Monday, October 01, 2007

Voice acting is hard work

Man oh man did I have a tough day at the office. Well the studio.

I reported to Everest Productions for an ADR session and went into the studio as I've done countless times before ready to give it my acting all.

Everest handles production for EBRU TV, a Turkish TV company in New Jersey. I've been doing ADR work there off and on for over almost two years.

For those of you unfamiliar with ADR or Automatic Dialog Replacement work, that's when you have a movie or TV program that has already been completed but one reason or another, some or all of the dialog of the on-screen actors needs to be replaced. A voiceover actor is hired to record the new and hopefully improved, replacement dialog. Sometimes, they do this to remove cuss words for distribution on regular network TV and such.

The stuff I've been doing is replacing stuff that was originally recorded in one language and has been translated into another language. In this case, it was a Turkish TV show entitled "The Teacher" which we were dubbing into English.

You still with me? OK.

So we get through the first several sets of dubs and all is well. Then my director suddenly realizes that the character I am voicing has some very long, wordy speeches in this episode and the guy who did the script translation did'nt do such a good job matching the translated dialog to the lip-flap.

In ADR work, the dialog and the voiceover actor try to match the lip-flap or mouth movements, of the actor on-screen as perfectly as possible. Otherwise you get that really bad Kung-Fu movie effect where you see the actors lips moving but there are no words coming out or you can hear the actors voice but the on-screen actor's lips don't move until 2 or 3 seconds later.

OK, so now the fun begins.

Most of the speeches this particular character has in the show are approximately the length of the Manhattan yellow pages. Undaunted, my director says to me, "here's what you're going to say". I snatch up my pen and we furiously try to re-write the dialog to better match the lip flaps.

So here are the ingredients for this particularly tasty stew:

Two - episodes that need to be completed tonight in order to meet the scheduled deadlines.

One - actor who never took a class in speed-writing or stenography. My handwriting is at best chicken scratch and at worst heiroglyphics.

One - director / recording engineer who has had a long day and is short on patience.

One - gaggle of kids running around the office, just outside the studio door, due to a Turkish Holiday!

Yummy Yum Yum!!

Needless to say, we got through it and while there were a few cuts and bruises, nobody got seriously injured . . . not even the kids.

If anybody ever tells you that voiceover work is easy, tell him he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

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