Dubbed Audio Style Guide - VO-Style Dubbing
This document contains a list of required practices when creating dubbed audio in VO-style (also known as UN-style) for Netflix content. Consult your Netflix representative for any specification not covered in this document. Please refer to the Lector dubbing guidelines for treatment on Lector style dubbing.
1. Translation Requirements
1.1 Main Dialogue
- All main dialogue in the source (original) language should be translated unless specifically noted.
- Due to timing limitations, some of the dialogue may be condensed/truncated as long as it retains all essential elements of the plot.
- Please refrain from dubbing redundant words such as character names and repetitions.
1.2 Character Names
- Do not translate proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne), unless directed by production or approved by Netflix. EXCEPTION: Famous historical/mythical characters and/or nicknames that might vary from language to language.
- Local pronunciation of character names can be used in the voice-over, as long as the names are consistently pronounced throughout the series.
1.3 On-screen Text Treatment
- On-screen text should only be included if plot pertinent and should be included in the Forced Narrative file (not dubbed).
- The on-screen main title card should not be voiced-over/translated.
- Episode titles should not be voiced-over/translated if they do not appear on screen. If on-screen, either as part of the principal photography or burned into video, please reference approved translations from KNP.
- On-screen episode titles should be included in the FN file.
- “A Netflix Original Documentary Series” and other Originals credits translations should be included in the FN file, using the Netflix approved translations.
- Opening and End Credits should not be dubbed, as these are usually not localized. Dub studio/voice credits should be conveyed by means of a Dub Card.
1.4 Foreign Languages
- For bilingual/multilingual shows or documentaries, foreign dialogue is typically better conveyed by means of a forced narrative file. In such cases, a forced narrative file for the foreign dialogue will be created as opposed to covering it in the voice-over. E.g. “Ugly Delicious”
- Seek advice from Netflix if it is unclear whether or not the show can be considered a multilingual show, if there is a high percentage of foreign dialogue that may disrupt a viewer’s experience (with too much forced narratives to read), or other related queries.
- Songs should be translated and included in the FN file (not dubbed) only if plot pertinent and if the rights have been granted. E.g. "Gaga: Five Foot Two"
Please obtain song clearance from the Netflix dubbing producer.
- Dialogue (including expletives) should be rendered as faithfully as possible, without using dialect or words that would otherwise introduce a level of obscenity not implied in the original content. Tone, register and context should match the original.
- If expletives are bleeped in the original content, do not recreate the bleep in the voice-over. This would create a jarring experience due to the likely misalignment of the bleep sounds. Instead, translate the censored expletives in a milder way, and keep the bleep in the original mix audible to convey the creative intent.
- KNPs/formality tables must be created and used for translation to ensure consistency across episodes and seasons. Translations should be completed prior to recording for QC purposes and for consistency throughout on-site metadata. Please discuss with your Netflix contact the most suitable KNP workflow for your project.
1.8 Archival Material
- To retain the authenticity, integrity and historical intent of archival source content, translate and include in FN file (do not dub). Seek advice from Netflix if it is unclear whether or not a line/scene is archival, or if there is a high percentage of archival that may disrupt a viewer’s experience (with too much FNs to read), or other related queries.
- Examples of commonly used archival material are: TV news footage, court footage, previously released movie/TV content, etc.; i.e., anything filmed outside of the film/series itself.
- For this VO-style dubbing, allow original dialogue to be heard at normal volume for a beat--usually 1-3 seconds, using best judgment of tone and rhythm of speaker, in addition to speed and length of time needed for the translation.
- Local pronunciation of character names, places or foreign words is acceptable.
- Please ensure pronunciation of key terms is consistent across episodes and seasons.
3. Technical Aspects
For information on audio mix and delivery formats, please reference the Netflix Originals Delivery Specifications.
- For a 5.1 OV Printmaster, dip center channel only. Only for very loud sections or for films with very wide dynamic range, it’s acceptable to dip Left and Right as well, no more than 6db.
- For a 2.0 Printmaster, dip both channels
- OV may be manually dipped when necessary. Voiceover may not be raised above loudness spec to overcome very loud OV sections.
- Dip OV 6-12 db, per mixer discretion. Dubbed audio should be clear and intelligible with natural presence of OV dialog underneath. These are subjective choices relating to the dynamics of the OV and the perceived volume of the OV and Voiceover.
- Side-chained compressors should not have attack time shorter than 2ms and longer than 15ms.
- OV level should hit Netflix LKFS spec for the territory.
- OV level should transition to/from dipped in no more than 5 secs, not rapidly but in a seamless way.
- Regarding EQ - VO should sound natural. Excessive boosting or dipping of frequencies should be avoided, except to address recording problems.
- Section 1.4: First bullet point clarification on forced narrative treatment. Second bullet point modified on multilingual shows.
- Section 1.6: Second bullet point added for treatment of expletives.