problems to solve?
"The Pokémon show is a weekly show, so it is critical to keep the entire process on schedule. Scripts need to be translated, then each line needs to be ‘time coded’… In and out points for each line are logged and added to the script. The time-coded script is then adapted to better match the lip flap of the characters. (Creative writing is essential during this process in order to keep the essence of the story that originated in Japanese).
Talent is recorded for each episode. This was always done in the studio until the Covid outbreak but now is done both in-house and remotely. There is a lot of time needed to prep for each dubbing session. The dubbing engineer would have to spot countdown beeps for each line, in order to cue the talent, and this alone can be a time-consuming process.
Once the talent recording is complete, each episode needs to be mixed with the sound effects and the newly created musical score. (Most of the music in the Japanese version is replaced by a new, original score). Finally, the episode needs to be mixed."
Where does VoiceQ provide the most workflow value?
"The dubbing process had almost always been done line by line. The talent would record numerous takes to deliver the best reading and timing for each line. While looking down at a script, it can be difficult to concentrate on both performance and delivery in order to get the best results. VoiceQ provides us with the ideal solution.
The script and video are imported into VoiceQ, and in no time, all of our countdown beeps are spotted into the DAW, and the adapted script appears on the screen. The talent no longer has to be looking at a script for the line, while also trying to look up at the screen to match lip flap. This is an amazing improvement in our workflow. As the text scrolls by on the screen, the talent has a much better feeling for the timing of each line. This allows us to record a scene, rather than one line at a time.
The voice-over artists have all said that this allows them to ‘act’ rather than recite. We can do numerous takes of a scene in half the time it would take if we were recording line by line. The end result is a much better show being recorded in less time. VoiceQ keeps track of what has been recorded, and we never miss a cue, which was a huge problem when working with scripts on paper or iPad!"
Why did you choose VoiceQ as a competitive solution?
"With VoiceQ, the time spent in the studio recording the talent is so much more efficient. Prior to VoiceQ, we might have averaged 25 to 30 cues an hour. With VoiceQ, we have doubled the number of cues and get a much better quality performance from our talent."
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