I saw something when we were setting up at IBC that I wanted to mention. Because it directly relates to something that I do on all the shows that I work on.
At one booth I saw the face of the host of a Discovery Channel show I worked on…a series really. It was a freeze frame image of this host with burned in time code and no background, so I couldn’t tell which show it was from. They were busy setting up, so I didn’t have a chance to ask the guys (and gal) what it was right away. I waited until the show was running and they weren’t so busy.
The guy is a historian named Dan Martinez that hosted the UNSOLVED HISTORY series I worked on. I was one of many editors assigned to work on those shows (typically three of us on a show, up to five for the two hour ones) and was curious if this was one of the ones I worked on. I spoke to the guy doing the demo and discovered that it was indeed one of the UNSOLVED shows…the one on PEARL HARBOR. Now, I didn’t work on that one, but I was at the company that did. The man doing the demo, Tao, was delighted to find out I was one of the editors of these shows. He worked on the international version of all of them. I asked him to run me through the demo…what did he do? INTERNATIONAL VERSIONING and MIXING. He took the international master that we provide and remixes the audio and re-does all the text for the various countries it airs in.
OK, a quick note on what we provide for International versioning.
We provide a textless tape (no lower thirds…interviewee name and title…or map names) with split track audio, a DA88 audio tape with 8 separate tracks, time code information as to where the lower thirds and map text resides, and additional footage, called PLUS ELEMENTS, that is to be added for countries who have shorter or no commercial breaks.
One of the things this man did was add translation VO over the interview bytes by ducking the audio and adding in the translation (German, French, Italian, whathaveyou). He also remixed the music when needed as well. For example, the PEARL HARBOR episode used music that was in the feature film, that the show had bits and pieces of throughout. They didn’t want to license that for international, so he composed and scored new music and replaced it. They also cut out the feature film footage and added the plus elements to make up the difference. And then noting our time code information from the texted master, and utilizing a low res QT file for reference, he would locate the lower thirds and map text and replace them with German or French or Italian (again, whathaveyou) language versions of the titles.
But I noted something when I was watching TV in my hotel room in Amsterdam. I found that they aired National Geographic and Discovery Channel, and did so in English. The titles were still in English, and the show was subtitled. I asked him why in this case they didn’t do Dutch translations. “Ah, that is because most of the population here speak English. And those that don’t, read the subtitles.” Very true. Every person I ran into spoke very good english. And I mean everyone. I could see that. He did point out that he still noted our text time code numbers for when he adds the subtitles. So they would appear higher on the screen as to not cover the lower third information. Handy.
It was very nice to see what happens to the international masters that we prep. I would liked to have seen a show fully realized in German or something. But…next time.