In Italy dubbing is increasing because of the growth of audiovisual. Yet it is undergoing a profound transformation.
Among the many artistic sectors, that of the italian dubbing voiceovers is one of the most coveted by young people. Yet the sector is going through a great crisis, which at the same time disclose the new opportunities of the voiceover profession. Let’s quickly retrace the causes.
We are always sixty million Italians, who have grown up since the postwar period, thanks to the influence of American cinema which has transmitted to us models, values, aspirations. An art born as an instrument of control of fascist propaganda thus became the vehicle to grow as a democracy, inevitably paying the price of a progressive Americanization, with various antibodies (remember Alberto Sordi in “maccarone, you provoked me and mo ‘te magno” ?)
Dubbing thus became an art recognized and badly imitated by other non-English-speaking countries, up to the apotheosis offered by Italian commercial televisions, which re-proposed films, but above all TV series that made history (Ally Mc Beal, for example, a series in the which I voiced Robert Downey Jr).
The Italian public was hungry for new content and Mediaset and Rai were competing for the best television series.
The years and technological transformations have radically changed the context and the ways in which, above all, the new generations have related to the video medium. Consequently, the craft of the italian voiceover in all its forms has also changed its skin.
Commercial television today is the prerogative of adult and elderly generations, while millennials and zoomers enjoy video content mainly on YouTube, choosing what they want to see and when to see it. Today they represent over thirty-five percent of the Italian population. On the web, content is multiplied, divided into series, YouTuber video posts, gameplay, reviews, comedies, etc. etc. The point is that basically they are not dubbed, but offered in the original language.
And the dubbing? I only remember a small detail: although the world population is growing dramatically, the Italian one is still anchored at sixty million, with the difference that we are inexorably aging. While public remains constant, the incredible amount of content that has poured onto television screens thanks to satellite and digital terrestrial networks, still needs to be translated and dubbed. Yes, but at what price?
If dubbing is in crisis then what are the opportunities offered by the world of voiceover?
Dubbing is therefore in crisis but more and more are the opportunities offered by the sector for actors who want to exploit their ability to entertain with the voice. Dubbing has always been an alternative to the actor’s job, so much so that many famous actors are also great voice actors (I couldn’t say the same to the contrary). I mention for example the legendary Giancarlo Giannini, or Ferruccio Amendola or Francesco Pannofino. Over time, the systematic inconstancy of the actors, given by tours and writings at theaters around Italy, has led to the permanence of the Italian voice actor who offered himself in all his availability to guarantee films and TV series. But what about today?
Television productions flourish, mainly of the “reality” type, with various TV series for large on-demand platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The other side of the coin is that budgets have significantly contracted, leading to compressions in the remuneration for voice actors that are really on the verge of sustainability.
Spending the days indoors in a voice booth giving a voice to characters from other cultures who fill the television schedules with trash products, is an ambition that I never had, and that ultimately wears out the artist who firmly believes in the value of his own talent.
Furthermore, many italian professional voice actors, driven by a growing market, offer training courses for voice actors all over Italy, thus satisfying the great demand in a sector that exerts its great charm but which in the end it is doubtful it will keep. what it promises. These are also the new opportunities of the voiceover profession.
In practice: we are training many professionals in the microphone and film and television dubbing, without knowing if they will ever be able to effectively make ends meet with this profession.
Perhaps it is appropriate not to be anchored to the glories of the past and to understand how the work of the voiceover professional in Italy has many other opportunities for growth to ensure a bright future for those who approach it.
Thousand professions in front of a mike…
First of all, we have the video game production which, in terms of investments, has already overtaken cinema production for some years. Basically, an international video game title, has the same budget as a highly grossing international film, due to the localized edition in Italian. Giancarlo Giannini himself voiced Raul Menendez in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, demonstrating that the budgets available to the world of video games are becoming as relevant as those of cinema.
I voiced Commander Shepard from Mass Effect II at an episodic point in my career as a television voice and voice actor. It was an interesting experience, although completely out of context. A series of sentences whose context was rarely explained to you, which become almost incomprehensible, where the story takes on fantastic reliefs following an indecipherable logic. It is the difficulty that I had to face and probably because of which I did not get to the game players who criticized my performance. A video game is something extremely serious, guys. You’ll discover it on your skin.
Video games are therefore an important front for those who intend to enter the world of entertainment as a professional voice. The videogame has become an essential piece of it. But it is not the only area of engagement for a professional entertainment voice. You have to be ready to offer all the nuances of your emotions in every area and carefully dose the mix of potential opportunities for engagement, to seize all the new opportunities of the voiceover profession.
A bit of video games, a bit of dubbing, some TV series can make a career in this third decade of the 2000s, but we must be ready for significant transformations that follow technological evolution.
Preparation and determination: the keys to success.
Therefore, being ready to interpret every nuance of human life through emotions is the basis of the work of the italian voice talent.
But it doesn’t stop there. Virtual reality is a universe that still has to give the best of itself, with productions that will create virtual worlds to offer feeling and emotions. And yet augmented reality will require sound comments for the benefit of users in countless areas of application, from tourism to industry, from instructions to tutorials.
Another sector on the rise is that of podcasts, which by definition need voice artists to tell a story or conduct an investigation. In this case we are faced with a new challenge for the voice actor who does not know how to make a successful podcast. He loses the sure reference of the script, to venture into a new universe, in which he becomes an interpreter of meaning, a creator of meaning. In a word: podcasting requires engagement. Interpreting a text risks giving the content an allure of coldness that makes it not very effective for those used to listening to podcasts to elevate their mind.
Ultimately, for those approaching the world of dubbing and voice-over in general, you just need to be ready, prepared, technologically able to understand what is required by a client for which the use of a voice, be it of a voice actor or a speaker, will represent the essential connecting line between a world of which we know little in terms of emotions and the ability to generate empathy, and the human beings who will confront it, looking for moments in which to relax, have fun , or learn.
Whatever the new opportunities of the voiceover profession…
We voices of television, cinema and theater, we will be there!