The localization industry has demonstrated steady growth during the last decade. In India, broadcasters like Zee and Star India have spearheaded this growth through the launch of several new regional and international channels. By localizing their existing content into multiple languages, they have successfully forayed into new markets and reached new audiences.
The recent explosion of OTT and VoD platforms across the world has opened a whole new chapter in the history of content localization. As part of their business strategy, streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Viu, Hoichoi, Voot, Liv, Zee5 and MX Player ensure that their content can be enjoyed in multiple languages by viewers worldwide.
Not only do these platforms produce huge volumes of original content, they also acquire a lot of content from various international suppliers. Content therefore no longer has linguistic boundaries – Turkish origin content is enjoyed in India, Indian origin content is watched in Africa and so on. The same piece of content is dubbed/subtitled in multiple languages and offered to viewers in various geographies.
The consumption and profitability of localized content within India has permeated to such an extent, that even content in Bengali, Tamil and other regional languages is now being dubbed in international languages. Since dubbing/subtitling content in multiple languages is simpler and cheaper than producing original content, the demand for content localization is growing exponentially. Yet the biggest challenge faced by the dubbing industry today is shortage of talent.
Talent required for dubbing includes Voice Artists, Script Adaptors, Recording & Mixing Engineers and Dubbing Directors. Script Adaptors trans-create content so that nothing is lost for the new audience, while Dubbing Directors oversee performance quality and ensure that the dubbed content remains true to the film maker’s original ethos. Voice Artists enact the on-screen characters and weave magic with their voice-acting skills. Sound Engineers are responsible for mixing, enhancing and processing the recorded content. A good combination of all the above is needed to ensure a high quality end product.
While there are a few formal training institutes for sound recording and editing, most aspiring engineers learn on the job. Hands-on training is a must if one is to master the specialized skills required for high quality audio recording and mixing. It is best to learn under the tutelage of an experienced dubbing industry veteran.
Regrettably, there is not much formal training available for Script Adaptors, Voice Artists and Dubbing Directors. Perhaps this is why, despite a spike in demand, the number of voice artists in the industry has not grown substantially. One tends to hear the same set of people voicing content on a regular basis, and dubbing studios currently have no option but to use this limited talent pool to dub all types of content and languages. Given the vast genres of content being produced today (from comic book-based content to documentaries), there is a strong need to nurture fresh creative talent. After all, even the most talented Voice Artist cannot do justice to all types of roles, and bring the kind of depth, variation and pitch needed for all kinds of characters.
Apart from Voice Artists, dubbing studios are equally dependent on experienced Script Writers and Dubbing Directors for ensuring high quality deliverables. Due to the current spike in demand, the dubbing industry is facing a severe manpower crunch on this front as well. These skills too are largely being learnt on the job.
With the Media & Entertainment industry getting increasingly competitive, the future of the voice and dubbing industry is all about using cutting edge talent and technology to deliver high quality results within fast turnaround times (TAT). To ensure this, localization companies must invest time, money and effort in training fresh talent. They need to create structured training programs in line with their business requirements to ensure the availability of quality, cost-effective voice talent. After all, this is the key to breaking language barriers and delivering world-class content to viewers across the globe.