During the past few years we witnessed an increase in the request of children actors within the localization industry. Whether you are dubbing a movie, a multi-seasoned series or an animation project, is not unusual to receive from clients the imperative request: “We want a kid voice talent to cover the child character”.
At the very beginning it may seem a stressful and time-consuming operation, but in the end it is ‘just’ a matter of good scheduling, teamworking and organization.
So, what are the best practices when dubbing with kids?
We listed just few of them, the most important ones that you cannot avoid when working with little actors.
One of the first things is having an updated database of kids voices. Children change their voice as they grow up, and a kid’s voice can change a lot even in few months. If we are required to provide samples of 2 or 3 kids, then we must be sure that the children we are proposing still have that voice. A good habit is labelling the voice samples with important information (like age of the child & year/month of the sample’s recording) and recast them after 9-12 months, if necessary.
This is a golden rule: kids cannot work as much as an adult. This is a very simple mantra that too often people forget. There is a limited number of hours per day and a limited number of lines per hour. In Italy (and everywhere else) this limitation is mandatory, and complying with this rule is essential to ensure a child’s wellbeing when working on a project. Whenever a studio decides to break this rule, then it can easily happen that during a recording session children get tired and express the will to stop the activity. And the dubbing team has nothing else to do but suspend the recording. Children health must be always the first thing. So, with a correct scheduling of the recording sessions (a reasonable amount of lines and an adequate number of breaks within each session) you can avoid kids getting stressed by the job and be sure to get the daily schedule done.
Children’s parents are always welcome in the studio. Whether it is just one or the both of them, their presence is mandatory, and it helps the child to feel at ease and work even more comfortably. Parents must have a seat in the controller room, so that they can see their child behind the glass during the whole session, but they have also free access to the dubbing booth whenever the child asks for them to stay even closer.
A good team is the one where each member knows which goal must be reached and shares rules, practices and difficulties (and success in the end, of course!). Cooperating and creating a positive and collaborative atmosphere, even in a fast-paced environment, is good not only for the dubbing team itself but also for the kid, who will spend a certain amount of time within the studio. Choosing a dubbing director already used to work with kids can make the difference in a team.
This should be applied to every job, but it is even more true when it comes to entertainment and kids: working must be a funny experience for them. The more they are having fun, the more spontaneous they can be in front of the microphone. Moreover, when a kid is having fun dubbing, it means that on the other side of the glass a team is having fun too!