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TABLE OF CONTENT

     Introduction

     Dub Director

     Adaptation

     Casting

     Voice Acting

     Mixing

     Guidelines and Recommendations per Vertical/Type of Content

     Resources

 

Introduction

Netflix views dubbing not as merely a language asset but as a production.  In order to achieve the highest level of creative excellence, we encourage going beyond common practice of what is possible in a dub.  The goal is to build trust with our content creators by closely aligning the global versions with their original vision and with our audience by giving them a seamless experience which will maintain the “suspension of linguistic disbelief.”

This highest level of creative excellence in Netflix dubbing is achieved through:

  • Contextual understanding of the creative intent of the original content
  • Appropriate representation in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our workflow
  • Natural phrasing in adapted dialogue to conform to target languages
  • Highly accurate lip sync
  • Authentic voice acting
  • Immersive mixing of dialogue with the original soundtrack

The following are overall guiding principles for key creative players in the dubbing workflow,

creative guidelines per vertical/type of content, an overview of the Netflix Dubbing Story,

Dub Director

Guiding principle:

The dub or artistic director is the ship’s captain and is responsible for the project’s overall success.  Along with the editor and mixer, they hear every word recorded, and their goal is to build a dub that sounds unified, authentic, and clear.  Through adaptation review, casting, performance notes, pick-ups, and mix review, the dub director’s north star is the delivery of a dub that is as congruent as possible with the original content creator’s artistic intentions, and that lands in the most authentic way possible for the local audiences.

Additional Recommendations

  • The director develops and oversees the execution of the creative vision of the project in that particular language.
  • The director should create a positive collaborative environment, in which every team member feels empowered to do their best work for the good of the project.
  • The director and project manager should maintain an awareness of the project’s timeline and budget, including note keeping of loops/words per hour, casting and scheduling of incidentals, and reviewing requested pick-ups.
  • In cooperation with the studio, the director should keep an accurate accounting of any dialogue which is rewritten, for post-project review and analysis.
  • On highly complex projects the director and language project manager should do a script review to make sure that it's aligned with the original intent and any potential pressure points have been addressed. This should also be considered for song heavy productions.
  • During the recording timeline, the director and project manager should provide feedback to the translator, as new scripts are being written.
  • After early scenes or first episodes are recorded, the director should review those performances and consider revisiting / re-recording them, as characters and overall tone has become more established.
  • The director should always give a final creative sign off on every title before delivery, to ensure that the original intent is upheld and the dubbing director's creative approach has been carried all the way through.

Adaptation

Guiding principle:

The rigorous practice of adaptation is equal in importance to the dub or artistic director, because without a great adaptation, additional time will be spent correcting problems during expensive studio hours and we risk the chance of cultural misrepresentation which will lead to viewer complaints and negative media attention.

The adapter is responsible for creating dialogue which:

  • Honors the creative intent of the original 
  • Honors and appropriately adapts (if needed) important cultural references
  • Achieves as close to “perfect” sync as possible (except for VO dubs)
  • Sounds natural in the target language, both in its wording and phrasing 

Casting

Guiding Principle:

Exact voice matching of on screen talent is not always the primary goal of great casting, since vocal volume, pitch, articulation, and attack may vary widely from language to language. 

This means a voice match cannot be prioritized above performance, unless a certain vocal quality is specific to a character trait, or part of the original audio is being used. In any other case we prioritize capturing the best performance in order to create an authentic representation of the original version, and hence, the most credible experience for the audience. 

Since this is a subjective process, casting decisions should be made solely by the dub director, or in case of high profile titles, under the guidance of the original creative team and/or in collaboration with the Netflix language production manager.  Attention should be paid to authentic representation of identity.  In the case of younger characters, Netflix prefers age appropriate voice talent, especially for live action content to capture the authenticity of these characters, unless this strategy inevitably comprises the end result of the dub. 

Voice Acting

Guiding principle:

Great voice acting in dubbing involves a unique skill set, as it never calls attention to itself, but rather seamlessly fits into the onscreen performance.  To this end, the work of the dubbing actor is a balancing act between authentically embodying the onscreen character from within (through an empathetic understanding of the character’s motivations and backstory) and rigorously observing the onscreen physical behavior of the character from without, including but not limited to lip sync.

Exceptional sync involves not only mouth movement, but also total body engagement, with particular emphasis on breathing.  If an exceptional performance and exceptional sync cannot be achieved both at the same time, we prioritize performance, as exceptional acting can sell a less exceptional sync.

Additional Recommendations:

  • For selected projects, the dubbing talent should be given access to the watermarked video and adaptation in advance of their sessions (after signing a NDA). This enables them to prepare and perform with greater ease in the studio.  
  • For live action lip-sync dubbing we encourage the dubbing actors to be able to physically move in the booth, in accordance with the onscreen performance (as long as this does not compromise recording quality).  
  • For a series, a pre-mix of Ep 1 should be reviewed by the director if possible, to help set the tone for subsequent episodes.

Mixing

Guiding principle:

The goal of a great mix is to make dubbed dialogue sound as close to production sound as possible.  Since dubbed dialogue is recorded very differently than production dialogue (with the exception of ADR), care must be taken to blend dialogue into the physical and aesthetic environment of the content so that it doesn’t sound “on top” or “up front” of the original mix..  As the final stage of the workflow, a bad mix can diminish the impact of every step of this creative process. 

Guidelines and Recommendations per Vertical/Type of Content

Resources

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