Outlook: Lockdown accelerates change in dubbing
Gordon Doran
Issue: November/December 2020

Outlook: Lockdown accelerates change in dubbing

When lockdown hit the entertainment industry, it became abundantly clear that traditional dubbing wasn’t prepared to react. Content owners needed a solution that could offer flexibility, choice and, ultimately, business continuity. They still needed to be able to deliver technical and creative quality, but with the freedom to work outside the confines of a physical studio setting.

Time to acknowledge that the technology works

Building a technology platform that ensures creative performance, audio quality and security takes time, but we’re convinced that the technology is where it needs to be to deliver the highest levels of dubbing production. For example, at Zoo, we’ve been working on technology for several years to bring together in-studio and remote recording. 

It’s often hard to imagine how the quality that comes with a studio set-up can be neatly packaged into a software platform, or how a home recording environment can reach the same levels as a studio. How can captured audio be monitored, assessed and treated in a way that delivers a high-quality product? And how can dubbing directors work closely with voice actors to deliver captivating performances while collaborating from separate continents?

Lockdown has been the prime opportunity to see all of this first-hand. For many, this technology has moved from a theoretical concept to the evolution of dubbing. We’ve heard it called everything from the “future of dubbing” to “witchcraft”.

However, not all technology is created equal. Some remote recording offerings are new-to-market pandemic responses, while others are more mature, offering highly-refined solutions for audio quality, collaboration and security.

The need for a resilient dubbing supply chain

Lockdown and a lack of business continuity have demonstrated that the dubbing supply chain is vulnerable. Most service providers own and operate studios around the world, and during lockdown, those studios were suddenly beyond reach. The shutdown of the traditional dubbing model has been a wake-up call for studios and content owners, but it’s also acted as a catalyst for change.

As more service providers look to remote recording studios, we’re sitting in an industry limbo — one that understands and adopts the principals of remote recording but with wildly varying levels of capability. This is because many service providers are still looking at remote recording as a reactive and temporary business continuity solution. For many, it’s more of a back-up plan, rather than a resilient and high-quality way of working long term.

Now that productions are beginning to open again, we need to ensure that cloud dubbing doesn’t take a backseat. In an industry that regularly alleviates risk by working with several vendors, this thought process should be applied to the means of dubbing production. A resilient hybrid model must be proactively built into the dubbing supply chain as a long-term safety net — knowing that the quality and security is there now.

What’s next for cloud dubbing?

Throughout lockdown, Zoo didn’t skip a beat because everything we do operates in the cloud. Having access to a dispersed, fully-equipped workforce and a resilient model is part of our norm, rather than a new benchmark to aim for.

Content owners should no longer see platform-based cloud dubbing as a stopgap or quick fix. It’s much more than that. It enables resilience, high quality, security and scale. It’s the future of media localization.  

Gordon Doran is Chief Commercial Officer & President of Zoo Digital (zoodigital.com) in El Segundo, CA.