Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Germans dub their films and TV programmes, except that they call it "synchronising". Although this is not in actual fact a very truthful decscription of what appears, as the little I've seen isn't very synchronised. It drives me nuts when the audio to a 'normal' programme slips slightly and lips move when the sound doesn't, so when you add into the mix the fact that the actor's voice doesn't sound like it should (or I should say 'doesn't sound like I'm used to') then I guess you can understand why I don't watch too much TV in German.

There is a whole industry built up to deal with the dubbing of imported foreign sound tracks with 'actors' who make their career being the voice of often several Hollywood actors, so when you see one of the three Pirates of the Caribbean films then Johnny Depp is always voiced by the same actor, who is also be the voice over actor for Michael Sheen (amongst others).

Here's the good, the bad and the downright stupid aspects of synchronisation as I see it:

The good (let's be positive about this)
- people can watch films and TV programmes in the language that they wish without having to read subtitles.
- increased employment as actors are employed just to do voice overs.

The bad
- fans of an actor here may never know what that actor's voice actually sounds like.
- watching films that have subtitles whilst hearing the original language helps with language/accent acquisition (imho), for example the Dutch and the Danes subtitle instead of dubbing and their English is far less accented than that of the Germans.

The downright stupid
- cartoons, especially Disney/Pixar high profile things often have equally high profile Hollywood actors doing the voices, except here of course they get the film is still advertised as having Mandy Moore or Tom Hanks or whoever in the starring 'role' and the stars even come and do the whole red carpet thing but they're not actually in the film...mad huh?
- last week on the radio I heard a competition, a piece of audio was played from a film and the caller had to identify the actor. Except that the voice was that of a German whilst the answer the station wanted might have been 'Robert Redford', it wasn't his voice that we'd heard but rather that of the synchro voice actor who makes a living being the German voice of Robert Redford.
- when Heath Ledger died I remember hearing the report on the radio, and the station played a clip of the actor from one of his films, going on to report about the tragedy of his death, but again it wasn't Heath's voice we'd heard, but rather his dub-double, who wasn't dead (but who would now be facing a reduced income unless he could become someone else's voice over).

Dubbing, synchronisation call it what you will, I hate it and shall continue to avoid it, give me subtitles anyday even if they do make a film more strenuous and less relaxing to watch!

1 comment:

Jayne said...

I know the feeling - we used to have the same thing with extremely bad voice-overs done in Afrikaans. Thankfully the language now has its own channel!

I've 'moved' btw: