There are many different types of acting, but the most universally recognized can often be when one is standing on a stage or in front of a camera. For Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari, a different type of acting challenge is presented to him on a regular basis.
Zaffari dubs Spanish telenovelas into Portuguese, his native language. Dubbing, also known as revoicing, is the replacement of the voices of the original actors with a different performer in another language. To do so, Zaffari receives the video and script with all the timelines of exactly where his character speaks and reacts in an episode. He then studies those lines and goes to a sound studio to record the revoicing of his character.
“As an actor, speciﬁcally for ﬁlm and television, you get all you can from circumstances that are happening around you and in your imagination. When it’s me, I try to absorb as much stimuli as I can from my acting partner, location, sometimes music, smells, senses,” he said. “But in a sound studio all you have is a cubicle with foam and the recordings that you see on the screen, and on top of that, all you have to show what your character is feeling is through your voice. It is challenging.”
Zaffari is currently cast in three telenovelas with Voxx Studios. These seven to nine month commitment are the Colombian Allá Te Espero which is soon to be completed, Venezuela’s Piel Salvaje, and the Venezuelan American Voltea Pá Que Te Enamores.
Although it is more common for Portuguese dubbing studios to be in Miami and Brazil, Voxx set up their studio in LA because they believe that is where the most talented actors are located.
“I’m really honored to know that after I joined Voxx Studios, they continued to hire me on all of their new telenovelas. It’s a great opportunity to voice different characters,” said Zaffari.
The sound booth where Zaffari works is a cubicle about eight feet by eight feet covered in foam so the sound does not reverberate, a microphone, a headphone, two televisions (one for the video and one for the lines with the proper time codes). There is also a sound-proof window that goes through to a different room where the sound engineer and the director are located.
“It can be quite hard,” described Zaffari. “You need to match your voice to the mouth of the original actor. Sometimes the Spanish is too fast and it is hard to match everything in Portuguese to that pace. Sometimes we have to change it to what people would understand instead of a perfect translation, without changing the meaning, of course.”
Zaffari describes acting as the hardest job in the world. He says that feeling as someone else is extremely challenging, but with dubbing, you do not have the capability to pull from your surroundings and react instantly to the people around you.
“Dubbing is not on location,” he said. “You are in a cubicle. You don’t have another actor to pull emotion from. Your partner is a microphone and a television. The senses I use when I am acting
I can’t use when I am dubbing. I am not there. You need to put all of those things you would normally use into your microphone and just use your voice.”
Despite the challenges that dubbing can present, there are many parts that Zaffari enjoys.
“In a way it is less stressful because you are not on camera so you can just wear your comfortable clothes,” he said. “But I really like to put a little bit of my interpretation into a character, even though it is another actor’s performance.”
Zaffari said that when he ﬁrst started dubbing, he was conﬂicted on how to approach each character.
“Should I dub as my personal interpretation of what that character is going through? Or as the original actor’s interpretation?,” he said, describing his initial thought process. “But to me now, it is a mixture of those two things.”
Leila Vieira, Zaffari’s dubbing director for Piel Salvaje, thinks Zaffari’s mixture is working out very well.
“One of the main qualities an actor has to have in order to be good at dubbing is being able to recognize and mimic pace,” described Vieira. “Lucas has an incredible ability for listening to the dialogue and being able to reproduce it in Portuguese with perfection, making the process fast at the same time as high quality with his great acting skills. Aside from recognizing pace, acting with only your voice can be a challenge that Lucas masters with ﬂying colors.”
Vieira believes that it is not only Zaffari’s inherent talent that makes him successful at dubbing, but also his personality as a whole.
“Lucas is the nicest person you could ever work with,” she said. “Not only he has an amazing working ethic, but he also has a great personality that accepts critiques and understands the adjustments, which makes the whole process fast and productive.”
Sebastian Zancanaro, another director at Voxx, describes Zaffari as the ultimate professional.
“I cast Lucas as Francisco (Pacho) in the dramatic soap opera Alla Te Espero and I was mesmerized by his commitment to our team and by his stamina. His unique skill as a Portuguese speaker actor in conjunction with his acting abilities make him one of our most valuable cast members,” said Zancanaro. Lucas has also being cast as Pedro in our upcoming soap opera project entitled Our Family, our longest and most prized project to date.
Zaffari says that dubbing with Voxx is a great working environment.
“It is so much fun,” he said. “There are so many nice and talented people around, which makes this creative work much more richer.”
Zaffari has no plans on slowing down.
This versatile actor has already started dubbing the new telenovela Somos Família (Our Family) as Pedro.