Dubbing the latest season of American Gods in lockdown


A recently released ex-convict named Shadow meets a mysterious man who calls himself “Wednesday” and knows more than he first seems to about Shadow’s life and past.

The third season of American Gods premiered on Starz in January. For its international release, ZOO Digital worked on the Japanese, Brazilian, Portuguese and Latin American Spanish lip-sync dubs using a combination of studio and remote recording throughout lockdown.

When the pandemic creates added challenges

Fremantle, a British-American multinational television production and distribution company, needed to ensure its acclaimed fantasy drama was localized in time for a much-anticipated season three release. Delivering for simultaneous global distribution is already challenging with quick turnarounds and scheduling, but due to complexities caused by the pandemic, a more flexible approach to lip-sync dubbing was needed.

During the project, Brazil was in the middle of a large-scale lockdown, with access to traditional dubbing studios severely disrupted. Both Freemantle and ZOO wanted to ensure the safety of those involved in the localization process.

The project required a hybrid approach to dubbing, with the Japanese language dub being performed in-studio while the Brazilian and Spanish versions were completed through remote recording. Regardless of the recording environment, consistent quality control was needed to maintain the technical and creative standards of this premium show.

A hybrid solution leads to success

Building on the successful lip-sync dubbing of seasons one and two, the ZOO team jumped onto the hotly anticipated third season. With its cloud-based dubbing service, the way that ZOO operates wasn’t disrupted by studio lockdown – and with a track record of lip-sync dubbing on premium content, the team was eager to kickstart the project.

Recording sessions were all run through ZOOdubs, a comprehensive remote recording, production and management platform that supports the end-to-end dubbing workflow in the cloud, with different recording modes used for different scenarios. In Brazil and Mexico, ‘collaborative recording’ was used to allow multiple actors across different locations to join the online sessions simultaneously, working with the dubbing director in real time to perform natural, flowing dialogue through each scene.

In Japan, ‘studio mode’ was used to connect different microphones for different actors within the dubbing studio – allowing for a more traditional recording process while maintaining the same QC requirements that are built into the system.

“ZOO exceeded our expectations in terms of understanding the process, adapting to the ever-changing nature of production – especially as it was during the height of the first lockdown – and delivering an exceptional product,” said  Sonia Nayyar, Dubbing and Digital Media Manager, Material Operations, at Fremantle. “The team kept all lines of communication open, ensuring anything that affected us – budget or timeline – was communicated in a timely manner.”

The ZOOdubs platform also added time-saving efficiencies across casting, recording, version control and contract management – for both the studio and remote recording languages.

For example, as multiple video versions were given for each episode, the interconnected ZOOscripts tool was used to identify any discrepancies. This automated an admin-heavy process and ensured any differences between versions were immediately identified. Discrepancies were caught automatically, leading to fewer pick-ups and project delays.

Talent and technology deliver a successful season 3

By combining exceptional talent and world-class technology, ZOO was able to support Freemantle in delivering a simultaneous global release of a highly anticipated premium show.

Despite all the added complexities and challenges brought about by the pandemic, ZOO provided a clear solution and strategy, delivering authentic lip-sync dubs while keeping the talent and global teams safe.

“ZOO have always shown the utmost professionalism, with clear communication between all parties,” said Nayyar. “We were able to deliver all materials to Amazon ahead of launch, to cover any potential TX scenarios. All quotes were within our budget and the result was impressive.”

ZOO is dedicated to making life easier for its clients and alleviating any additional challenges they may face during the pandemic. By crafting exceptional lip-sync dubs to support multi-territory release, the ZOO community has helped achieve this.


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