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Posted by shannonmuir in animation, Interview.
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When I attended the Gathering of the Gargoyles 2001 convention, I got the chance to hear Crispin Freeman, who’s built a resume in dubbing animation brought to the United States from other countries. This is an art sometimes also referred to as ADR, or ‘automatic dialogue replacement'(though it can also apply to dubbing done to make last minute corrections to any animated project). Crispin’s known for being the English voice of ‘Zelgadis’ of  Slayers, and ‘Touga’ of Revolutionary Girl Utena, among others.  Crispin’s also been a script adapter for Pokemon. Here’s a couple questions I posed to him about animation dub acting…


SHANNON MUIR: What special challenges are there for actors dubbing foreign animation?


CRISPIN FREEMAN: Well, it depends on the show and the script.  The first is whether or not the script has been adapted to match the lip flap of the characters on screen.  If it has, then the actor’s job is simpler (not necessarily easier) since you don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to rewrite lines on the fly that don’t match.  If it has been adapted prior to recording, then it’s a matter of trying to make an authentic and honest read for the character you’re portraying in the rigid form handed to you, namely that your performance has to match the lip flap on the screen as opposed to animators matching your vocal performance.  The next level is to try to get across the original intention and subtlety of the original show, while still making it work to an audience of a completely different culture.  It definitely is tricky.


SM:  Briefly describe what a dubbing session is like.


CF: I go into the studio by myself and stand in front of a microphone with a TV in front of it.  The director and recording engineer are there and sometimes a producer.  Sometimes I’ve been able to read the script or watch the show ahead of time, but many times, I’m seeing both animation and script for the very first time when I get up to record.  I wear headphones, I have a music stand in front of me with the script and I look at the TV.  The animation appears on the TV with the Music and Effects from the show in my headphones. I get three beeps in my headphones as the time for my line comes up.  Where the fourth beep should be, I say my line and try to match the lip flap on the screen.  Usually, we have to go back and try the line again to adjust the read or the match to lip flap or even the script.  We usually go one line at a time until we finish an entire recording session.


SM:  Does a dubbing script look different than a typical animation script?


CF: Most of the dubbing scripts I get are merely straight Japanese Translations with timecode telling the director exactly where the line falls in the course of the show.  Those don’t look anything like the scripts that I get from other producers who are doing the voices first and the animation later. In those, they’re written more like a screenplay, except that every line a character says has a number so that they can keep track of everyone’s lines and in what order they go.


SM:  If an actor wants to go into dubbing, what do you feel he or she can do to prepare?


CF: Take class.  Find people who are teaching acting and voice acting.  Contact licensing companies in your area and find out how and when they hold auditions so you can try out.  Get to know people who are doing what you want to do.  Once you’re in class, you’ll meet all sorts of people in the business.  Pick their brains about how and what they do and how they got

there.  Keep smilin’ and have fun.


Crispin, thanks so much for taking the time to share insight into the world of animation dubbing.  For more information about Crispin Freeman, visit his official website.


(originally published 2001 at Suite101.com)



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