Movies translated from English to other languages

I see a lot of movies that have been adapted from English to Spanish. In the olden days, the sound didn’t match the actor’s lips. We have come a long way. Thanks to digital movie making, we are able to see the actor’s lips actually synchronized with the other language. It is incredible!

And my Mexican friends love American actors. But, of course, (in translated movies) the voices they hear aren’t that of the actor. They love Morgan Freeman’s acting, but I feel they miss a lot of Freeman’s style because they can’t hear his distinctive voice.

And why not? We have keyboards that can duplicate (mimic) every note of every instrument in an orchestra. How difficult would it be to have every sound of Morgan Freeman’s vocal range digitized? And then inserted into a translated movie. Are we there, yet? Is it possible? Is anyone working on achieving this?

Let’s see if I understand…

You think that a synthesized voice is better than an actor?

No, he thinks a digitized representation of Morgan Freeman’s voice is better than a union scale actor in a sound booth dubbing in the Spanish translation.

No, he thinks a digitized representation of Morgan Freeman’s voice is better than a union scale actor in a sound booth dubbing in the Spanish translation. I’m not saying he is right or wrong, but I think I understand what he is saying.

Exactly jtur88. Thank you for clarifying my post.

We’re not there yet. What you’re talking about sounds easy, but it’s not.

Look at digital faces - I have seen still pictures of digital faces that were indistinguishable from real. You would swear you were looking at a photo of a real person. However, those pictures take many, many hours to create. If you want to animate that face, you need to draw 30 of those incredibly detailed pictures for every second of film and we just don’t have the power yet to do it.

There’s no question the technology is improving - heck look at digital characters from just a few years ago compared to something like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. But we’re still a ways off from perfection.

Voice and language is the same deal. With tons of tweaking, you might be able to cobble together a few words that would pass for real, but to rip off full sentences with all the nuance - we’re just not there yet.

On the other hand, you could teach Morgan Freeman Spanish, and then have him dub his own lines. You might even be able to get away with teaching him just enough Spanish to phonetically read a script translated by professional translators, without actually knowing enough to be able to go off-script.

^ It worked for Bela Lugosi in “Dracula.”

Wait a minute. Are we talking about digital celebrity voice synthesizing or CGI manipulation of actors’ speaking mouths to match a foreign language? Because the latter is what the OP sounds like they’re describing, and I’ve never heard of that. And it seems beyond the limits of current technology, CGI-ing every single speaking scene in a film. For that matter so does computer synthesized voice performances. Pixar still only ever does the visuals, I’ve never heard of any film using a computer generated voice that sounded remotely real…

Thank you Chronos, but I don’t think Mr. Freeman would want to invest the time. Not a big payoff for him.

They tried that with Arnold Schwarzenegger for movies in English. It didn’t work.

Especially when you consider that American movies are shown all over the world, so he’d have to do it in French, German, Japanese, etc.

From what I understand of the (English-to-French) process, the lip movements are not changed to match the spoken text. Rather, the translated text is chosen so that the syllables kind of match the (English) lip movements. The voice actors in the studio have visual cues telling them exactly when to utter the words so it looks/sounds good.

Kind of, but mostly receiving audiences do not expect to be able to lip-read when they know the movie is translated.

This also affects how animation is done: in dubbing countries, cartoons do not try to match lip movement exactly but take a lot more care of surrounding areas (other facial features, neck, shoulders) than English-language CGI-movies too-often do. Very often, “our” toons are already the effort of a coproduction invoving multiple languages from day one: picking which language to match doesn’t make sense.

And what the OP proposes re. voice involves breaking up the original actor’s voice into little bits and reassembling them. That is sinthesized voice, it simply happens to be done with a specific actor’s voice as the starting point.

Not really. In the 1931 Spanish-language Dracula filmed by Universal at the same time as the English-language version Dracula was played by Carlos Villarias, not Lugosi.

Yip. And they do it over and over and over and over again until they get it right. It’s called ADR: automated dialogue replacement.

This is also used in movies when they just can’t get the audio or need to make it sound different. In that case, it’s usually the original actor doing it.

Now, I wouldn’t put it past some CGI works to actually change the lips, but it’s still not done in live action. The tech isn’t quite there yet, though I’ve seen some pretty interesting developments on Reddit. I wish I could think of what it was called to Google it.

I think thats the same thing. Especially as they could program in any word if the first pass didn’t work… they can reprogram and reprogram …

“oh it should be more like z, but a bit raspy… ok Z… with hiss, more hiss a the end. shorter, drop the end… ZSSs. right . now cross fade and smooth , AGC up to there… fixed”.

It wouldn’t that THAT long to get a Morgan Freeman voice dictionary for spanish working, and verified by native spanish speakers… ???

It did work for Laurel and Hardy, and their terrible Spanish accents made them even funnier.

Actually, it might be.

I could certainly see the Actors Union claiming that since they are using Morgan Freemans’ voice (via synthesizer) for this Spanish version of the movie, he is entitled to be paid the voice-over dubbing rate, and residuals, etc. And it seems to me that they would have a strong argument there. And they are still a pretty strong union.
I’ve heard suggestions that there would be quite a market for GPS mapping systems where you could choose your favorite actors’ voice to give you directions (James Earl Jones as Darth Vader: “in a quarter mile, I order you to turn left…” or Marilyn Monroe purring “darling, in a quarter mile, please turn left…”). Quite technically feasible.

But the Actors Union has held the line on this: they demand that the voice actor receive a cut of the price for every unit sold, and something like residuals – an additional fee for every year that it is in use. And the GPS companies so far have refused to give the actors a cut of this income.

Seriously, do none of you use Miss Perky GPS, or take one of those public transportation systems that warn you
“next station…
Bumfuck, Egypt…
15 minutes”

That’s not even something a person reading it all together would say “with a lot of feeling” and it has the pauses in the same places where that person might place them and it sounds like shit even if it’s all the same voice.

Getting a dictionary of syllables or one of words wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to make the speech sound natural. There are some actors who work it into their contracts they’ll dub themselves to those languages they do speak - but it’s got to be to languages they do speak well enough to not distract from the story. Antonio Banderas dubs himself, but in Spanish and English, not in German or Russian. Actors recording in a language that’s not among their primaries will spend hours (or months) working on improving them; some will do that to be able to use different accents as well. The OP’s proposal just doesn’t make sense.

Then again, Spanish is a much more phonetic language than English, which would make Schwarzenegger’s task more difficult.