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Guest Post By Jessica Wright

Have you ever thought ‘I like this film but I just can’t stand the narrator’? Or, ‘why is there even a narrator telling me this is Paris if you can clearly see the Eiffel Tower’? And what about voice-over translations that don’t make any sense?

There are 3 kinds of mistakes when talking about voice over or off-camera commentary in film production:

–        The voice itself

There is always a character behind a voice, even if it’s just a narrator linking parts of the story, this voice has a personality. And this personality should match the tone and style of the story. In films where the voice over is used continuously, like in animated movies, a good casting is even more important. Characters need credibility and not having the adequate voice for them is a terrible mistake. Mistakes here are also related to the emotions ‘shown’, the tone of voice, a correct diction and any other techniques that are common to any kind of acting. The responsible for these mistakes would be casting and direction.

–        The use of the voice over

Sometimes the use of a voice over is just not needed. When an image is already telling you the story, showing a context or you can see the personality of the characters with their looks and acting, you don’t need another voice to explain what you already know and make you aware that you are watching a movie instead of letting you dive into it. If a voice over is used to, let’s say, introduce a character, it should be to give additional information of what you don’t see or can’t explain otherwise. The responsible for these mistakes would be the scriptwriter.

–        Translation mistakes:

We can find hundreds of mistakes when talking about voice over translations or dubbing. The choice of the voice is even more important here and should match not only the personality but also the physical appearance of the character. Translating dialogs and adapting them to another language is always a hard work. In addition to common translating difficulties, when doing a foreign language voice over, it has to look like the character is actually pronouncing those other words instead of the original ones. Again, credibility is needed in order to believe the story told. The responsible here would be the studio in charge of this post production service.

These are just general mistakes occurring in filmmaking, but voice over also happens in any kind of television production, radio, advertising, video games and  audio visual in general, so imagine how many more mistakes can be done in each of them!

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