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Voice-over Translation

An Overview- Second Edition

Eliana P.C. Franco, Anna Matamala and Pilar Orero

This book presents the first study of voice-over from a wide approach, including not only academic issues but also a description of the practice of voice-over around the globe. The authors define the concept of voice-over in Film Studies and Translation Studies and clarify the relationship between voice-over and other audiovisual transfer modes. They also describe the translation process in voice-over both for production and postproduction, for fiction and non-fiction.
The book also features course models on voice-over which can be used as a source of inspiration by trainers willing to include this transfer mode in their courses. A global survey on voice-over in which both practitioners and academics express their opinions and a commented bibliography on voice-over complete this study. Each chapter includes exercises which both lecturers and students can find useful.


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1. Voice-Over from Film Studies to Translation Studies 17


1. Voice-Over from Film Studies to Translation Studies 1.1 The origins of the term voice-over Voice-over is a term which originated in the area of Film Studies and is still used by filmmakers. From the very beginning of cinema in the late 1890s, silent movies relied on ‘lecturers’ hired by exhibitors to provide running commentaries for the audience of unbroken takes (films) or a string of several films (programmes). The main function of lecturers in fiction films was to fill the gap between “the viewers’ inexperience at ‘read- ing’ narrative images” and “the filmmakers’ lack of skill in conveying tem- poral, spatial, and narrative relationships” (Kozloff 1988: 23–24). In Ja- pan, for example, the popularity of lecturers (or benshi) became enormous to the point of delaying the introduction of sound to cinema.1 People would go to cinemas mostly to see their favourite benshis perform rather than to see the film stars. By 1912, lecturers had lost ground to intertitles and the motives were twofold. Firstly, films had moved from small halls to purpose-built cinemas, which increased the difficulties of voice projec- tion. Secondly, film technique was developing fast, mainly as a result of the development of editing and new narrative strategies. Despite having lived through an era of glory, intertitles became obtrusive in film and, consequently, efforts were made to avoid them as much as possible. But apart from criticism, the importance of intertitling and lecturing is evi- denced in the fact that they have continued to survive in...

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