Gone are the 90s, the noughties, 2015 is upon us. Communication and data exchange technologies continue to confidently take us to the bright, info-based future… In particular, the Internet, which, some 10 years ago was an expensive and slow luxury, is now much cheaper and quicker, and the so-called “unlim” is available to everyone.
With the unlimited traffic, the amount of entertainment available online has increased in accordance, and video downloading and streaming is one example. Therefore, we’ll now talk about films and TV series, particularly foreign ones.
When a new film or a TV series comes out, our spoiled freeshare public usually asks two main questions: “Where do I download?” and “What translation?” Let’s leave the choice of the source of download up to the user, but I’d like to look more into translation, because there are so many of them, but very few actually deserve a second look.
When you’re watching a film or a TV series, whether new or old, not many think about the fact that when we’re watching their favourite characters we don’t actually hear them, because the voices and the words belong to translators and voiceover actors working in movie studios. And these people directly affect the impression you get from what you see and hear to an extent that it can even tip the scales of the motion picture’s success one way or another.
The fact is, there are many dubbing studios today – both amateur and professional – that do a full, multivoice dubbing and high quality translation of original script. Voiceovers a la “Volodarsky” have become “lukewarm” today and cause pleasant nostalgia, although when they were current, translation and voiceover quality has sometimes caused very unpleasant sensations.
Today, the choice of localization options is much wider. First of all, of course, the audience’s attention is directed towards localizations produced by large companies. Back in the 90s, the most popular ones were “Nevafilm”, “Selena International” and “Pythagoras” and many remember these versions in the credits. Part of “Mosfilm” company “Mosfilm Master” is currently a well-known voiceover studio.
Companies of such a level do professional translation and film voiceover ordered by distributors and even authors. First, translation itself is done, then actors are cast, voiceover itself is done, following which ordered alternative sounds are recorded and everything is put together. Obviously, this movie translation option is considered the best and in most cases, it is, although there are misses. It’s a matter of taste, of course… Some are dissatisfied with translation: humor is lost, lines are misrepresented, the punchlines of titles and names is lost; others are dissatisfied with voiceover itself completed by actors, and others just want authenticity.
In this case, “fansub” – subtitles done by professional amateurs – is the option opposite to professional voiceover. To be fair, most targets of fansub are TV series and cartoons, most likely because they are translated professionally much less frequently and if they are, fans usually make a face and demand subtitles. There is a certain logic in this – TV series’ voiceover is usually of a much worse quality than film voiceover, and therefore, subtitles are the best option for people familiar with the original language. You’ve got the original voiceover, as well as some help with understanding the content in particularly tricky moments.
Subtitles aren’t a bad option even in cases when the audience doesn’t know the original language (many love anime, few know Japanese), because the characters’ emotions would be received by the audience through voiceover actors, and the content – from subtitles. For many, particularly in cases of some little known series, this option is more than enough.
Although there are some amateurs who go the extra mile and make their own voiceovers. When such voiceovers are done by a skilled organization (for example, LostFilm), the end product is far from worse, and sometimes even better than the “official”, i.e. mainstream (if it is even shown) translation. In these cases, professional actors are also hired, and appropriate equipment is engaged.
TV series’ fans’ nightmare is “fandubbing” (voiceovers by fans) when voiceovers are done “in good faith, with no money involved”. In those cases, the awful quality of the “work” is clear: bad translation (even if translation is more or less OK, it’s fully invalidated by the remaining factors), awful voiceover, even the quality of video in these cases is suffering. The reasons for that include the banal lack of preparation and necessary equipment amongst persons conducting translation and dubbing. The examples of such “works” are everywhere – as they say, “nothing ruins a band like its fans”. In cases of TV series’ fans, the situation is the same.