I have this Syncing Feeling

July 3, 2009  |  Articles

It’s always nice when you get that email or IM message telling you that you got a new job. Sometimes you don’t spend too much time in understanding how technical the job might get because you are happy the work is coming in.

Very recently the lovely Fernanda from Produlz.com contacted me about an Arabic VO for an industrial video. The job was straight forward… get a script translated (I don’t translate but I have a very good translator who I forward the translation work to) and then voice it… and then (and here’s the kicker) Sync it with the audio of the English VO in the video.

I don’t have a fancy setup… I have a laptop, a couple of condenser USB microphones and a sound booth made from PVC tubing and thick tent material (I can disassemble it in about 5 minutes and put it back together in 10 minutes… handy when you don’t have much space at home). And finally I have Adobe Audition.

I had once stumbled on the fact that Adobe audition could import videos for lip syncing purposes or editing the audio of a video into it. Its as simple as dragging the video from your desktop and dropping it in Audition.

So anyway… Fernanda was under allot of pressure from her boss and client to deliver this video by Thursday (yesterday) and I told her that it was a tight deadline and that if the translator doesn’t deliver the work on time (she wasn’t used to such tight translation deadlines) I wouldn’t be able to deliver on Thursday. The translator delivered the script on time.

I looked everything over… printed the script and started recording.

I Pronounce You Man and Strife

Nothing new there… same process as always… except of course  that the video was for a Brazilian company and allot of the names of places and people mentioned were in Portuguese. Also apparently Arabic and Portuguese don’t really flow. Just different phonetic subsets and instead of the 1 hour recording 2 hours editing … I ended up doing 2 hours recording 4 hours editing. The main problem was that I had to deliver the audio synced. So I would import that audio I just recorded and sync it with the English… find out that the pronunciation that I thought I had done a great job with was in fact… crap.

Go back and rerecord that paragraph… and so on and so forth.

Add to that learning curve or pronouncing Portuguese the fact that I was completely new to the sync features in audition. They aren’t that hard to pick up.. but like anything that you do for the first time… and are under allot of pressure to complete… you end up with anomalies.

For example… Arabic sometimes takes less words to describe something in some instances… and in others takes allot more words. Trust me that is the worst possible thing to find out when you are trying to synchronize one language’s audio to another language. Especially when your vo keeps going beyond the other guy’s vo.

In one instance I had to go in (the booth) and rerecord a paragraph in a faster pace than all the others… because the guy said what he had to in English in 3 seconds less time that it took in Arabic.

The Learning Curve

I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging but usually I have an excellent learning curve with software… I can usually grasp the intricacies of it in less time than other people BUT this also usually involves me looking through the help file if I don’t know what I’m doing. Yesterday.. I didn’t look through the help file once… which probably added another hour to the editing time and made me deliver the file allot later than I initially estimated.

Thankfully the end of my day in Egypt is not the end of Fernanda’s day in Brazil and I hope she was able to deliver the work on time and meet her deadline.

But I can’t get over the fact of how much I have learned in this one experience. I can now with confidence offer my clients a voice over synced perfectly with a video’s audio (well depending on the translation really).

But I’ll make sure to charge a little extra for it… since it is a sound engineering skill and not every voice over person out there knows how to do it.

A Skill Learned Equals Money Earned

The more you learn and the more services you can provide… the more diverse your skill set is… the more you can earn money utilizing this newly acquired knowledge.

This is an important reality of our job… that the more diverse you get with some of the periphery aspects of voice over work.. I mean some would consider voice over video syncing a technical job or a job for a AV engineer.

Why? if it took me a few hours to get a solid grasp on… why can’t you look through the software you use and see if it will afford you the ability to sync audio with video. Or as in my case… video with audio with audio.

Ok… I just got a headache for some reason and my head is pounding… so I’ll cut the article short.

but suffice it to say that I will be updating my website with my new found skill of synchronizing video to audio.

And I’ll be charging money for it.

Taji



2 Comments


  1. I know what you mean. Simply the reality of owning a home studio means you are engineer, voice talent, and sometimes translator. I am acquiring new skills all the time, and it’s quite an education. But look at it this way – the more skills we acquire, the more marketable we are to potential clients.
    I have started to advertise that I am a scriptwriter as well as voice talent, which I include in the total fee. Many clients need a writer, and it is only cost efficient for them if they can find someone who delivers multiple services all in one.
    Fernanda is lovely, isn’t she? She is even prettier than her profile picture….

  2. Holy film strip batman! What an ordeal. Glad you was able to finish in style.

    I also do alot of work with voice and video and it can get a little tricky at times. But what you did sounds with the translation and everything sounds like another ball of wax.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Craig