I recently read Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal’s guide on how to become a voice actor. Their book, called Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic, was first published in 2009, but their observations about the North American voice-over industry should still be valid today. Here’s the part I found most relevant to my interests as a fan of English dubbed anime:
Here’s generally how [English dubbing] works: you’re in the booth (sitting or standing), and in front of you is a monitor on which the engineer will play the animation for you. Your script is on a music stand in front of you. Usually your dialogue is broken down into bite-sized pieces called loops. You may watch a lop a couple of times to get a feel for both the timing and what the mouth movements (or flaps) look like before laying down the dub track.
Oftentimes the director has the engineer play the track in the original language so that you get some context from the original performance. How close you try to get to the original performance is up to the director. This process definitely takes some getting used to, and can, at times, be like juggling a ball, a bowling pin, and a chainsaw. But you will usually have your guide: the beeps.
Immediately preceding the moment when you need to begin speaking, you hear (in your headphones) The Three Beeps. These beeps are timed so that you begin speaking on the beat where the imaginary fourth beep would fall. So: beep… beep… beep… speak! (pp. 35-6)
Earlier today, I wrote a series of tweets about the Osomatsu-san series. In order to save those tweets for posterity, I’ve embedded them in this post. Please enjoy the story!
Fair warning: this story is piled with dirty jokes. Proceed with caution.