Sprecher sprechen

by Matthias Kratzenstein, published in the Hastings newsletter in October 1999

Today: "I bet I can" ... or "The Kaul brothers"

Imagine you are working for one of Germany's most popular Saturday night tv-shows and someone approaches you with the following bet:
"I bet I can tell you the names of 50 tv series, its actors and even their German voice-overs just by hearing a short clip in which character names are mentioned."

Reaction 1: That guy is a liar.
Reaction 2: Good idea but the average audience is unlikely to even understand the wording of the bet. Reaction 3: Why don't you make this your profession?

Some years ago, a German subeditor thoughtlessly chose Reaction 2 probably without thinking out loud 1 and 3.

The consequence: The two voice-over specialists, known to the sector as the Kaul Brothers, develop Arne Kaul Software (or short "AK Software") in order to offer evidence to the contrary or maybe just following the advice. They will already be celebrating - most probably with friends and family only - their 10th company anniversary.

According to Arne Kaul, his talent and passion for dubbing voices and their auditory distinction has expanded during this time from 500 to an unbelievable 1,800 voices. Of course, computers were available back then and therefore it was not too much of a problem for Arne's brother to help enter Arne's "brain/ears" into an analysable and accessible database. It is mainly the leading voice-over companies who make use of the database in everyday business. Almost on the side, yet with rigorous attention to details, the computer-based software version has been enhanced with a number of additional search criteria over the years.

In order to handle even nonlinear or quasi-creative thought processes and research routines, the programme is able to not only provide standard information such as original cast, dubbing voices, movie or series line-up, character names, but it also allows searching by voice-over company, dubbing director, dubbing screenplay writer, film distributor or broadcasting company. These are ideal preconditions, theoretically, for a typical internet service - especially considering the ambitious yet mostly rather amateurish "expert's reports" that you currently find on the internet when searching for terminological keywords.

Of course, the Kaul Brothers have realized this new demand, but people inquiring about online availability of all this will be put off for two or three years waiting time. Then, however, the programme is supposed to contain not only textual information but also complete audio and video samples of the individual actors and voice-overs. Two to three years, you don't say...

But never mind. Until then we will be as pleased as punch every six months, when Arne comes around in his (pretty neutral) company car with the new software on CD packed carefully and safely in his inconspicuous handbag. We're always looking forward to seeing you, dear Arne.

Hastings Casting-Unit, Matthias Kratzenstein, Phone: 0211 - 3033091 E-Mail: m.kratzenstein@hastings.de

Translation 05/2004 Katrin Stein


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