For the result to be convincing, you should use
a specialist translator who must have not just a copy of the original
script but also a copy of the completed video so that he/she can see the
mouth movements. You will need to allow plenty of time in your schedule
Commentary is most simply delivered as voiceover. Avoid using a
front-of-camera presenter unless you shoot a new section of video for
each language. Otherwise you will be into a lip-sync nightmare.
Interviews are more acceptable to the audience. The most popular
technique is to hear the interviewee speaking in his/her own language
for a few moments, then dip the level of the voice and mix the voice of
an actor reading a translation of the interview over the top.
4. VIDEO AND
Ideally the translation should be done by someone who is experienced in
translating the spoken rather than the written word, both for
reasons of style and timing; the new commentary must be a good fit. In
the best of worlds, the translation will be done by the narrator, who
will be a broadcaster or actor from the country or region concerned.
He/she will need a copy of the original video as well as the script.
Allow time in your schedule for the translated script to go to your
agent or local office abroad for checking. This is important to
make sure that technical and business terms have been translated
correctly and authentically, not just literally. The translator cannot
be expected to know the current jargon for your industry. Also you have
to watch out for material in your presentation which some cultures may
find offensive, of course.
5. DUBBING A
FOREIGN LANGUAGE SOUNDTRACK
The classic way to lay a foreign language soundtrack is "to picture".
This means going to a studio which has the facility to run an audio
recorder in sync with the video and to display the time code
(hours/minutes/seconds/frames looking something like 00:12:54:13). The
narrator will watch all this as he/she reads. The recorder may be
tape-based or, more likely nowadays, a computer.
Before you go to the studio you will need one copy (a "submaster")
of the video, probably on DVcam or the older Beta SP format with time
code for each language. The soundtrack on your video should not be
mixed, in other words one channel should have music and effects ("separate
M and E"), the other the original commentary. When the new
commentary is mixed back on, the original commentary will be wiped off.
You should also take several copies of the script with the timecode of
the start of each paragraph marked on it. This is so the recording
engineer can find his way around quickly, and is particularly important
if you are dubbing a language which is not written in Roman characters.
Always ask the narrator to listen through to the finished recording so
that he/she can check it.
Most specialist dubbing studios are found in the major broadcasting
centres (ie London in the UK, Hilversum in Holland), which is where the
specialist translators and narrators are also to be found.
You may be offered a lower price option at the video edit facility where
your presentation was produced. Very often this involves the narrator
reading timed sections of script, ie knowing that he/she has to make a
certain paragraph last 14 seconds, 23 seconds or whatever. These chunks
are then laid back onto a submaster at the end of the recording. This
can work quite well if the script is simple and the language is one you
can follow easily, but if things don't go smoothly, the time for the
extra editing may cancel out any savings you make by not using a
specialist dubbing studio.
Allowing the narrator to record at his own speed, incidentally, is
called "recording wild". You will then need to edit the pictures
to the voice, rather than the other way round.
6. MAKING COPIES FOR DISTRIBUTION
You will now have quite an investment in your master tapes. A wise move
is to make a safety master of each, a good quality copy on DVcam
probably, just in case a tape is lost or damaged after your production
has been taken off the studio's computer editing system.
Make sure the edit facility has marked up the tapes with their length,
tv standard (PAL, SECAM or NTSC), language and audio details (ie "Ch 1-
narrator, Ch 2 - M & E").
VHS was the universal viewing format nowadays, but is replaced by DVD in
many markets. Where you have to be careful is to ensure that copies are
made not just in the appropriate language, but also to the local tv
standard. (See Local Standards).
For example a Mandarin Chinese video will be watched on NTSC standard in
Taiwan, but on PAL in mainland China. DVD copies should be
set to "Region 0" to avoid problems with regional settings on DVD
Multimedia CD-ROM does not have to follow these local tv
standards. MPEG, AVI, WMV and the other video file formats are
Some countries which are politically or religiously sensitive may insist
on seeing your presentation before it is let into the country. There
have been horror stories of newly arrived export salesmen falling foul
of customs officials who did not have the facility to watch the video,
so merely destroyed it! Check with your local contacts if in doubt.
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