“Dubbing” Cartoon Voices

Picture this. You’re sitting down in front of your television and are watching a foreign film. The actors are obviously speaking a different language, but the audio (or the words that you hear) is in your own language. The film that you’re watching has been dubbed by voice actors that speak your native language, in an effort to help you enjoy the film without having to read subtitles. The original audio is removed and replaced with dubbing.

Dubbing for film is just one facet of the market which includes television shows, cartoons, documentaries, and so on.

India is one such country that has taken dubbing to the next level, and it is becoming somewhat of a national pastime.

Business is starting to boom in India, and so is the market for dubbing films and other media from North America. As it turns out, it is also becoming a lucrative way for people to moonlight while still maintaining their day jobs, often making exponentially more money as a voice talent dubbing than they do at their primary place of work while also getting creative satisfaction from their dubbing work.

Nearly everyone in India is dubbing, from house-wives to teachers to doctors, who dub voice-overs at recording studios after work.

Rahul Bhatia, GM, UTV, who heads the company’s dubbing division, says, “The voice-over business in India, estimated at Rs 15 crore, is growing steadily at 10-15%. There is therefore a constant demand for fresh voices.”

One such voice talent is Suchitra Gupta, a college lecturer. She makes almost Rs 25,000 per month from dubbing, an activity which she says is more of a passion than work. Bhatia says while beginners get paid around Rs 500 to Rs 600 per paragraph per episode, established dubbing artists can earn anything between Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per episode for an hour’s dubbing for the main character.

The pay is good, tempting even, but there are still standards to be met. Not everyone is a dubbing phenom. Pronunciation is key as well as the tone of voice and voice acting abilities.

According to Leela Roy Ghosh of Sound & Vision, which dubs a number of Hollywood movies into Hindi and other regional languages, “Dubbing, like music, is an art, which has to be nurtured. Since there are no training institutes, most people tend to learn on the job and they have to learn fast, as there’s little or no room for mistakes.

A dubbing talent relates, “Like in any creative area, mediocrity has no place here. Unless you are consistently good, you won’t survive for long.”

Clients also insist on need for dubbing quality. Joy Bhattacharya, senior VP (Programming) of National Geographic Channel, says, “We insist on 100% factual and language accuracy in all our programmes. Our in-house teams supervise and guide dubbing vendor constantly.”

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