TABLE OF CONTENT
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, and a brief history of the dubbing industry.
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.
- The director should articulate a clear and achievable goal to the adapter, casting director (if budgeted), voice cast, mixers, and partner project managers.
- 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 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.
- Prior to recording, the director, adapter, and Netflix Language Production Manager (for select projects) should have a live read-through of the adapted script whenever possible (in the case of a series, the first episodes only).
- During the recording timeline, the director should provide feedback to the adapter, 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 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 cultural misrepresentation 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 in its wording and phrasing
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. Instead, appropriate voices should be cast for the attributes of the character that will align with specific expectations of the target audience (for example, the pitch range of a character in one language would not necessarily work in the target language).
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, but understands this is not always possible in certain markets.
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. In the case of Nonfiction and Unscripted content, while sync is not a concern, appropriate attention should be paid to the creative intent of the title, so that VO supports the viewer's experience, rather than simply delivering the translation.
- After signing an NDA, the dubbing actor should be given access to the adapted script and video, if possible, in advance of their sessions. This enables them to prepare and perform with greater ease in the studio. Less time explaining, more time recording.
- The dubbing actor should physically move in the booth to change perspective on the mic, in accordance with the onscreen performance (as long as sufficient recording volume is achieved). This is only for lip sync dubbing, not for VO.
- 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.
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
- The Netflix Dubbing Story (link to come)
- History of Dubbing UCAN Edition
- Netflix Dialect Strategy
- Live Action Recording Recommendations
- Mixing Recommendations
- 5.1 Mix Room Guidelines