Posted on : July 26th 2021
Author : Sanjeev Kumar Jain
The world is awash with thousands of OTT players and an even greater number of TV stations giving people umpteen choices for entertainment and information. While most of them show original programming, a few others air popular dubbed series.
A DTH platform in India runs a separate channel to show dubbed South Korean programs, while an Indian movie station shows Hollywood movies dubbed into Hindi all day. Several such stations across the world show dubbed programs.
Dubbing content is a big thing today and has become popular with both the entertainment industry and people willing to pay to watch foreign-language movies, reality shows, comedy, and dance shows and other programs.
From the days of manual dubbing to the use of technology, the dubbing industry has come a long way today. However, studios still prefer to use voice artists as technology is still in its infancy. Even though technology is right for any industry as it improves processes and fastens the work, it has its limitations. In dubbing, it is still evolving and is years away from being as close to accuracy as human intervention.
Let’s see why human touch is important in the dubbing process:
Only a human can understand and master all nuances of speech like pitch, air-in-voice, throat compression, projection, movement, and intonation to deliver complete and continuous sentences. Also, only humans can figure out and make a judgment on when or how to change pitch based on new information or contexts.
Each country has a different culture and different lexicons like proper nouns, slangs, and idioms unique to that country. Humans can understand these much better than technology. Sure, technology can help here but is not even close to or has the intricacy to react to these cultures.
A word can have different meanings. It could denote one thing in a particular region, and mean something completely different in another. While technology can translate direct words directly, there may or may not be any connection. We need humans to dub content because while technology can do the translations, it does not mean it understands the meaning or context completely. This can severely impact the intended meaning of the word. There are several languages that have words with different meanings, and only a human can understand and make sense of that.
Every human has a different voice and accent, and the way they speak during different occasions, times and places also differs. Why do you think that you can recognize your sibling or a friend’s voice even in a crowd. This is because every human voice has a unique tone that makes them different from others. This quality in a human voice gives us a sense of connection and helps us identify each other.
What’s funny in one language may not be be funny in another. Although people today have a better sense of humor due to exposure to entertainment and different cultures, there are still times when one can find it difficult to understand puns, sly innuendos, jokes, and nuanced cultural references. A professional dubbing artist can turn this around in a much better way and make sure that the humor is relevant, intact, and is able to convey the intended message in the right way.
When it comes to dubbing, the tone and the voice help a person understand a speaker’s intent, and this has to be analyzed accurately in the dubbed language. This is something only humans can do, although technology is getting there.
Dubbing a movie or any other piece of content is all about replacing the original language with another language. It sounds fairly simple when one looks at it from the outside, but a lot goes on in the background. To ensure there is accuracy in the sentence length, timing, and the syllables numbers used, it is important that the dialogue matches the lip movements on the screen. This is not an easy task when there are several languages involved.
The dubbing artist or the company works in tandem with several other departments to ensure that accuracy and performance are maintained.
The final product is as close to reality as possible because humans know how and where to pitch in with the words required to make the perfectly dubbed product. Dubbing allows one to see the content as it was intended, unlike subtitling that allows one to hear the movie as intended. It can be safely argued that dubbing helps reach more audience, such as those who cannot read or have poor or no eyesight, and children and those with dyslexia.
Dubbing also helps one retain the content’s artistic value as well as interpret emotional, comical, and dramatic scenes the way they should be seen and understood.
In a December 2019 article, news magazine The Economist said that dubbing as an art form is making a comeback mostly due to the rising numbers of OTT players and people’s interest in watching quality shows from across the world. Quoting exclusively about the ‘Spectros’ show, which was being dubbed in a Los Angeles studio, the news magazine said that the show’s potential audience is spread across the world.
Over the last few years, there has been a boom in the popularity of foreign films and TV shows and entertainment companies are increasing their selection of foreign language films and series and dubbing them for their audience.
The market for dubbed programming is huge and will increase immensely in the next few years and humans will continue to play a major role in getting the right messaging across.
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