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Dubbing films, TV shows to solve voice, sound problems in Vietnam

Dubbing films, TV shows to solve voice, sound problems in Vietnam

Monday, December 01, 2014, 20:36 GMT+7

While many other countries have long recorded sounds on the spot for their films and shows, most Vietnamese films are still dubbed because of actors’/actresses’ voice weaknesses and film sites’ sound defects.

Out of the 15 new TV dramas currently aired on local channels, only one film – “Toi Yeu Co Don” (I Love Loneliness) – has its sounds and actors’/actresses’ lines recorded on site.

Ho Chi Minh City – the country’s entertainment hub – is currently home to around ten dubbing groups, including such established troupes as Xuan Tam, Phuoc Trang, Bao Chau, and Mong Van.

Meanwhile, Hanoi has around five to seven groups, according to veteran actor/director Tran Luc. 

However, a small number of voice artists are in charge of the main roles in different films, which has resulted in repetition and lack of novelty. 

The head of a local dubbing group said they are paid around 6-7 million (US$282-329) for each episode.

Fledging troupes accept lower pay of only VND3 million for an episode.

Director Le Minh found it hard to find a young girl for a minor role in his new drama, “Bua Toi Cua Dieu Hau” (A Hawk’s Dinner.)

“Several girls boast good looks and adequate acting skills, but their voices sound rigid and unsuitable for direct sound recording,” Minh explained.

Le Loc, another director, pointed to another hurdle in on-the-spot sound recording.

“As we have few film studios, we generally choose outdoor sites as our settings, where the direct sound recording can be easily disrupted by all kinds of noise in the environs. Repeated filming of a scene can harden actors’/actresses’ feelings and unnecessarily prolong our film production,” Loc said.

That explains why several scenes of “Ly Hon” (Divorce), a drama created by director Nguyen Minh Chung, use dubbing to ensure sound quality even though the film has its sounds recorded on site.

Ba Vu, director of “Bien Xanh Va Oc Nho” (The Blue Sea and Small Shellfish), spent quite a large sum on the dubbing work for the film, after the on-the-spot sound recording failed to meet his requirements.

The strengths and weaknesses of dubbing

Dubbing, however, has its own shortcomings.

Due to a limited number of skilled voice artists, TV viewers may get bored with the same voices they hear again and again from one film to another.

Inexperienced dubbers and even skilled drama actors tend to exaggerate in their way of talking, give unnaturally theatrical conversations, or fail to match the spectrum of their voices with the characters’ moods and conditions.

Despite the current weaknesses, Bich Thuy, director of Sena Film, affirmed a long lifespan for dubbing in local films.

“On-site sound recording typically costs more than dubbing due to the investment in building film studios. Besides, few local actors/actresses boast good looks, acting skills and beautiful voices at the same time,” she explained.

Emerging actor Huynh Dong, who has taken leading roles in many local TV dramas and dubbed several others, said he himself does the voice-overs for most of his characters.   

There are several funny situations in the process of dubbing.

A mute girl, played by actress Le Be La, in the currently aired drama “Dau Chan Du Muc” (The Nomadic Footprints), mostly utters simple sounds during the film.

However, the dubbing actress failed to highlight the girl’s speech impairment, and La had to fly all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City just to do the voice-overs for the simple sounds for her own character.

“A beautiful voice alone doesn’t make a skilled voice artist, but it’s important that he/she can relate fully to the characters they are dubbing. A seasoned voice actor can do dubbing work for different characters,” said Mong Van, a dubbing director with 30 years of experience in the field.

“Good dubbing considerably complements the cast’s acting, but our career has yet to receive its due respect. Many actors/actresses now don’t learn their lines properly, and tend to mumble a few interrupted words or count numbers during the shooting, which causes us immense difficulty in making our dubbing suit their mouth shape,” Dat Phi, a veteran voice actor, said.

He added that there are cases in which the director’s or film crew’s instructions disrupt voice artists’ flow of feelings while they are nurturing their chemistry with a character in a certain scene.

Dubbing TV shows

Around seven years ago, HTV3 – Ho Chi Minh City Television’s channel for children – pioneered in dubbing foreign films and shows, which notably saves viewers from straining their eyes to read the subtitles or pricking their ears for voice-overs in both the original and translated languages.

The channel offered dubbing for most of its foreign cartoons and feature films.

Other channels followed suit, providing dubbing for many of its foreign dramas.

A distinct difference between dubbing for local and foreign films is that while foreign films need around nine voice artists, local series require more.

However, it is an entirely different story when it comes to dubbing foreign reality TV shows. 

HTV3 once launched a survey to gather viewers’ opinions on whether it should provide dubbing or subtitles for “The Running Man” – a South Korean variety show.

The survey showed up to 70 percent of the respondents opted for subtitles.

However, after the first three episodes were aired with subtitles, many viewers suggested dubbing.

The channel’s dubbed Korean show “Dad! Where Are We Going?”, which features Korean pop stars and their children taking special trips, also met with mixed viewer reactions.

Many voiced their complaints that the dubbing work ruined half of the show’s appeal, as the voice artists failed to accentuate the mood of the players, particularly the kids.

According to Phuong Thuy, director of Dream Field Studio – one of the country’s current largest film studios – dubbing TV shows is more technically demanding than doing it for films and cartoons, as the voice artists are supposed to be experienced enough to understand what the players in the shows are thinking or feeling.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

While many other countries have long recorded sounds on the spot for their films and shows, most Vietnamese films are still dubbed because of actors’/actresses’ voice weaknesses and film sites’ sound defects.

Out of the 15 new TV dramas currently aired on local channels, only one film – “Toi Yeu Co Don” (I Love Loneliness) – has its sounds and actors’/actresses’ lines recorded on site.

Ho Chi Minh City – the country’s entertainment hub – is currently home to around ten dubbing groups, including such established troupes as Xuan Tam, Phuoc Trang, Bao Chau, and Mong Van.

Meanwhile, Hanoi has around five to seven groups, according to veteran actor/director Tran Luc. 

However, a small number of voice artists are in charge of the main roles in different films, which has resulted in repetition and lack of novelty. 

The head of a local dubbing group said they are paid around 6-7 million (US$282-329) for each episode.

Fledging troupes accept lower pay of only VND3 million for an episode.

Director Le Minh found it hard to find a young girl for a minor role in his new drama, “Bua Toi Cua Dieu Hau” (A Hawk’s Dinner.)

“Several girls boast good looks and adequate acting skills, but their voices sound rigid and unsuitable for direct sound recording,” Minh explained.

Le Loc, another director, pointed to another hurdle in on-the-spot sound recording.

“As we have few film studios, we generally choose outdoor sites as our settings, where the direct sound recording can be easily disrupted by all kinds of noise in the environs. Repeated filming of a scene can harden actors’/actresses’ feelings and unnecessarily prolong our film production,” Loc said.

That explains why several scenes of “Ly Hon” (Divorce), a drama created by director Nguyen Minh Chung, use dubbing to ensure sound quality even though the film has its sounds recorded on site.

Ba Vu, director of “Bien Xanh Va Oc Nho” (The Blue Sea and Small Shellfish), spent quite a large sum on the dubbing work for the film, after the on-the-spot sound recording failed to meet his requirements.

The strengths and weaknesses of dubbing

Dubbing, however, has its own shortcomings.

Due to a limited number of skilled voice artists, TV viewers may get bored with the same voices they hear again and again from one film to another.

Inexperienced dubbers and even skilled drama actors tend to exaggerate in their way of talking, give unnaturally theatrical conversations, or fail to match the spectrum of their voices with the characters’ moods and conditions.

Despite the current weaknesses, Bich Thuy, director of Sena Film, affirmed a long lifespan for dubbing in local films.

“On-site sound recording typically costs more than dubbing due to the investment in building film studios. Besides, few local actors/actresses boast good looks, acting skills and beautiful voices at the same time,” she explained.

Emerging actor Huynh Dong, who has taken leading roles in many local TV dramas and dubbed several others, said he himself does the voice-overs for most of his characters.   

There are several funny situations in the process of dubbing.

A mute girl, played by actress Le Be La, in the currently aired drama “Dau Chan Du Muc” (The Nomadic Footprints), mostly utters simple sounds during the film.

However, the dubbing actress failed to highlight the girl’s speech impairment, and La had to fly all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City just to do the voice-overs for the simple sounds for her own character.

“A beautiful voice alone doesn’t make a skilled voice artist, but it’s important that he/she can relate fully to the characters they are dubbing. A seasoned voice actor can do dubbing work for different characters,” said Mong Van, a dubbing director with 30 years of experience in the field.

“Good dubbing considerably complements the cast’s acting, but our career has yet to receive its due respect. Many actors/actresses now don’t learn their lines properly, and tend to mumble a few interrupted words or count numbers during the shooting, which causes us immense difficulty in making our dubbing suit their mouth shape,” Dat Phi, a veteran voice actor, said.

He added that there are cases in which the director’s or film crew’s instructions disrupt voice artists’ flow of feelings while they are nurturing their chemistry with a character in a certain scene.

Dubbing TV shows

Around seven years ago, HTV3 – Ho Chi Minh City Television’s channel for children – pioneered in dubbing foreign films and shows, which notably saves viewers from straining their eyes to read the subtitles or pricking their ears for voice-overs in both the original and translated languages.

The channel offered dubbing for most of its foreign cartoons and feature films.

Other channels followed suit, providing dubbing for many of its foreign dramas.

A distinct difference between dubbing for local and foreign films is that while foreign films need around nine voice artists, local series require more.

However, it is an entirely different story when it comes to dubbing foreign reality TV shows. 

HTV3 once launched a survey to gather viewers’ opinions on whether it should provide dubbing or subtitles for “The Running Man” – a South Korean variety show.

The survey showed up to 70 percent of the respondents opted for subtitles.

However, after the first three episodes were aired with subtitles, many viewers suggested dubbing.

The channel’s dubbed Korean show “Dad! Where Are We Going?”, which features Korean pop stars and their children taking special trips, also met with mixed viewer reactions.

Many voiced their complaints that the dubbing work ruined half of the show’s appeal, as the voice artists failed to accentuate the mood of the players, particularly the kids.

According to Phuong Thuy, director of Dream Field Studio – one of the country’s current largest film studios – dubbing TV shows is more technically demanding than doing it for films and cartoons, as the voice artists are supposed to be experienced enough to understand what the players in the shows are thinking or feeling.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

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