When preparing an animated feature film or Television series for international distribution, proper localization is key to connecting with regional audiences. While some productions may only need a direct translation during post-production, most will want cultural adjustments to ensure the film or series remains relatable. The following quick tips highlight a few key areas to pay attention to when preparing your next animated hit for global screens.
1. Focus on Quality
A high quality dub that is tailored specifically to a particular region is vitally important in any translated film. Disney’s Frozen, for example, was an international box-office success partially because of its high quality localization efforts.
- The Frozen song “Let It Go” was translated to over 41 languages and multiple voice actresses where carefully selected throughout the world to portray the lead of Elsa.
2. Use Consistent Dub Voices
Consistency with the use of voice actors, especially in an animated T.V. series, can be a sticking point for many loyal international fans. Each character should have a specific vocal personality that is maintained throughout the film or series.
- In the Hungarian dub of Family Guy, the series was inconsistent with the voice actors used to portray certain characters and fans were quick to alert the creators about the changes.
3. Pay Attention to Culture
The diversity of world cultures can pose a unique challenge for translators, especially for films that rely heavily on American references like DreamWorks’ Shrek. The Shrek films strike a delicate balance of portraying humor while remaining relevant to the region.
- In the Polish dub of Shrek, instead of Donkey being threatened with being kicked, it was changed to Donkey being threatened with going to the meat house because it is a cultural reference to a Polish fairy tale.
4. Location, Location, Location
The setting of an animated film or T.V. series should relate to the audience and be more of an integrated effort rather than a post-production afterthought. In an effort to appeal to U.S. audiences, Pokémon producers adjusted dubs and visuals as the series progressed.
- The Pokémon series initially attempted to reference a fantasy location, but recognizable Japanese landmarks hindered the illusion. Producers later made the show setting more culturally neutral and also included visuals of typical American foods.
5. Customize Visuals
While proper translation and portrayal of vocals is vitally important to the localization of an animated production, the visuals can really drive the audience connection home. Pixar understands the need to be visually relatable to their international audiences, which is reflected in the efforts of its localization team.
- In Pixar’s Monsters University, the studio replaced writing on everything from cupcakes to report cards prior to its international releases.
- A vision of a hockey game in Pixar’s Inside Out was replaced with a soccer game to be more relatable to U.K. audiences.
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