Growing up, Sylvanian Families were my favourite toy. I had the school, the bakery, the windmill & my dad (who was into model railways) even built me a big landscape with a fake waterfall & little caves for my Sylvanians to live in with working lights! When I got older I sold them all but I really wish I'd kept them. Not just because they'd probably be worth loaaaads of money but also because Sylvanian families are still going strong decades later!
It's partly thanks to Sylvanian Families that I became a voice actor. I loved playing with my older sister, giving each Sylvanian it's own distinctive voice & personality and trying to imitate her characters too. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to bring these characters to life in new animated episodes for Sylvanian Official. The only snag was that the original animation was in Japanese!
You've probably heard of dubbing or lip syncing. This is the process of re-recording the audio from one language into a new one. Simple right? Well not quite. For one, I don't speak Japanese! The sentence lengths, structure and intonations in Japanese are very different to English. This means that the mouth movements of the characters (or mouth flaps as we call them) aren't always in the right place for the dialogue. We've all seen those bad dubs where the mouth of the character is moving but no sound is coming out & vice versa. That's what we want to avoid as it's distracting & suspends disbelief. Of course if you're lucky & you are the original actor, sometimes the animators will work to your voice & fit the mouth flaps to you. But then I'd be out of a job 🤣
With the advent of Amazon prime, NowTV & Netflix there is now great demand for voice actors who are trained & experienced in the art of dubbing. It's much easier & cheaper to take a successful foreign language show & change the soundtrack than it would be to re-record & re-film something from scratch. If it's done really well, you shouldn't even notice English wasn't the original language.
The episodes I worked on are now available in 16 different languages on Netflix (but obviously I'm biased and think the English version is the best!). It's great that we can spread the joy of Sylvanian Families to everyone across the globe!