The Magic of Translating, Dubbing, and Subtitling Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Trailer
Copyright Disclaimer: under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education, and research. My localization of this trailer is a proof-of-concept, and as such does not represent the creators in any way.
Directors Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero, decided to expand a short film based on Vázquez’s graphic novel Psiconautas, los niños olvidados, where they add in their humor and bursts of poetic rapture into their personal dreams of adolescent hope in the film Birdboy: The Forgotten Children that is set in a world drained of joy. Throughout the film there is adventures into despair, death and rebirth, and bitter satire. The hand-drawn cute animated features from the film can be deceiving and the film packs a lot of hardships and coming of age events into its brief running time. And though it’s dark riches can at moments feel overwhelming it depicts reality of some of the hardships the author saw growing up and leaves you feeling with desire for hope and cast in a spell. The setting is a once-idyllic island whose recent history is defined by a nuclear accident that caused everything to change especially for the children. There are sections of wasteland and elsewhere, neat little houses suggest pockets of wholesome normalcy. However you see reality once you venture beyond the front doors. Truly one of my favorite animated films and a must see. This led me to translate, subtitle, and dub the trailer into Spanish. This proved to be far more difficult than anticipated, but I am still quite pleased with the end result.
If you are short on time, the following 1-minute video contains the quick overview of what the process consisted of.
First, I watched over the video to transcribe its contents and luckily the dialogue was easy to hear and flowed well so I was able to do a single run through as I typed the source text. The trailer is only around 2 minutes with 30 lines of English dialogue so I decided to go with utilizing a word doc and created a table to input the English source text and Spanish target text seen below. The Spanish translations were mainly for dubbing reference as I would be using the source text I transcribed for the subtitles. This process was fairly simple and straightforward; the fun and challenging part came next with dubbing!
OST / Sound Effects
Oh boy what a rollercoaster! Starting off I thought going over dubbing using Audition would go by pretty quickly without much trouble. I think this is where I met my challenge and also joy for dubbing I didn’t have before! I started with adding the video for reference in Audition and created three extra tracks: OST, Sound Effects, and Voiceover. At first I did not have luck finding the OST of the movie so I opted in to take the manual route of getting the OST by using Audacity. I placed it in the mp3 of the trailer, split up the tracks, and added in the invert effect. It seemed the process worked as I looked at the waveforms but to my surprise it would not take away the vocals as it has in the past. I decided to move forward and at least take the clips where the sound effects were so I would not have to recreate them. This was done by going through the track and highlighting the areas I wanted and exporting those sections only which I would then place into the Sound Effects Track in Audition.
Just my luck! I was able to find someone who uploaded the OST for the movie and life got much easier or so I thought. After adding in the music back in Audition and playing it through with the original I noticed there were a couple of changes and the producers of the trailer decided to mix their own music using the artist’s music for the movie. I then had to go in and cut some parts and paste them in at different sections and sometimes merge them so they ran as smooth as the original video. After some trial and error it turned out exactly like the original.
Here comes the water works. I don’t particularly have talent when it comes to voice acting and it is something I have steered away from because it’s way more challenging than one would think! However I’m glad that with covid-19 it challenged me to take on the task since I couldn’t meet up with others who could fit the roles of each character in the trailer. I had so many run throughs and the way the trailer was, it seemed dialogue was fast paced and a clip faded into a new clip with new lines quickly making those scenes the hardest to get down and required more changes than the rest.
In the end I still feel more redos could have been done to make things flow better with lip movements and scene changes but overall I’m proud and noticed that I improved during this process. It was rewarding to see all the voices I could do and getting them as close as possible to the original. Voice talent consisted of recording dialogue as a father, mother, 3 children, an alarm, a narrator, a duck, and a cop. So recordings took the longest and the robot sounding character took the most effort but after playing around with effects it came out so well. I can definitely see myself tackling more dubbing in the future especially after my work around effects to help with dubbing. I now know how much time and talent is required from voice actors and patience and practice is key.
Saving the best for last. After trial and errors and redos through OST, Sound Effects, and Dubbing in Audition I exported the full session and took it into premier Pro where I aligned it with original video muting the source audio and keeping the localized audio. Once that was done I had my final localized video that I could take into Arctime for some subtitling fun. Subtitles are usually straight forward in process and just as I thought I ran through this process quickly. Especially with quick drag and drip function from Arctime. What a bless! With that its a quick drag and drop into frames and adjust accordingly to match up with the dubbed dialogue and voila the final results of a localized trailer for Birdboy: The Forgotten Children from English into Spanish.
What I learned from this is that video localization is not as simple as it may seem. Voice talent makes a huge difference and I truly respect those who do this for a living as it can be exhausting to have to replay the same character and lines over and over while being consistent. As for the editor getting frames to fit accordingly and knowing how to utilize effects to help out smooth dialogue can be time consuming. In an ideal world, things would run smoother as you would have access to the original, editable format, and music. One thing I would add on to localization process is the words on screen. I would tackle them on in after effects using overlays and masks as the text is mostly still with a couple of ones that would utilize keyframes to move with the screen. After my experience with using Audition, Audacity, Premier Pro ,and Arctime to localize this trailer, I have even more respect for video editors, voice actors, and myself.
Here is the end result: