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Versioning & Motion Capture Tech Expand
Work For Voice Talent. What's Happening ...
August 22, 2017

By Mike Zirinsky
President, Creative Media Design (CMD)
& The Voice Shop

New York City is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. Walking through the streets of Manhattan, you can hear a chorus of voices and accents, each adding to the rich multicultural landscape.

We are living in a time where at the heart of our communication is language. But if we don't speak the same language, than how can we connect?  

Voice over studios and voice talent need to bridge the international language gap.

With recent advances in technology and communication, plus the ubiquity of information technology and consolidation of more and more brands under a single conglomerate (i.e. Nestlé, General Mills, Unilever, etc.), many voice over advertiser clients find themselves competing in a global marketplace, rather than a domestic one. 

To succeed in that environment today, voice over studios need to embrace these global cultures with an impressive roster of talent.

And the multi-language process the studios employ is called "versioning."


Roughly put, versioning means creating multi-language versions of a single generic project.  

From the perspective of voice over, what does it take to successfully create multi-language versions of a spot?

Many challenges that need to be overcome.

The Script.
The script not only has to be translated into the target language, but also needs to be adapted to be culturally relevant and up to date.

For example, the way a person in a specific country says something seemingly simple, like a website URL, may change over time. It is essential to stay current so the voice over doesn't sound dated or out of place. 

Translation Meaning. Usually there are multiple ways to translate a word or phrase, and the overall context of the script will determine whether the translation should be of a formal or informal variety.  

To ensure authenticity, studios should hire experienced native speakers born to the target country. This guarantees that studio is recording the most genuine, natural sound.    

Translation Timing. Another challenge is fitting a translation to the given timing of an existing video.

For instance, if the spot is originally recorded in English, translations to most foreign languages will be longer, and will take longer to read. This becomes a problem with commonly used languages including Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin.

Left to an inexperienced end client, or someone not familiar with the process of recording translations, this results in an inordinate amount of expensive time wasted during a recording session, while everyone works to shorten the provided translation in order to fit it to video.     

The smart voice over studio will ensure that scripts will be translated and adapted properly, to guarantee that the voice over will be culturally up to date for the target country. 

It's important for studios to work only with native-born voice actors as well as native-born language supervisors, for this, so that recording sessions go smoothly. 

With experts on site, any changes that need to be made during a recording session are done quickly.  


What is the future of versioning? It's happening right now with advances in motion capture technology.    

And as the homogenization of western culture - and human culture, for that matter - advances, doors open for creating single spots for multiple markets.

Further facilitating this are advances in CGI technology, in particular: "Jaw-Replacement."

In this process, the client will film a spot, for example in Australia, with Australian talent, then do a full scan of their heads with mocap dots and create a rig.

They then cast and record a VO talent performing the lines in another language. While the VO talent is reciting the lines, they film them, performing motion capture on their jaw movements and lip-flaps, then map those onto the rig, and replace the jaw of the talent on video with a CGI rendered one, thus eliminating any need to match lip-flaps.  


This is an exciting development for VO artists, as it creates many more potential high-exposure, ideally high-rate jobs to work on.

What it means for the industry as a whole depends on who you ask.

For production companies, it poses a challenge as the market becomes more competitive, driving the incentive to film in countries where labor costs are lower and there are tax incentives.  

For audio and post-production, it is both good and bad news. As the need for versioning increases, the demand for high quality audio post production houses will increase. The downside is that this may cause agencies to handle versioning post-production in-house rather than with vendors.  

Yet for voice talent, it's all good news since jobs that would have otherwise gone to on-screen actors are now viable for a broader spectrum of voice over artists. 

This new technology has the potential to open up doors for VO talent who are ready and able to meet the needs of the global market. In a rapidly changing international landscape, the possibilities are endless.  
Mike Zirinsky is present of Creative Media Design, a New York City-based audio house dedicated to bringing authenticity to messages with voice + sound. CMD's integrated audio post production services allow clients to cast, record and mix all under one roof - with exceptional voice talent, state-of-the-art recording studios, and an expert team to achieve the perfect sound for any production. The Voice Shop is a division of CMD, offering voice over coaching and education, dedicated to preparing students for lucrative voice over careers.

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Comments (1)
Elizabeth Holmes
8/22/2017 at 11:25 AM
Fascinating article, Mike! Thank you for sharing this.
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