TWIG 735: Outside of the Nerdery

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

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The Apple Vision Pro is the first VR system that approaches how I envisioned VR would look like, when I had my first experience in the mid 90s. It still has a way to go, but it is the first product in the area that has excited me at all in the last , nearly 30 years.

The Windows VR headsets from the mid teens were interesting and showed promise, but fell a long way short.

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With regard to dubbing, this is a big industry in Germany and I have a feeling, that if you suddenly swapped out the voice over artists with AI versions of the actors’ own voices, they’d end up saying, “wer zum Teufel ist das?” (who the hell is that?).

Some artists, like Tobias Kluckert, Sabine Godec or Dietmar Wunder are wonderful speakers, have a good range and each artist has their own set of foreign actors that they cover and they will cover them for their whole career. Only if the voice artist dies or retires, will you get a different voice.

The other thing is the translation itself. Currently this takes a lot of time and effort, because you can’t do a literal 1-1 translation, for political reporting yes, for a book or film, no. There are a lot of subtleties to each language and a phrase that works in one just doesn’t work in another, you have to completely re-write whole sentences or paragraphs to get the same meaning - or they go in a totally different direction.

A couple of classic examples: The Persuaders TV (Roger Moore and Tony Curtis) series was dubbed into German and it fell flat, nobody liked it, so they got a couple of people with a broad Berlin accent and they pretty much made a comedy out of it, which is/was much beloved by many Germans.

A lot of comedies fall flat, because they try to be too literal with the translations, but others, like Ice Age or Bad Boys 2, they put an incredible amount of effort into the script and the voices and the dubbed version is actually superior to the OV version. With BB2, I had watched it at home in English and thought it was midly amusing, then I went and watched it with a friend, in German, and I was, literally, rolling on the floor, holding my sides, because they hurt so much from laughing!

Another area where dubbing works really well is leveling the soundstage. A lot of Hollywood films, especially Christopher Nolan films, you have the actors speaking unclearly and the background music and effects are so loud, you can’t understand a single word - @Leo was complaining about this when Foundation came on on Apple TV+, the German version was not only excellently dubbed, it was actually watchable, because all of the voices were crystal clear and not drowned out by the background.

I used to watch Navy CIS - LA, with Chris O’Donnel and LL Cool J in German, as the OV version wasn’t available over here at the time. I watched the first 3 series in German, then the 4th was available on OV and German. I tried listening to the original, but I ended up laughing so hard, I missed a lot of the show. In German, LL Cool J has a deep, baritone voice that really suits him, listening to him in the original English, his voice was a high pitched girly voice, in comparison, it just didn’t pass to him, after listening to him for years in German.

The same goes for Michael Dorn in Star Trek TNG. I watched TNG growing up in the UK and thought he was great. Then I re-watched it in German, when I moved to Germany and, again, he has a much deeper, more gutteral voice in German, and the harshness of the German language also worked much better to bring over the feeling of him being a Klingon.

After over 20 years of living in Germany, I actually find it distracting to watch films in English these days, because I am so used to the excellent voice artists and the actual performances they give, that the English often feels flat, and the original voices are strangers to me.

Podcasts and YouTube videos are probably the only media I watch in English these days.

Interestingly, I found it incongruous when I moved to Germany, the film Shrek had just been released and they were advertising it, not with the names of the artists doing the voices, but “with the voices of Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas”. Later, when Ice Age came out, they didn’t just use the voice over artists that played the US actors, they actually pulled up a great local cast of actors, including some codey legends, like Otto Waalkes and the Penguins were played by the Fantastische 4 (Fantastic 4) rapper group. I found that much better, to actually give the actual artists the recognition they deserve.

These days, I find it interesting to watch a show and try and recognise the voice over artists and many of them also do audio books, so I often listen to books read by my favorite voices.

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Interesting that you should prefer the dubbed versions. Whenever we watch foreign language programming, e.g. Liaison on Apple TV (French English) or Babylon Berlin on Netflix (German) we invariably try the dubbed versions then revert to the subtitles because the dubbed acting is so bad.


I think it is down to the culture, probably, in the US and other English speaking countries, dubbing is looked down upon. In Germany, where a lot of series and films come from non-German speaking countries (we get a lot of Scandinavian content, for example) it has always been a big industry and done very professionally. The voice actors are often big names in Germany, and they put a lot of effort into it, to get it right, to portray the feelings etc. as the original actor did.

And as I said, the audio mixes for modern films are often better in dubbed German, where you can actually hear what is being said, than in the original Hollywood mix.

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