HBO Max: dubbing On the Spectrum

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About the client

HBO Max is a subscription video-on-demand streaming platform owned by WarnerMedia with approximately 37.7 million total subscribers. With popular original content, such as Wonder Woman 1984 and The Flight Attendant, as well as movies, documentaries and children’s series, its streaming service caters to all ages. VSI teamed up with HBO Max and Exceptional Minds – a non-profit academy and post-production studio for people with autism – to produce a US English dub, forced narratives and closed captions for the original series On the Spectrum.

The project

Services:
English Dub, Forced Narratives and Closed Captions

Languages:
US English

To date, VSI has produced several US English lip-sync dubs in collaboration with HBO Max, including the acclaimed Spanish series Veneno, the biographical story of one of the most beloved transgender icons of the 90s. For this, VSI Los Angeles brought in an all-transgender cast to provide an accurate representation of the characters and their stories.

Our newest dubbing project with HBO Max, On the Spectrum, is an Israeli series about three young adults with different types of autism, all of whom live together in a shared flat. The show explores the unique ways in which each flatmate relates to the people in their lives and the world around them.

Across ten 30-minute episodes, On the Spectrum subtly navigates between comedy and drama, while offering unique views into the day-to-day experiences and challenges of the characters.

These exciting HBO Max Original localisation productions were carried out in synergy with our company core values of inclusivity, representation and diversity.  

Our approach

Our main goal was to provide an English dub that was authentic and respectful to the autistic community. Having a strong casting department was critical in achieving this. Underpinned by our longstanding commitment to casting talent that both represents the original production and meets our clients’ requirements, we aimed to find actors with or without dubbing experience who identified as being on the spectrum. We held auditions and selected the actors who would become the US English voices of the show’s characters.

Finding the right person to direct this project played a key role in the outcome of the dub, and HBO Max also requested that the director be on the spectrum or have close ties to the community. Our team identified a dubbing director to onboard, with personal interest in the subject and previous experience in casting and directing autistic actors.

The dubbing adapters were instructed to be mindful of the language used in their adaptation and ensure that it worked for all those involved. They also sought to mitigate any potential risks within the localised content that could negatively impact the wider audiences and viewing experience. Throughout the project, Exceptional Minds were heavily involved as consultants. Using their experience in this space, they reviewed all of the scripts, suggested actors who identified as being on the spectrum and were involved throughout the casting process. They also reviewed and approved the final screeners. In addition, they offered guidance on any questions that the director came across in the studio.

Videos and scripts were shared with the talent prior to the recordings, so that they could prepare and feel comfortable with the content ahead of their sessions.

Outcome

We believe in celebrating diversity in our casting process, and through our dubbing productions, work with talented actors, adapters and directors from different communities, cultures and backgrounds. With Exceptional Minds’ assistance, our LA team and dubbing director created an American English version of On the Spectrum that provides an authentic portrayal of the original content, with a respectful nod to the autistic community.

We received highly positive feedback on the English dub samples provided and were able to achieve a smooth recording schedule from start to finish, regardless of the pandemic. This enabled us to meet the expected timeline, making the first episodes available to the public on 2nd April, in time for World Autism Awareness Day.

Take a look below for a behind-the-scenes preview.

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