Stellar’s New Shared Task Manager achieves an impossible task….
a 120min multi-voice VO dub and AD project – within a single week.
Here’s how it was done…
Stellar for VO and Dubbing
In February 2023 Hear Say Audio Description were asked to provide the voice over and AD audio for a 120 minute foreign language film, with a turnaround time of just one week.
The original plan was to use a single voice for all characters and the audio description. But with 16 main characters and a narrator, it was soon decided to split the work over three voice artists: one for the narration and AD, one for the female roles, and one for the male ones.
The inputs were the high res original media file in .mp4 format, and an English language SRT subtitle file. There was no separate M&E audio track without the original language audio available.
The client required both a mono wav file of the combined AD and voice-over audio, and a full mix with the program audio; this included dipping of the program audio during the new dialogue to dip the original foreign language dialogue.
Hear Say AD has traditionally been an audio description house working with freelancers, and doesn’t have a dedicated recording studio or digital audio software (DAW). Although each voice artist had their own home studio or sound booth, they were located in different countries.
Cara Edney of Hear Say AD had considerable experience using Yella Umbrella’s Stellar AD software, but had always used it as a single user. However, by early 2023 Yella Umbrella were doing beta trials of their new Task Manager that allowed multi-user shared working environments both for scripting and recording. Stellar had supported multiple role lip-sync dubbing since early 2022.
Although full lip-sync dubbing wasn’t required by the client, it was important that the script length closely matched the duration of the original dialogue to allow the voice artist to pace the dialogue correctly.
The first step was to create a Task within Stellar, and to import and check the script. The video was imported and converted to browse quality (quarter SD) to reduce the size of the file delivered to the remote users. The English language subtitle file was imported and converted to a dubbing format (srtdub). This format supports the association of audio clips to each block of dialogue and the assignment of a Role to each text block in the script.
The script was then checked, each role identified, and the dialogue assigned to a role. In some cases an original subtitle would cover the dialogue of two characters, in which case the title would be split and each half assigned to the correct role.
Stellar supports comments against each block of dialogue so that instructions, ideas or questions could be included in the script and be visible to all users.
Once the script had been checked for dialogue, the roles assigned and timing checked, the Task was ready for recording. Although Stellar supports multi-user real time recording sessions, it was decided to split the work into three Tasks, one for each voice artist. Yella Umbrella added two new features to support this, so that a script could be duplicated with some but not all the roles, and then later multiple scripts could be merged into a single master file.
The voice artists could then record separately from the other users, which greatly speeded up the recording phase to meet the very tight turnaround time.
Once the three Tasks were ready, each with its subset of roles, the Tasks were assigned to each of the voice artists. They received a notification email and could download each Task with their Roles in Stellar on their Mac or PC.
They could then review the timed script, read any comments, and start recording.
The Task Manager system supports automatic uploading of all script changes and audio recordings. Consequently, as work progressed the manager and other users could see progress in real time.
The project manager could hear all audio clips immediately after they were recorded,
and so could provide feedback on style and audio quality. This greatly reduced the error rate and the turnaround time for correcting mistakes. Multiple audio-takes are supported, which means alternative audio clips can be stored, reviewed and selected for each section of dialogue. Because each section of dialogue (lines) has a separate audio clip, the timing and trimming of each take can be adjusted without affecting other sections of audio.
Stellar supports fading of the program audio, and this was vital due to the presence of the original dialogue in the master sound track. Audio dip timing and depth could be set and previewed within Stellar during the recording process, and afterwards in QC.
Once the voice artists were happy with their recordings, an initial QC was performed on each Task, and some minor changes made. Here the auto QC system within Stellar identified dialogue with no audio recording and other errors.
Then the three script files were combined, along with their associated audios, to create a new master script with all the roles in a new Task. Another QC was performed with a full preview replay, including all the new dialogue, original audio and fades. Any minor changes or re-records were then performed. Each voice artist could open the master version, re-record one or two changes, and the results were instantly available to all users.
The final stage was to produce the output audio mixes. A mono wav dialogue track, and a separate full program audio mix, were created using the audio mixer tool within Stellar.
Stellar alone was used for all stages of the workflow from scripting, editing, collaboration, recording, QC, final review, and output mixing.
Cara Edney, CEO of Hear Say Audio Description:
“We wouldn’t have been able to complete this intricate project without the shared task capabilities in Stellar, as it allows for different talents to access the latest versions, for a QC to occur efficiently and leave comments/feedback etc without having to download and import separate file versions. This greatly simplified the version control problems associated with a project of this size.”
– “The Stellar Task system also allows for quicker talent onboarding as a task can be created by an experienced Stellar user and then the scripter/VO only needs training for box and script creation/basic editing. These skills are often very intuitive and closely mimic other software workflows which the talent is already familiar with”.
– “The task system also increases asset security as only the projects are shared and not high resolution media assets.”
Matt Deakin, CEO of Yella Umbrella:
“Yella Umbrella were delighted to work with Hear Say AD on this challenging project. The new Task System was in late beta testing, but not available for general use. The size of the project at 120 mins, 17 roles and over 1600 audio clips, made this an excellent test of the new system.
The project also highlighted useful workflow additions, such as splitting scripts by roles and recombining into a master script, that we have added as a standard feature.
Once the Task System is released later in September 2023 we look forward to working with many new customers on similar and even larger projects.”
Contact Us to arrange an online demonstration or come and see us at IBC 2023.