Remote Recording: How the Media Localization Industry Tackled a Potentially Existential Threat

21 January 2021

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Today, we look at how studios and the media localization industry responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s often said that “the show must go on,” but can the show really keep going when production is hamstrung by a global pandemic and the show’s crew are required to maintain physical distance from one another? COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing requirements have disrupted practically every industry on the planet. As a result, the spring of 2020 was marked by professionals in every industry scrambling to create solutions to accommodate the challenges of working through the many unknowns of the pandemic. 

In the media industry, one of the many challenges that quickly became evident was the apparent incongruence of recording vocal talent with the work-from-home phenomenon. Traditionally, dubbing is a part of the production process that is very heavy in its need for resources as well as personnel. Unlike, for example, script writing or subtitling, dubbing has an intrinsic requirement of specific hardware which until now was normally only found inside of a studio. This is clearly problematic in the current paradigm as the studios containing that hardware are rendered inaccessible and the individuals involved in the dubbing process are forced to collaborate remotely. Thus began the process of building a system around remote recording.  

Remote recording is the industry’s solution to being unable to bring artistic directors, sound engineers, and voice talents physically together. Remote dubbing is characterized by bringing the studio to the talent rather than the other way around. This is achieved by taking cues from what home studios have been doing for years, namely using workarounds to create an acceptable sound quality in an imperfect environment. Without the benefit of a proper studio, teams are forced to put the task of setting up and utilizing sound equipment in the hands of voice talents who are generally not required to have such technical skills and whose talents and efforts would normally be focused more on delivering a good performance.

Read part 2 of this series to learn more about the challenges of remote recording or check out the full remote recording report.

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