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Answerman - Why Do I Hear Echoes of Japanese Voices in Dubs of Old Anime?




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mgosdin



Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 1268
Location: Kissimmee, Florida, USA
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:41 pm Reply with quote
I worked in the School District's AV studio in High School ( Early 70's ) and became familiar with all the quirks of multi-track audio. I consider myself to be an Audio fan, in addition to Anime & Manga, so I do have a working Reel - to - Reel home unit ( 1/4" tape, 4 Channels ) and a variety of Cassettes including a Tascam Porta-Studio.

Analog recordings can be as good as Digital, the opposite is true that Digital can be as bad as any bad Analog recording. It all lies in the recording engineer's hands.

I can sympathize with any of the Japanese engineers who are having to wrestle with old recordings in order to get an acceptable sound track for modern re-releases.

Mark Gosdin
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I_Drive_DSM



Joined: 11 Feb 2008
Posts: 150
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:54 pm Reply with quote
I also deal with reel-to-reel formats in the archive I work in.

One occurrence during this time that a lot of various production companies and similar discovered is that, even then, managing reel-to-reel was often very prohibitive. Either a company couldn't justify the cost of a high end reel unit or they would simply outsource to a vendor or contractor on a case basis. These formats also saw deterioration VERY quickly, as opposed to more "modern" consumer grade video and audio formats and were in all likelihood improper storage methods. Even if you did have the reels in the HUGE hulking cases they were stored in you really need very intricate climate controlled conditions to preserve the tape.

What did start occurring in the dawn of consumer analog video days is you would often see companies transfer their audio track(s) to a then- more easily accessible video format - UMatic, Beta, etc - and then keep the moving picture recording separate on the same format. I've come across a lot of various recordings of moving picture and then the master audio from that moving picture having been transferred from a reel-to-reel master onto a more accessible format "master" (it's more of a 2nd generation dub of sorts). There's often two or three tapes of "audio" - music, spoken words, etc - and then the video itself. The idea behind this is if you did need the audio separate from the moving picture you would have each on a same readily accessible, and thus usable, format.

While there is discernable differences in the audio over the master you have to be an astute audiophile to hear it. Most of this sort of footage was likely broadcast or put onto some sort of consumer grade video playback format (VHS, for example), both of which are going to be limited by whatever audio device is played back through them. Most people viewing the final broadcast on their console TV with mono audio probably couldn't tell - nor cared.
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OjaruFan2



Joined: 09 Jul 2018
Posts: 206
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:42 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
This is a phenomenon where a machine playing back a tape has heads that are slightly misaligned with the machine that recorded the tape, and therefore, the heads are picking up a little bit of the audio from neighboring tracks. So, let's say you have a master where channels 1 & 2 are dialogue, channels 3 & 4 are sound effects, and channels 5 & 6 are music.. You might be trying to play back just channels 3-6 so that "music and effects" can be provided to an overseas company for dubbing. But the tape head for channel 3 is picking up a little bit of stray audio from channel 2 next to it, and therefore a faint, ghostly rumble of dialogue can be heard.

If the intent of playing back channels 3-6 was just to get an music and effects track, then I wonder what was the point in having the channels 1 & 2 tapes just sitting on the machine if they weren't going to be included in the music and effects track.
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FLCLGainax



Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 579
Location: USA
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:04 pm Reply with quote
I've heard the Japanese voices bleed through on old anime dubs ripped from bilingual laserdiscs, but I don't remember noticing it on other formats.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 3449
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:48 pm Reply with quote
I heard this on a new show, in Revue Starlight, there was a bit where they were in an aquarium, and there was some school children, and they are all exited and laughing, and it is clearly from the Japanese track.
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mrakai



Joined: 30 Oct 2003
Posts: 34
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:05 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
I heard this on a new show, in Revue Starlight, there was a bit where they were in an aquarium, and there was some school children, and they are all exited and laughing, and it is clearly from the Japanese track.


It's possible that the "walla" (background conversations, crowd noise, etc) is included in the M&E since it was a prerecorded sound effect, or the dub studio just used it since it was cheaper/easier than assembling a group of people to make background noise.
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belvadeer



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 4678
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:56 am Reply with quote
mrakai wrote:
It's possible that the "walla" (background conversations, crowd noise, etc) is included in the M&E since it was a prerecorded sound effect, or the dub studio just used it since it was cheaper/easier than assembling a group of people to make background noise.


That reminds me of one particular scene in Tales of Berseria. To avoid specific spoilers, I'll just say that early in the game, a crowd of people are cheering for the newly appointed Shepherd and they're chanting "Doushi! Doushi!" in the English dub. It's a strange oversight because it's quite audible, and I'm sure they could have had a group of the VAs present just chant "Shepherd! Shepherd!" instead.
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
Posts: 418
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:47 am Reply with quote
OjaruFan2 wrote:

If the intent of playing back channels 3-6 was just to get an music and effects track, then I wonder what was the point in having the channels 1 & 2 tapes just sitting on the machine if they weren't going to be included in the music and effects track.


All the channels were present on the master tape because that's what the Japanese studio needed when they produced the film. It's only when a dub was being made that the dialogue might be switched off so only the sound effects and the music can be heard.

The whole point of having multiple tracks on a tape is so you can turn each one on and off (as well as independently adjust its volume) during the production process. Let's say you're making a movie and the SFX aren't loud enough but the music is too loud. Easy: raise the volume on the SFX tracks and lower the volume on the music tracks.

Or as another example: you're recording a band to make a record. Each instrument and each singer's microphone is recorded on its own track. The engineer can adjust the relative volume of each of those things all at once (that's what those big "mixing consoles" were for). That includes muting tracks when you no longer need that sound in the mix. Suppose the band we're recording has a guitar, bass, drums, 3 people singing vocals, a keyboard, and a violin. That's 8 tracks all being recorded at once. If the violin is only used briefly for the intro of the song and again during the ending the engineer would likely mute the violin track once the intro is finished, then turn that track back on again at the end of the song.

Now you might ask: If the violin only plays during the beginning and end of the song, why mute the track during the interim? After all, it should be silent, right? Theoretically that track would be "silent", but nothing in real life is ever truly silent. The pickup or microphone for that violin will be recording other things even if the instrument is not being played. And likewise, for example, the lead singer's mic is going to be picking up a bit of the guitar he's playing too. The Drum mic is going to pick up a bit of the drummer's voice, etc. Thus the ability to selectively mute and un-mute tracks is important for the engineer since it allows them better control over what sounds are or are not making their way into the final recording.

It's just a method of separating the individual sounds in a movie or song so that it's easier for the engineers to work with. The same idea has having multiple layers in graphic editing software. Modern recordings made on digital systems might have hundreds of tracks for a given song or movie, some of which are only used for a brief moment and are otherwise silent.


Last edited by Shiflan on Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:12 am; edited 2 times in total
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
Posts: 418
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:05 am Reply with quote
FLCLGainax wrote:
I've heard the Japanese voices bleed through on old anime dubs ripped from bilingual laserdiscs, but I don't remember noticing it on other formats.


I'm curious how that happened. Laserdiscs have four audio tracks: Analog left/right and digital left/right. Normally these contain the same thing, they just give the viewer a choice of which to listen to.

American LDs which offered a "choice" of dub or sub put the Dub on one format and the sub on the other. For example, the Analog tracks might hold the Japanese audio for the sub, while the digital tracks might contain the English dub audio. Other times on "directors cut" or other special editions of movies you'd have a situation where the digital tracks would contain the normal movie soundtrack while the analog contained director's commentary. You could switch between the language or commentary by just switching analog vs. digital audio on your remote.

Laserdisc players which are not properly adjusted can have a problem with crosstalk between the analog L and R tracks. For example, a little of the Left Analog channel might bleed into the Right analog channel, or vice-versa. But as far as I know that's the extent of the problem. An analog track cannot have crosstalk with a digital track. And the digital L/R tracks cannot have crosstalk between each other. So if you're playing the Analog audio tracks on an LD it's not possible for you to hear a little of the Digital tracks at the same time. And vice-versa. Any case of a bilingual LD having a bit of both the dub and sub audio mixed together points to an error in the engineering process, not something that happened during playback. In other words, it's not the player which is at fault, rather the crosstalk was on the master used to create the disc.

Interestingly, I once owned an LD (the anime Psycho Diver) which was incorrectly mastered from the factory. It only had SFX and music tracks, no dialogue!

Those sorts of errors were not unheard of. The first pressing of Card Captor Sakura vol. 1 had a similar audio problem which resulted in those discs being recalled and re-issued. That makes it very hard to get your hands on a full boxed set of CCS on LD, because the box for the first few volumes came with that recalled Vol. 1. Unless you managed to get your hands on one before they were recalled, and chose not to return it even though the disc was defective, then you didn't get the box.
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FLCLGainax



Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 579
Location: USA
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:18 pm Reply with quote
Shiflan wrote:
FLCLGainax wrote:
I've heard the Japanese voices bleed through on old anime dubs ripped from bilingual laserdiscs, but I don't remember noticing it on other formats.


I'm curious how that happened. Laserdiscs have four audio tracks: Analog left/right and digital left/right. Normally these contain the same thing, they just give the viewer a choice of which to listen to.
It was from a Japanese-market laserdisc where two languages shared an analog stereo track. English would be on the left and Japanese on the right. TVs sold in Japan had a feature where the user could select which side of the stereo track they'd want to hear.
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
Posts: 418
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:01 pm Reply with quote
FLCLGainax wrote:
It was from a Japanese-market laserdisc where two languages shared an analog stereo track. English would be on the left and Japanese on the right. TVs sold in Japan had a feature where the user could select which side of the stereo track they'd want to hear.


Gotcha, yeah, I've seen those before. It's not all that common, but you can record two entirely unrelated audio tracks on stereo L&R. The one I saw used the stereo analog part of the disc for two unrelated commentaries. One was the director and the other was the main actor and you could switch between which commentary you wanted to hear. Meanwhile the digital side had the standard movie soundtrack.

Anyway, point is that it's not an error. It's a feature. You should be able to make it work on most players/TVs by setting the audio balance control all the way to either L or R.
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