Giving actors his voice: How does one become a dubbing artist?

Professional dubbing actors
Bruce Willis in "Live Free or Die Hard" | © Twentieth Century Fox

Hollywood star Bruce Willis speaks German like many other stars in our domestic cinemas. And it sounds at least as good as the original. But how do you actually become a dubbing artist, and what qualifications do you need to meet the requirements?

Movies and series are popular with many people and are regularly watched online, on the TV at home or on the cinema screen. However, since not all film productions take place in Germany, the industry needs dubbing actors who can lend their voice to the actors or their characters in film and television and make it possible for viewers to follow the action without subtitles.

Voice actors: There is no training

Anyone interested in a career in dubbing can only achieve this as a career changer. There is no training in the classical sense.

Many people who work as dubbing actors, however, have completed acting training beforehand and thus know each other in the film industry. This also applies to Manfred Lehmann: The dubbing actor of Bruce Willis and Gérard Depardieu first appeared in films and series before he lent his voice to the well-known actors.

But an acting education is not a prerequisite. Often it is also presenters or radio announcers who are looking for a career in voiceover.

If you do not have experience in professional speaking, you would do well to attend a speech academy or have your voice trained by a vocal coach. In order to apply for open speaker jobs, self recorded dubbings can be helpful. Participation in a casting can also be a good way to start a professional career as a speaker.

Important requirements for dubbing voice actors

Voice actors work with their voice and must be able to express a wide range of moods. The voice, but also the pronunciation and dialect are crucial for successful work in this field.

High German speakers have an advantage here, as they can be deployed more flexibly – but for regional productions, speakers with a Bavarian or Saxon dialect can also be used. Dubbing actors must have a first-class knowledge of German and a good grasp of the language.

Timing is also a prerequisite for successful work in this area: every word and sentence must be spoken in such a way that they fit the lip movements of the film and television character exactly. In this context, dubbing actors have to be able to put themselves quickly and well into the respective role in order to breathe life into the character. Empathy and empathy are therefore absolutely necessary.

Since it often takes several hours or days until the synchronisation is perfect, dubbing actors should be very resilient and stress-resistant.

Freelance dubbing actors are particularly flexible

Those who work as dubbing actors are in most cases freelancers. This means that both customer acquisition and writing invoices and organising the working day must be done by the customer himself. Accordingly, no income is generated in phases of low order – making it all the more important to build up reserves to bridge any “dry spells”.

Knowledge of accounting as well as good time management and communication skills are an essential requirement for all those who wish to pursue a career in synchronous speech. Freelancers are very flexible in selecting potential assignments: They can be hired not only for films and series, but also for commercials, audio books and many other productions.

Filmpulse Editorial Office
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