Riccardo Rossi dubs the lead character of a Black Beach, a film recently released on Netflix. “A two-sided film, which starts off in a given way, then begins to change into something else halfway through”.
If you read the review, you’ll probably get the impression that working on such a film must have been extremely challenging, but Riccardo immediately points out that «sure, compare to the actor, a dubber must prepare less for the role and he must focus more on the extemporaneous aspect. But in dubbing, a whole lot of work is done before the recording session begins: translation, script adaptation, actually directing the dubbing session… the dubbing director is, in a way, the film director. He views the whole film, distributes it, calls the right dubbers for the several roles. Then he tells all the dubbers about the peculiarities of each character. And I must say that Francesco Prando did a great job.
Even though… in a couple of years’ time nobody will need us anymore [he chuckles] The newscast ‘Studio Aperto’ actually called my sister Emanuela Rossi to hear her take on this.
They mention an Israeli startup that is apparently capable of dubbing films into all languages, using the original actor’s voice… Sure, technology is unstoppable, but I don’t think it will actually be possible, because interpretation, acting, dubbing all involve feelings and emotions. Can artificial intelligence really reproduce these facets? I think not. Take theatre shows, for example: they always offer a different sort of emotion. I, myself, don’t always have the exact same tone of voice when uttering the same sentence several times. My tone may vary from one day to another, from one moment to another. It’s all so subtle. Apparently, though, one day we’ll have virtual actors and virtual voices… nothing will be real. A whole lot of holograms… sounds like a nightmare, but who knows… it may actually be possible.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve heard people saying this job was doomed. Yet I’ve been doing this job for 50 years now. This film too, consists of thrills, betrayals, love, hate, passion… and it’s our job to convey these feelings. I honestly cannot see a machine doing it.
Dubbing lies somewhere between art and craftsmanship. It features both artistic and artisanal elements. Every single job is different, just as it is for a carpenter who gives shape to wood. Craftsmen are beginning to disappear, but I firmly believe there are things only they can do. Things large-scale industries are not capable of.
That’s why I disagree when I hear people generalise and say that dubbing is no longer as good as it used to be because streaming TV platforms have changed our work, to the detriment of quality. Quite the contrary: I think nothing about our job has changed. These platforms have simply boosted the demand for dubbing, supporting us in a time of global crisis. Quality had been falling before the advent of these platforms. Truth be told, Netflix actually has a pretty high standard, in terms of dubbing quality. When dubbing Black Beach, we complied with all the due standards, timing and modalities. And I believe it shows (I watched the film yesterday night, even to be ready for this interview…).»