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Surviving Audio Localization
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Surviving Audio Localization

February 14, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

1.3 Recording constraints

Be specific about what you want and list your recordings specs:

- Distance between actors and microphone

- Type and / or brand of microphone

- Levels and volume settings

- Studio environment (rooming etc.)

- Cut and clean rules: what and where to cut to avoid unnecessary silences, acceptable clicks or other parasite sounds etc.

- Format (i.e. wav 48/24) and folder structure for delivery: individual files sorted by character and categories, Pro Tool or Pyramix sessions for videos with tracks synched on image etc.

These technicalities are not trivial: they help overall consistency and save a lot of time during post production; levels adjustment will be light and the final M&E (music and effects) will not require much fine tuning.

Make sure this list is sent early enough overseas so that it can be translated if needed.

Time constraints are important to manage disc space and streaming but also to optimize animation: the more rigid they are, the more U.S. and localized audio waves will look alike (and the longer it will take to record). These are decided by your lead sound person in coordination with animation. Finally, translators need to know how much they need to twist the number of syllables or bend their translated text so that it matches the constraint.

- Voice Over (A.K.A. VO)

Oddly enough, it’s a no constraint and usually applies to AI barks and one liners whose dependency on image is poor. You don’t get to see close-ups on characters delivering lines. In reality you want lines to be roughly the same length but that doesn’t need to be precise.

- Time Constraint (A.K.A. TC)

Localized files can be -/+10% longer or shorter than U.S.’s. It’s mostly a safety net to prevent movement synch issues: you’ve just stabbed a guard in the back and he collapses. It’s nicer if he stops moaning after he’s dead. The difference is quite detectable for collision, jumps, hits and impacts you can actually see on screen. But unless you’ve got bionic ears you won’t be able to tell a TC line from a STC. But if you zoom in on the wave you’ll definitely see a difference.

Figure 4: Blue graph is U.S., green is localized file.

- Strict Time Constraint (A.K.A. STC)

Length of U.S. and localized files match (exactly). Those are mainly used in scripted dialogue that do not feature close ups.

Figure 5: STC files

- Sound Synch (A.K.A. SS)

The SS is an overzealous STC that mirrors silences in its corresponding U.S. file. It’s well illustrated if you compare two waves: length and form are identical. It’s used in scenes where animation and dialogue are intricate, i.e. you see the back of one character yelling on the phone: you don’t want the arms to wave on silence. If it’s a close-up of a giant speaking mouth you want words to come out of it when it’s open. Sound synch, commonly used in games for kids, can also be considered a (cheap) variant of lip synch. Note that the bigger the constraint is, the tougher on translators and actors.

- Lip Synch A.K.A. (lip)

High resolution cinematics call for lip synch but not for all lines (thank God) mainly because face animation is super long. The best setup is to prepare U.S. sessions in which dialogue and image are already synched (locked on time codes). Localization studios just need to mirror the dialogue tracks to get an identical print. Spanish (purple) mirrors US (blue). You get almost ready to mix material on which M&E will adjust fine (see Figure 6: synch session).

Figure 7: 2 lip synch files

1. 4 Quotes & Budgets

You need detailed quantities and rates because you will then initiate a purchase order. If the quantity is huge you may be able to negotiate rates. Here is what a sound quote looks like (for one language):

Note that some companies may ask for a 30% or so installment. Should quantities change significantly you need to ask for a new quote; adapt your budget and schedule. This is why the person in charge of the localization budget and overall organization must be kept in the loop at all times.

But your audio budget is not yet final. The following costs may be added (they may be in-house or external).

  • Check on localized audiobases (overall quality, integrity): n days of work x languages

  • Post production on localized audiobases (special effect, editing)

  • Additional recording session for cinematics: n languages

  • Video editing: n days of work x languages
  • ubtitling: n days of work x languages
  • Integration: n days of work x languages
  • Sound debug : n days of work x languages

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

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