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Adapt Entertainment hopes to boost foreign film market with A.I. dubbing

Apr 13, 2022
Illustration of a different flag of the world making up each frame of a film strip.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Amid the rise in popularity of foreign-language content, Adapt Entertainment developed a way to sync an entire film's dialogue with a different language.

Why it matters: Rather than spend millions remaking a film, Adapt's technology can essentially redo a film in any language for a fraction of the cost.

  • "It's not a deepfake. This is real technology. This is a real game-changer, where we can start bringing more content in from a lot of places," Adapt Entertainment CEO Darryl Marks tells Axios.

What's next: While the company is currently self-financed, Marks said they're reaching out to potential investors for additional funding.

Driving the news: Last week, Adapt completed its fully synced English-language version of Maciej Barczewski's Holocaust sports drama "The Champion," which had been in Polish and German.

  • Marks bought the domestic rights to the film for $100,000 during last year's Cannes Film Festival. "It's not necessarily that I wanted to buy it, but I needed to get something to do a proof of concept," Marks says.
  • He is looking for a U.S. distributor for Adapt's version of "The Champion" and says its technology will be used in a scene in Netflix's Polish film "The Taming of the Shrewd," which premieres Wednesday.

How it works: Adapt uses an A.I. neural-rendering process it calls Plato to match the facial and mouth movements of actors who speak other languages, accounting for different angles and lighting.

  • For "The Champion," Adapt was able to get 17 of the film's 23 actors to learn their lines in English and then rerecord their dialogue in front of cameras that captured their facial movements.
  • Marks said it took about seven days of recording and an additional eight weeks to convert the movie. The whole process took around three months.

The big picture: As distributors eye licensing and selling their content into more countries, subtitles remain a barrier for some viewers.

  • That's made dubbing a bigger business as it's become more important for distributors and streaming services like Netflix, which has found huge success with foreign-language hits like "Squid Game" and "Money Heist."
  • Last year, Netflix dubbed more than five million minutes of programming, and consumption of dubbed programming was up 120%, the company told the Los Angeles Times.
  • Marks says he's gotten interest in the last few days from distributors asking about the Plato process. Eventually, he hopes the major streamers work with him to "sync" their content in other languages, rather than dub or subtitle.
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