M+E Daily

AppTek, Other Industry Experts Predict Growing Role for AI in Dubbing

Industry experts including Volker Steinbiss, managing director at AppTek, speaking 29 February during the ITS Localisation event in London, predicted artificial intelligence (AI) will have a growing role in the dubbing of films and TV shows.

The dubbing industry was relatively untouched by technological advancements for many years. Although the pandemic changed that to some degree, as voice artists were forced to work from home, dubbing remained true to its traditional roots.

That, however, is changing as AI dubbing technology becomes more pervasive. The use of AI across the M&E sector is leading to a lot of debates, and technology and creativity are destined to meet head on.

During the panel session, “The Future of Dubbing,” moderated by Caroline Baines, senior director of client services at MESA, the executives explored the traditional and new approaches, and how the industry can work together.

Baines recalled there was a “very good prep call” a couple of weeks before the event and as “I said to our chairs this morning, we probably could have been on the phone for a good couple of hours, because there was so much that we had to talk about.”

Baines went on to ask the panel “what makes a good dub?”

Responding, Änne Troester, dubbing scriptwriter and board member Synchronverband, German Dubbing Association, said viewers must have the same “emotional connection” to the dubbed version that the audience had with the original version.

“That, for me, is sort of like the only area that really matters, and  you can achieve this in very many different ways – whether  it’s perfect voice match, or whether it’s just the perfect character to voice another character and maybe not the perfect voice match, Troester said. “It doesn’t really matter … as long as the audience have that [same] connection”

Moving on to AI legal and regulatory issues, Yoram Chertok, chief strategic planning officer at Dubformer, said it’s “someone’s voice” from the original version of a movie that is being duplicated. “It’s an intellectual property and you’re not allowed to just take it and clone it and reproduce it.”

Chertok added: “Another thing about AI [is] there is no clear regulation yet, global or even local…. I expect it to be heavily regulated this year …  but I think it’ll be a little bit [like shutting] the stable’s door after the horses run away.”

In terms of the use of AI in dubbing, Chertok said: “The best thing that I can think of … would be creating sound-alikes and replacing voices. When a client comes and says, ‘OK, we changed our mind. We want the narrator, instead of being male, to be female,’” with AI, that “doesn’t mean going back to the studio [and] calling an actor or an actress,” Chertok noted. “Just by clicking a button, you can change it. So the huge savings … is a huge advantage, and everything is becoming much simpler when you want to do some changes.”

Also speaking during the panel session was Dieter Imme, dubbing and digital media manager at Fremantle.

ITS Localisation was presented by MESA in association with the Content Localisation Council and Smart Content Council, and sponsored by Dubformer, Iyuno, AppTek, EIDR, Blu Digital Group, OOONA, Papercup, and Deluxe.