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How To Prepare To Compete In The Expanding
VO Niche Of Localization: Dubbing And ADR
March 1, 2022

By Steven Renata
Managing Director, Kiwa Digital

The recent explosion of content for streaming services makes it clear: This is one of the best times in entertainment history to be a voice over performer.

At the same time, the rapid rise in TV and film content – not to mention a host of other projects, ranging from commercials to corporate videos – has led to turnaround times that are tighter than ever before.

Particularly in the lucrative translation market, scripts are delivered with closer and closer to the deadline for final, recorded audio, which means casting directors, voice over directors and post-production managers have less and less time to work through every step of the process.

The end result?

Performers also have less time to prepare for their roles, yet the expectation is even greater that the finished product will be flawless.


One of the fastest-growing segments of voice over work is localization – or, dubbing a TV series or film from its original language into English, and vice versa.

Until the last few years, this was a highly specialized area with fewer opportunities for work, particularly because non-English films tended to be subtitled rather than dubbed. However, with the growth of Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, series created in other languages are increasingly popular – Squid Game, Money Heist and Lupin are among the most successful series in any language ever offered by Netflix.

Original-language-to-English dubbing is a huge market for voice performers – while dubbing from English into other languages remains important, too.

What this means is that voice over artists have more opportunities than ever – but also a new, more competitive and often more stressful reality to contend with.


To better compete in this market, it's imperative that performers familiarize themselves with the content and the tools that are most in demand. That includes:  

  • Watching non-English-language series on streaming services.
Become familiar with the content that viewers are responding to most. Traditionally, languages like French, German and Spanish have been the most common sources of English-dubbing projects, but that has changed dramatically, and many other countries are becoming sources of sought-after series.
  • Spend time studying how performers who dub into English act their roles.
Gone are the days of stepping into a booth and reading a few lines at a time.

Today, English-language dubbing performers are delivering full performances that, while not actually seen, must closely mimic the original's integrity and intensity. You may even get asked to physically put yourself into the role in the booth.
  • Don't worry if you don't know the original language or don't speak with an accent.
Not all roles require a performer to "sound" like the original language, rather to deliver an effective performance.
  • Understand the process through which a non-English project is dubbed into English.
The Wall Street Journal last year produced a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at dubbing Squid Game, which is a must-see for all voice performers.

Importantly, you also need to be aware that technology plays a hugely important role in the process.

Among the most commonly used software programs today that helps performers and directors in the dubbing process is VoiceQ, created by my company, Kiwa Digital, which is based in New Zealand.  

VoiceQ takes its name from the "cueing" process that performers, directors and technicians must follow when recording and replacing dialogue in any project - including automated dialogue replacement, or ADR, work in native-language films.

The system works by creating a scrolling version of the script, with very specific timings, notes and marks that any voice performer can follow. By following along, the performer can closely match the dialogue of the original in very long takes, so that dubbing no longer  requires looping just one or two lines at a time.

It also features a selection of both traditional and innovative cueing methods, including countdowns, beeps and streamers, along with other on-screen displays.  

But the net result is that the system is as easy to use as reading along with the words as they cross the screen. By the time a script has been imported into VoiceQ, all of the exact timings have been worked out, ensuring that the dubbing process is easy, quick and, above all, focused on the performance rather than the technical details.

The system is almost as old as movies themselves – it was originally created in France, where different versions have been used for decades as the "Rhytmo-band" process.


It may sound a bit daunting, but VoiceQ is easy to use both in the studio and at home when you're preparing for a project. Think of it as the perfect "karaoke system" designed specifically for voice actors. It's widely used, too – more than 4,000 voice actors and 300 dubbing studios worldwide use VoiceQ, which in 2021 was utilized on more than 800,000 minutes of content.

VoiceQ has also introduced VoiceQ Actor, a new software tool that allows voice artists (with permission from the studio and producers), to securely download clips and rehearse at home. Sample clips are also pre-loaded into the software, meaning that performers can grow comfortable with the VoiceQ system before they set foot in the studio.
Steven Renata is managing director of Kiwa Digital, a New Zealand-based company that created VoiceQ software for voice over dubbing and ADR projects. It also recently introduced VoiceQ Actor - software that allows voice actors to download clips and rehearse the dubbing before actual recording in a studio. VoiceQ Actor is available for MacOS and free to voice actors for one year (see link below).

VoiceQ Actor (free for one year):

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Comments (3)
John Florian
3/7/2022 at 8:40 AM
Mike, we checked with Steven Renata of VoiceQ, who said, "We are currently scoping viability through our VoiceQ cloud platform. Stay tuned!"
3/6/2022 at 5:54 AM
Will you release a PC version of the software?
Patricia M Smith
3/1/2022 at 3:02 PM
I'm working on my first (pro-bono) dubbing project. Thank you for the insight.
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