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How your favorite series is dubbed in Filipino

“Ulitin lang natin ’yung [line na], ‘Ilang araw nang busy ito,’ ha? (Let’s repeat the line, ‘It’s been busy for days’),” dubbing director Cheska Aguiluz instructed voice actress Steffi Bontogon who lends her voice to the character of Max from the Netflix Original series Stranger Things.

“More of pinapaisip mo sila Dustin na ‘hindi kasi siya ganoon eh’ (It’s more of making Dustin and his friends think that ‘She [Joyce] is not like that’,” she said, directing the actress from a neighboring soundproof room.

The actors then perform the lines in different takes until the best delivery is achieved.

The four seasons of Stranger Things have been dubbed by HIT Productions, Inc., one of Netflix’s dubbing partners.

During a media tour of HIT’s studio on Oct. 26, we saw how Season 4 of Stranger Things was dubbed in Filipino.

Rudolfo “Rudolf” Baldonado, head of localization, briefly described the workflow of dubbing a live action material. Mr. Baldonado is the writer and director of the Filipino dubbed version of the Netflix Original Series Trese.

“We get the material, study that with the director, and then translate,” Mr. Baldonado said.

“We come up with the concept for the Filipino dub,” he added, citing that the story should be understood first and a concept for its localization follows.

When it comes to localizing foreign material, the nature of the content also dictates the translation — whether it is appropriate to translate the dialogue in full Filipino or a mix of Filipino and English.

The writers then work on the script and the directors do the casting simultaneously. The chosen voice actors and writers then meet on the day of the recording.

A full episode is not finished in a day — it may take a few days to record depending on the availability of the talent to record his or her parts.

During the recording session, actors hear the original language through their headphones and deliver the Filipino lines in sync with the delivery of the original characters. They observe the original footage on a screen while reading the translated script, and note the director’s instructions during pauses.

“Being a voice actor, halos lahat ng character, kung kaya ng boses ko, puwede kong gawin (Being a voice actor, I can do almost any character. As long as my voice is capable, I can do it.) I can be any character,” said Nelieza Magauay, who lends her voice to Stranger Thing’s Robin in the Filipino dub.

“As a voice actor, one of the things I find really fun is the idea of creating a character and giving life to a character through your voice. Just like everyone, we grew up watching cartoons…You get to appreciate the intricacies of how to bring one character to life,” said JM Torres who voiced the series’ villain Vecna.

Ms. Aguiluz recalled that a previous session where the sound engineer thought of using a term “tulok” — or “kulot” (curly) spelled backwards — when they were recording a scene with the voice actors playing Lucas, Dustin, and Steve. The term was not in the script but ended up being recorded since it fit the scene.

“One of the happiest things about being in a session are organic moments na may naisip ’yung engineer ko, or talent ko na we incorporate [to the script] as long as appropriate sa scene,” Ms. Aguiluz said.

For animation dubbing, characters tend to have bigger reactions, while for live action, voice actors have to deliver following the character’s facial expression.

“What I love about my directors and the most challenging thing is they sometimes give you characters that you don’t think fit your voice but then they push you at a certain point na suma-swak siya and that’s what’s really cool about this job,” Mr. Torres said.

In between, the sound engineers fine tune the recording prior to sound mixing which focuses on how the audio should sound depending on where the sound of an object or voice is seen on screen.

“And then after that we check everything… and then we submit,” Mr. Baldonado said.

Three to four episodes are done in one month, which their team sends to Netflix’s international office.

Once they see it on the platform, they celebrate, Mr. Baldonado said.

“Voice acting is acting. It’s about truth. So, the ability to give your heart to act and do the technical stuff — looking at the time code, timing, expression, script — ’yung pagsabayin mo ’yun (to do them altogether), it’s a very special skill that not everybody can do or obtain,” Ericka Peralejo, who voices Suzie, said.

JM Canlas, who voices Lucas, said that it is important to enjoy the work.

“[Direk Rudolf] never forgets to remind us that we have to always enjoy kasi mas maganda ’yung nailalabas na (we come out with better) output if we’re enjoying [ourselves],” Mr. Canlas said.

NETFLIX’S FILIPINO USER INTERFACEOn Oct. 21, Netflix activated a user interface (UI) available in Filipino.

This new feature allows subscribers to navigate the UI, read titles and synopses, plus watch shows and movies with Filipino subtitles, and in Filipino dubbing.

Titles such as Emily in Paris, You, and The Queen’s Gambit can now be viewed in the Filipino UI setting.

“At Netflix, we believe our members should be able to choose their viewing experience, whether it be the genre, format, or language of the content. We are very happy that our Filipino members will now have the option to enjoy their favorite Netflix content from all over the world with Filipino subtitles and dubbing, should they prefer to watch as such,” Netflix Content Director for Southeast Asia Malobika Banerji said in a statement.

The Filipino UI feature offers flexibility for Netflix users as they will be able to switch their profile to Filipino from the language option in the “Manage Profiles” section on their desktop, TV, or mobile browsers. The complete Netflix experience in Filipino is available across all devices — from member sign-up, to search function, and payment options.

Netflix subscribers can set up to five profiles in each account, with each profile having the option to choose its own language setting. The Filipino UI feature is also available to members outside the Philippines. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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