Animated content for kids – including feature films, TV shows and web series – has seen a surge in dubbing requests. Digital technology has made animation more streamlined and cost-effective, and online streaming has made distribution much more rapid and far-reaching. So what do multimedia localization providers need to know to localize this content?
This post lists 3 tips that every video localization professional must know to dub kids’ animated shows.
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Why the surge in dubbing for animated kids’ films and TV shows?
There are multiple factors. Again, digital animation technology has made the process itself much quicker and much more cost-effective. This has led to a proliferation of content, especially as new studios pop up around the world. Moreover, the growth in distribution channels – especially streaming and OTT – has made this content much more widely available to international audiences, who demand it in their native language. And of course, the content is created for children who have varying levels of literacy (or who can’t read at all), so that subtitling isn’t a viable option for most of it.
So what do entertainment voice-over & dubbing localization professionals need to know to take on these shows? Start here.
1. Different kind of voice-over and dubbing difficulty.
In general, content created for kids has shorter lines, less dialogue and simpler constructions. On top of that, animation lip-sync usually has more leeway because it’s not done to a real person’s lips – that is to say, it’s a little easier to get a good sync match without exact vocalizations. This is good news for video localization and script translation timelines.
However, kids’ content also has fewer shots, and characters often stay on screen for the full length of their lines. That means these shows won't have cuts in which to “hide” lines that need to be a bit long – something that more standard back-and-forth narrative editing allows. This is critical to keep in mind for languages that expand. For example, Spanish dubbing projects may require stricter line lengths.
2. Different voice talent casting and performance requirements.
Performances for animated kids’ content can be a little broader, or even a little cartoonish. While this may suggest that they’re easier to “hit,” in fact, this can be quite difficult for some dubbing talents. It’s critical to know which foreign-language voice-over talents can hit the tone needed for kids' content – keep in mind that not everyone can do this.
Likewise, a lot of kids' shows, movies or web series include songs, often sung by multiple characters. Not all shows localize songs, but if this is part of the scope, it’ll require casting voice talents who can sing, as well as hiring a director and studio engineer who can keep them on pitch. Finally, don’t assume that the songs will be easy just because they’re on a kids’ show – they may include tricky key changes and syncopated time signatures, like on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
3. Your content may require casting kid talents.
Finally, many kids' shows have main characters who are kids themselves, and who are recorded in English with kid talents. Kid talents present multiple challenges to voice-over and dubbing production, so they must be factored into the quoting, casting and production timelines. Depending on the actual age of the talents cast, your project may require creative post-production workflows to deal with limited dubbing or even reading ability, as well as an agile studio engineer who can keep the sessions on a good pace to avoid talent boredom. Of course, JBI Studios has decades of experience dubbing kids’ content and recording with kid talents – and we’re prepared for what that entails.
For more information on recording with young talents, see our previous post What You Must Know to Work with Kid Voice-Over & Dubbing Talents.
Lock the full dubbing localization strategy before production
It’s critical that you understand the full project requirements before starting post-production – otherwise, you may have serious budget or timeline issues. For example, if your client decides to localize songs mid-way through the sessions, you may have to figure out replacements for voice talents who can’t sing, or even re-cast them. And, if you’re casting kid talents – especially for main roles – you’ll have to buffer timelines and prioritize their sessions, depending on their exact age and ability. While it’s true that proper preparation is essential to any multimedia localization project, the “wildcard” factors of dubbing kids’ animated content make a thorough setup absolutely critical to project success.