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- For dubbing in music recording, see Dubbing (music)
In filmmaking, dubbing is the process of recording or replacing voices for a motion picture. The term is most commonly used in reference to voices recorded which do not belong to the original actors and speak in a different language than the actor is speaking, resulting in a mismatch of the words heard by the viewer and the movements of the actor's lips. Dubbing can also be used to describe the process of re-recording lines by the actor who originally spoke them. The process is technically known as automated dialogue replacement, or ADR.
Although dubbing is most common with film, television series are sometimes dubbed as well (mostly popular Hollywood series and serialized Japanese anime that have received foreign distribution). Foreign-language films and videos are often dubbed into the local language of their target markets to increase their popularity with the local audience by making it more accessible.
Automated dialogue replacement
Automated dialogue replacement (ADR) is a film sound technique involving the re-recording of dialogue after photography. It is also called post-synchronization (post-sync) in the UK.
In conventional film production, a production sound mixer records dialogue during photography, but several uncontrollable issues, including traffic and animal noise, during principal photography can cause the production sound to be unusable.
When the film is in post-production, a Supervising Sound Editor or ADR Supervisor reviews all of the dialogue in the film and rules which actor lines will have to be replaced using the ADR technique.
ADR is recorded during an ADR session. An actor, usually the original actor on set, is called to a sound studio equipped with video playback equipment and sound playback and recording equipment. The actor wears headphones and is shown the film of the line that must be replaced, and often he will be played the production sound recording. The film is then projected several times, and the actor attempts to re-perform the line while watching the image on the screen, while an ADR Recordist records the performances. Several takes are made, and based on the quality of the performance and sync, one is selected and edited by and ADR Editor for use in the film.
There are variations of the ADR process. ADR does not have to be recorded in a studio, but can be recorded on location, with mobile equipment; this process was pioneered by Matthew Wood of Skywalker Sound for The Phantom Menace. ADR can also be recorded without showing the actor the image he must match, but only by having him listen to the performance. This process was used for years at Universal Studios.
Although actors are trained to sing, few are of professional quality. Therefore, if a character must sing well in a movie, the actor usually uses ADR to redub their singing. This technique were used by Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen in The Lord of the Rings.
Dubbing is often used to localize a foreign movie. The new voice track will usually be spoken by a voice artist. In some countries, such as France, Italy and Spain, these artists are almost as well known as the Hollywood actors and actresses whose voices they dub. In the US however, most actors who regularly perform this duty are generally little known or unknown outside of niche circles such as anime fandom, for example. Many of these actors also employ pseudonyms or go uncredited due to Actor's Guild regulations or simple desire to disassociate themselves with the role. Adding or replacing non-vocal sounds, such as sound effects, is the task of a foley artist.
Subtitles may be used instead of dubbing, as different countries have different traditions regarding the choice between dubbing and subtitling. In most English-speaking countries, dubbing is comparatively rare. In the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, films and television programmes are shown in the original language (usually English) with subtitles, and only some cartoons and children programs are dubbed. In Portugal this is also the case, but in Brazil, television programmes are dubbed in Portuguese, although films are subtitled. For the German language market, virtually all films and foreign television shows are dubbed. There are few opportunities to watch Hollywood movies in the original version, even in the largest cities there are only a few theaters aiming at more sophisticated moviegoers, which screen original versions with subtitles or no translation at all. American television series are only available in English on DVD, if at all.
On DVDs with higher translation budgets, the option for both types will often be provided to account for individuals' preferences; purists exist for both types of translation. For small markets (small language area or films for a select audience) subtitling is more suitable because it is cheaper. For films for small children, who can not yet read, or not yet very fast, dubbing is necessary.
Dubbing is occasionally used on network television broadcasts of films which have dialogue that the network executives or censors have decided to replace; this is usually done to remove profanity. In most cases, the original actor does not perform this duty; instead, an actor with a similar voice is called in. The results are sometimes seamless, but in many cases the voice of the replacement actor sounds nothing like the original performer, which becomes particularly noticeable when extensive dialogue needs to be replaced. Among the films considered notorious for using substitute actors that sound very different from their theatrical counterparts are the Smokey and the Bandit and Die Hard film series as shown on broadcasters such as TBS.
Dubbing into a foreign language does not always entail the deletion of the original language's lines; in some countries, performers may sometimes read the translated dialogue as a voiceover. This often occurs in Poland, where "lektories" read the translated dialogue in Polish. On special occasions, such as film festivals, live translation is often done by volunteers. See also dubtitle.
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