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41 Frozen Elsa's In 41 Different Languages:
Voice Over Re-Recordings Are Big Business

February 21, 2017

By Lewis Moss
Adelphi Studio

The Hollywood award season, now in full swing, brings stars from across the globe to various ceremonies to appreciate the movie world and the talents that have been demonstrated throughout the previous year.

I for one love watching to see who scoops the top awards. Plus, the awkward speeches and wardrobe malfunctions always add a little comedy value.

But let's also spare a thought for the translation agencies and voice artists who help to share these Hollywood blockbusters throughout the world.

Most movies can be seen in almost every country on earth, and this shows the real power of films and the success of Hollywood. As a result, movies are seen by millions more people and become popular all over the world.


But many people fail to realize the work that goes into translating a movie so it can be viewed and understood worldwide.

There are two main ways to do this:
  • subtitling and
  • re-recording the parts using voice overs.
Most people will have seen subtitles. Usually they appear when you've sat on the remote and then spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out which button gets rid of whatever mysterious language has appeared on the screen.

But subtitles are very important. If you have auditory impairments you will probably need subtitles to follow the film. Or, if like the majority of the world (about 75%) who don't speak English, subtitles allow people to watch and understand movies in their own language.

But subtitles don't just appear! The script needs to be translated into the target languages and put into the movie.


An even better mode of translating a movie is to re-record the voices into different languages.

Many countries only use dubbing for animated movies, however some non-animated films also use voice artists. This makes the movie experience better for so many more people.

But how do you take a character like the Genie out of Aladdin voiced by the great Robin Williams and turn it into another language? You have to re-cast. So for distinctive characters, the producer tries to find similar voices.

For example, Frozen was translated into 41 different languages! Which means that there are 41 Elsa's and the international cast of Frozen ended up at over 900 people.


These voice over artists won't be recognized or thought of this award season, even if their version has been seen millions of times. Still, having 'Dutch Elsa' on your CV is not bad going.

I think it's a shame, though, when you consider the success of animated movies that the voice artists are overlooked for the main awards, and particularly when you consider the phenomenal performances of characters such as the Genie (Robin Williams), Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Shrek (Mike Myers). When you add to this the other 40 voice artists playing the role around the world it makes it even sadder.

So, spare a thought for the translators and voice artists this award season as they continue to share movies throughout the world without the recognition they deserve.
Lewis Moss works for Adelphi Studio based in Sheffield, UK. Adelphi is a voice over, subtitling, translation, localization and typesetting company that works with over 1,200 voice artists in over 80 languages.



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