New Generation Pictures Opens Shanghai Studio
posted on by Zac Bertschy
Interview with Jonathan Klein, founder of New Generation Pictures
ANN: Please describe your new venture to us.
Jonathan Klein: New Generation Pictures has opened up its first production branch office in Shanghai, China. We will be producing English and Chinese language dubs there for the film, television, and anime industry at rates lower than we can in Los Angeles. The combination of our 15 years of experience in production and localization with the enormous resources that Shanghai has to offer will help to insure that we maintain the highest quality work for our clients.
Does this mean New Generation Pictures is relocating to Shanghai?
No, this is simply an expansion of our business into Shanghai, China. We have no intention of leaving our office in Beverly Hills or stop working on production in Los Angeles. We will continue to produce anime and videogame dubs in Los Angeles for our clients. But now we also can provide similar services through our Shanghai office which allows us to reach a larger range of clientele that are based worldwide. And for our Japan- and Asia-based clients, it offers convenience for clients who want to be able to deal with vendors in the same time zone (or close to it) while production is going on.
What brought this on? Was there a particular catalyst that spurred you to open a studio in Shanghai?
It wasn't that we were “spurred” to open our studio. We had already been doing business in China for several years and had been considering expanding our offices there for a long time. But the final decision to open a studio there was a combination of several factors. The decline in anime DVD sales over the last few years, combined with the ever-increasing costs in acquisition and licensing of new anime titles, has created a difficult situation where many of our anime distribution clients in America have had to find cost-effective solutions to keep their operations profitable. One of the simplest ways to do that is to cut production costs. As a result, some companies have elected to simply not to dub anime and make subtitle-only releases. Some other anime distributors have asked their production company vendors, like New Generation Pictures, to reduce their prices on their English dubs to help keep costs down. The problem for any production company in Los Angeles with lowering the prices on dubs is that you can only go so low before it starts to affect the quality of the dub itself, or you start to lose money. You can't ask experienced voice actors to take a pay-cut. So you either have work much faster with the actors, leaving less time to develop great performances out of them and just bang out a so-so dub. Or you can start hiring non-professional voice acting — directing and writing talent who would work for less money, but would also impact the quality of the dub. New Generation Pictures has a reputation for producing award winning, high-quality anime dubs, and we didn't want to damage that reputation by going down either path. So we looked at how we can lower production costs and still maintain quality. One of the biggest expenditures for any production company is the recording studio itself. Since our company had already been doing business in Shanghai, we knew the cost of operating a recording studio was significantly lower. So we came up with a plan where we can combine our company's experience, skills, and talent that we have in America, with the reduced costs of using a recording studio in Shanghai. Essentially, this is a “hybrid production,” utilizing the best of both worlds.
Another major reason for this expansion is that this was an incredible opportunity to open our business into China. China has become one of the most rapidly developing economic powerhouses in the world. The world is changing, and China is becoming a dominant factor in that change. Our company has been watching the trends in Shanghai over the last few years and know that the city is quickly becoming the largest media production center in all of Asia. The entertainment businesses from Hollywood, Japan, and Europe are all looking towards China and its 1.3-billion population as a new market for their products. They all have started to set up operations in Shanghai. Agents, actors, and other production talent from around the world have moved to Shanghai to take part in ever-increasing amount of film, television, and interactive media work being produced there. We are strongly confident that this city will become one of the leading cities in the field of entertainment production over the next few years and consider ourselves fortunate to be able to be a part of it.
You mentioned that you'll be using American talent at the Shanghai studio; will you be flying them there yourself? Please describe the logistics of using American talent at a Chinese studio.
To clarify, we are going to be using both experienced anime talent from America including writers, directors, and voice actors, as well as utilizing the existing large talent pool of American, Canadian, and European voice-actors who are now living in Shanghai. As I mentioned, Shanghai is rapidly becoming one of the largest media production centers in Asia. Many professional actors from around the world are already living in Shanghai working in the constant flow of international film, television, and other media productions going on there. However, we highly value all of the incredibly talented people who we've worked with in Los Angeles on our anime productions, and we do plan on flying out many fan-favorite English voice actors and directors to work on the titles we record in Shanghai. The cost for us to bring them out to Shanghai is not prohibitive. As China has opened itself to international trade and tourism, it has become a lot easier to work and travel there. We would fly them out at our own expense to work on whatever projects we would be doing at that time. It would very much be like a paid working vacation. The studio that we use in Shanghai has the same recording equipment technology as in America, so it shouldn't feel any different than working in an American recording studio. This will be a great opportunity for so many incredibly talented voice actors and directors to visit such a unique and exciting international city as Shanghai.
What sort of work will be done at the Shanghai studio? Will you only be working on anime dubs, or are there other projects you have in mind?
Aside from producing anime dubs we will be working on localizing any and all media including film, television and interactive titles between the Japanese, Chinese, and English languages. It's our first step to what we call a “Multilingual Global Solution.” As technology is changing and media development and distribution is becoming both far more rapid and globally expansive, there needs to be ways to offer products in multiple languages in much quicker and easier fashion. By establishing our Shanghai international office, we hope to give clients more options for localization without having to deal with several companies to get what they need.
But in addition to dubbing, we also will be establishing our own production division to shoot film and video projects within Shanghai as well as offer consulting and technical services for American production companies who want to film in Shanghai.
Some might argue that this only adds to the problem of voice acting work being outsourced to foreign nations. What's your response to that?
We aren't outsourcing, we're growing. It's still New Generation Pictures, just in Shanghai. We are still producing anime and videogame dubs in Los Angeles and will continue to do so. We're just expanding our company internationally to develop new opportunities in the global market. Clients who want that level of quality that our Los Angeles productions have to offer will still keep using our services here. But now we have a lower-cost alternative when perhaps the anime distributor's budget on a niche title can't justify doing a dub in America. We can help distributors avoid simply turning anime into a “subtitle-only” releases. We now offer a solution to clients who might simply take their dub to the lowest bidding studio (domestic or overseas) that might not have any regards for quality. That's why we're inviting voice actors here in America to work with us in Shanghai. We will use what the best of American dubbing has to offer in combination with the affordability that working in Shanghai provides us to produce the best quality dub that we can.
The studio's press release is available here.