FORIEGN LANGUAGE DUBBING
Translation, Casting, Dubbing, Subtitling
Outline: Pokémon Ep 1-52
Customer: The WB
Company: 4Kids Entertainment
Buyer Persona: Show Runner / Producer of Episodic Entertainment
Author: Rich Macar
Due Date: 12/1998
Publish Date: 11/1/23.
Pokémon Ep 1-52: Dubbing 52 episodes into English, including sfx adaptions, original Pokémon sound design, sound edit, stereo broadcast mix, delivered in six months.
● 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. was an American licensing company. The company was previously also a film and television production company that produced English-dubbed Japanese anime through its subsidiary 4Kids Productions between 1992 and 2012; it specialized in the acquisition, production and licensing of children’s entertainment around the United States. The first anime that 4Kids Productions dubbed was the first eight seasons of Pokémon that originally began airing on first run syndication and then it later moved to exclusively air on Kids’ WB!
● Buttons Sound Inc. From a well-known reputation as one of the first NYC pioneers in Digital Production, using the first Synclavier at NYC’s Premier Post Sound Co, SOUND ONE with Stephen King, as well as Francis Ford Coppola,
● to Buttons representing and beta testing the Spectral Synthesis Digital Audio Workstation delivering the first 16 track hard disk recorder,
● to Buttons representing the first Hard Disk Video playback device the VMOD100, Buttons Sound was the only option that could utilize digital technology effectively to dub, produce, and delivery 52 thirty minute Pokémon episodes for WB distribution in a 6 month delivery window.
The Story of 4Kids Productions
The 1990s were seen as turning point for the company. In the early 1990s, LCI expanded its operations and began television production in 1992. This would include English-dubbing Japanese anime through its subsidiary 4Kids Productions, which the company would be mostly known for.
In 1987, Bobby Kotick (now President and CEO of Activision Blizzard) tried to acquire Commodore International. When Kotick was unsuccessful, he instead purchased a controlling stake in LCI, thus also becoming LCI’s CEO and chairman in June 1990. Kotick later traded out of his stake in LCI and bought a 25% stake in Activision in December 1990. In March 1991, Kotick became CEO at Activision.
The company did $6 million in sales in 1989 and employed 14 people by 1990.
On March 12, 1991, LCI appointed Alfred Kahn as its chairman and CEO.
The Opportunity/Challenge of 4Kids Productions
The 4Kids agreement with Nintendo to bring Pokémon to US TV, along with the sudden opportunity for distribution on The WB, created a difficult challenge to find a NYC Sound Agency that could accept the challenge as reasonable, though unheard-of, and manage to produce 2 thirty minutes episodes per week.
Why Norman Grossfeld of 4Kids Prod. Chose Buttons Sound
Along with the production company, Taj Productions, Norman had to be assured how and why we believed we could delivery on a feat never accomplished before. And Norman required demonstrations as well as lengthy process outlines and real production quantifications. Norman was considering Buttons based on Taj Productions recommendations of Taj’s previous extensive work with Buttons producing together Anime tv series like Slayers, Anime feature films like Gall Force, as well as the USA Cartoon Express ,176 promo spot, 3 phase campaign for the USA Network.
How Buttons Sound Responded
Having unique extensive experience using the latest digital tools, one challenge was the production schedule. The second challenge technical flexibility that would not only accommodate the needed production force but utilize digital assets across multiple systems. The third challenge was that the industry was not fully developed in computers locking to video reference via timecode. No current DAW had picture built it. Avid just acquired Digidesign to prevent bankruptcy. So, Buttons was using the Spectral Synthesis system, having 3 such systems and Rich knew that it recently gained representation of the first digital video hard disk recorder made by Steinbeck in Europe, that could chase Spectral generated time-code locations. This allowed us ability to dub, edit, and adjust dialogue recordings all within the Spectral 16 track multitrack recorder. An additional challenge updating all systems with removable hard drives to add ability to move projects and video media to and from systems constantly. And finally Rich organized a team of 7 technicians that prepped projects, recorded episodes from Digi beta, rotating 36 hard drives daily between 3 record systems, and 3 back-room systems. We also bought an Acoustic Systems Iso Booth and set up 1 primary dubbing stage in 11 days. Once Norman saw this in action, he knew he was in the right hands.
It should be noted that both Norman or the Taj team had no experience with production scheduling and management. Therefore, Rich took on the task, mapping out a six-month daily schedule that included total lines to be recorded, what rate was needed, by which day. When music needs to arrive, when finally, assembly was due and when mixes could be scheduled, reviewed, and delivered.
Pokémon, the TV series was an instant hit on the WB. All airdate deliveries were met. In fact at a midway point, 4Kids and Taj presented to Buttons that 20 of the Pokémon names had been mispronounced. In addition to producing 8 episodes per month, it was required that we correct 20 previous episodes. Rich established a challenging schedule for one month that was “…every day we will need to correct an episode, every day 4Kids would need to approve a corrected episode, and every day Buttons would need to remix and deliver an episode. If any of the 3 parties fail, then we all fail, and would lose a day, causing a missed airdate for WB, to rerun an episode…” The good news was that all 3 parties did not fail that month. We achieved producing 8 new episodes and correcting 20 episodes in one month.
The new century found 4Kids Entertainment Inc., switching from the NASDAQ market and joining the New York Stock Exchange on September 20, 2000. The firm’s new ticker symbol was KDE, and the company was riding high during the continuing success of “Pokemon” when it earned Fortune’s top slot on its 100 Fastest Growing Companies for 2000. The company was also listed on the Frankfurt Exchange earlier in the year.
On April 5, 2000, 4Kids and Mattel signed a licensing agreement to create Hot Wheels die-cast cars and racing sets featuring the PACE Motor Sports line of monster trucks. The license included rights to the monster truck Grave Digger, and a new line of World Championship Wrestling vehicles designed after their star wrestlers such as Goldberg, Sting and Bret Hart. The PACE Motor Sports and World Championship Wrestling line of Hot Wheels vehicles have been available nationally at mass-market retailers beginning in the summer of that year.
In 2001, 4Kids Entertainment obtained the merchandising and television rights to the series Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters from Nihon Ad Systems, producing an English-language version which aired in North America on Kids’ WB from September 29, 2001, to June 10, 2006.
In October 2001, 4Kids Entertainment acquired a 3% stake in The Pokémon Company, in a move to benefit indirectly from Pokémon’s success in Asia, and from worldwide sales of Pokémon electronic cards and video games.
In late January 2002, after engaging in a bidding war with DIC Entertainment, 4Kids Entertainment signed a four-year, US$100 million deal with the Fox Broadcasting Company to program its Saturday morning lineup. 4Kids Entertainment was wholly responsible for the content of the block and collected all advertising revenues from it.
Rich, our founder was calling his first-born Pikachu before anyone knew about Pikachu.
Should you and your team be faced with large sound media opportunities that include difficult production and delivery challenges, call to schedule a meeting with Buttons Sound Team.