Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Prince of Persia from The Sands of Time trilogy, Lucas Kane from Fahrenheit, Arno Dorian from Assassin’s Creed: Unity – during his long career, Pyotr Glantz-Ivashchenko managed to play many diverse roles. What is necessary for successful work? What problems does the domestic industry have? Peter answered these and many other questions to the editors of .ru.Interview with Peter Glants.  Part 1

: In one of your interviews, you said that you got into video game dubbing quite by accident. Say, they passed by the Fargus office, looked in and stayed. Is this story true, or was it a little different?

Peter Glanz: Yes, this story is absolutely true. The thing is that when I first started studying at the university, it took some kind of part-time job in the summer to earn money for cigarettes, conditionally, for the whole year until next summer. The first holidays I worked in some company that was engaged in the supply of Silicon Graphics computers. At the time, they were trying to sell Onyxes, those four-processor huge banduras that could run serious military simulators. I remember that some of our generals were even invited there, who sat and almost fell off their chair when they saw how the helicopter lays on the left or right side.

For a while I worked at this great company, but then I acted gouging a few times in a row, and I was fired from there. Somehow, walking down the street past some semi-basement not far from the metro, I saw through the window that people were playing computer games. I thought: “Hmm, this must be some kind of computer club! I’ll go and see!” I rang the bell at this completely inconspicuous door leading a few steps into the asphalt. A young guy opened up to me. I only found out later that it was one of the leading Fargus hackers. It so happened that we talked. Most likely, if one of the, relatively speaking, adults had come out to meet me, nothing would have happened, and so we caught on with our tongues. My interlocutor realized that I also do programming. It turned out that I saw testers who raced games after assembly to check that everything worked. Literally from that very day, my work began. First, I completed a test task, something else, and later I came to Fargus on a permanent basis.

SG: How was the process of dubbing in Fargus? Was the work divided into some tangible stages, or did everything happen in the shortest possible time?

PG: Everything happened in the shortest possible time, otherwise it was impossible, because now we are not talking about the so-called “Fargus Gold”, which is in fact the fifth or sixth edition, but about new products. The fact is that after 7 Wolf spun off from Fargus, there was a lot of competition on the market. In fact, the winner was the one who was the first to throw the circulation on the market, while the quality of the final product was not to say that it was important. Previously, there were not as many games released as there are now. People were waiting for very specific releases, they went to these tents almost every day, asking: “Do you have any? Appeared? Did you come out?” Hence the scheme that the one who first throws out a pack of discs wins, even if with a crooked-oblique translation. Even such a print run sold out instantly.

The following deliveries were not taken apart by people so actively – they relaxed. Initially, the first versions of dubbing and translation were made in the shortest possible time, which is why I joined the whole thing. It was far from always possible to pull out professional actors for this job, and it was necessary to write here and now. Interestingly, the game, in fact, could be prepared for sale in a couple of days – the speed is enchanting. Literally, as soon as a foreign dump appeared, hackers immediately took it on.

Basically, after the death of Ivanhoe, the leading Fargus hacker, all work was done remotely. Crackers opened the source code, took out the text and transferred it to the translators. They adapted it to the Russian language and sent it back to the programmers so that they put it back into the release. This is where the voiceover was written. In general, as I already said, nothing was spent on short IPs. It is clear that huge releases took longer, and I’m not talking about Fargus Gold, which the company tried to make as high quality as possible. In fact, we were engaged in professional localization, only there were no lockkits on hand, and on the phone – a distributor from Western partners.

SG: By what principle did the company determine that this game should be voiced with the participation of professional actors, but programmers will come down to this one? Was there a system?

PG: There was no system as such. Of course, we tried to involve professional actors in dubbing, but they did not always have free time, plus the deadlines were pressed. I can’t say that it was only me and, relatively speaking, one and a half people involved in Fargus who worked on the “simple” releases. Most often I was taken to the role if it was very big. It is clear that if an actor has to pay a hell of a lot for such a record, then his person – and I worked there for a salary – can unfasten some penny for such an activity. At the same time, one must understand that if I had done poorly, then this story would not have happened. But I did it, so I took it. Basically, the games were voiced by professional actors, plus me and some of my friends who were somehow related to theaters.

SG: How difficult was it to work at that time? Did the actors have any script scripts, scene descriptions? Well, or at least dialogues collected in meaning, and not phrases written randomly on an A4 sheet?

PG: You know, at that time it was probably even better to work, because the materials for the actors were prepared not by incomprehensible comrades from the West, who collect lock kits anyhow, as they are now, but by professionals who understood what the game consists of, and always tried, for example, to give dialogues by dialogues: you see a phrase and you know what will happen next.

Now, when voicing computer games, oh-oh-very often you just read your line and don’t know what they are answering or saying in front of it. And besides, ten times more people are working on localization, Western partners are helping, but it’s still worse. Descriptions of the scenes in the 90s, of course, were not always on hand, but we were provided with a file with stories about the characters. Testers, just starting to study the product, already knew who spoke with what voice and what this character did in the game. “Well, or at least collected in meaning” – this is now, but then everything was prepared much better.

SG: It’s no secret that Fargus is, let’s say, not quite legal “daughter” of Akella. Meanwhile, fans still remember the translation of the same Full Throttle with love. Have you personally taken part in the dubbing of any of the “legendary” Fargus games? If so, which one?

PG: If you remember, Full Throttle was released under the Akella brand, so this release has nothing to do with Fargus games. It was written on the disc that it was “Akella”. In addition to Full Throttle, what else can be called legendary? Blade Runner was also made in Ostankino, but that was before me. I took part in Diablo II, in which I voiced all the inter-mission cutscenes. Legendary games… And which ones? Now, if you named specific titles, I would answer: yes, I am in this one, this one and this one.

You see, projects like Full Throttle or Blade Runner, when they came out, were spending a lot more money on translating and voicing. Why? At that time, the cost of a CD on the market was equivalent to, say, five or ten dollars, while the cost of printing the disc itself was about thirty or forty cents – this is not so important. By the time “mass” games appeared, there were many factories that stamped discs, as a result, the market value of a CD-carrier with a game fell to a dollar or even less.

As a result, each release brought in less money, competition began to appear. A striking contrast with the situation when the same Full Throttle was being made – then, in fact, there was no competition. Accordingly, localizers had the opportunity to spend about twenty to thirty thousand dollars on translation and dubbing of one game. The golden days are just gone. If the discs continued to bring the same amount, it would be possible to make all games legendary.

SG: Well, it’s a new time. Fargus fades into the background, Akella releases its localizations with pomp and becomes a 100% legal publisher. At the beginning of the 2000s, the first part of the Prince of Persia trilogy was released, in which you voiced the main role. How difficult was the localization process and did the approach to the recording itself change? Maybe they began to provide more context?

PG: No more context was provided. Moreover, as I have already said, over time everything just deteriorated. In “Princes”, firstly, the volume itself is small, and secondly, we had ready-made dialogues on our hands that could be read as complete thoughts. The French are generally very gouging comrades – they always delayed sending lockkits, therefore, having the old guard that had remained since the time of Fargus, we simply took some kind of alpha version and, without waiting for lockkits, opened it and translated it.

By the time Ubisoft provided localization materials, all the work was almost finished. Since the same guys from Fargus did all the assembly and disassembly (they also formed the texts), the materials turned out to be very well grouped in meaning.

SG: Today, many people accuse dubbing actors of underacting or, on the contrary, trying too hard – and a frank gag appears in the game. Not even in terms of meaning, but in terms of emotions. What guides you personally when you start working on a role?

PG: Good question. If I have a reference, that is, there is an opportunity to listen to every English phrase spoken by an actor, I will try to do exactly the same as him. I adhere to the same position when dubbing a movie. I believe that the directors and actors of the film have already said everything they wanted, and it is not necessary to invent for them, to grimace where they did not grimace. We should not remake films in our own way, although some dubbing directors suffer from such a disease.

When it comes to computer games, if there is an opportunity to listen to how it was in the original, of course, I will stick to the source code. If there is no reference – do as you wish. In this case, how can you talk about “underplayed or outplayed”, if I see it that way? After all, I myself come up with a role in my head. The character can either cough (fake cough) or stutter-and-hiccup, and I’ll stick with that as I have no idea how it was in the original.

It is not the actors who are to blame, but a combination of factors. Do not forget that not only the actor and the person who presses the buttons are sitting on the recording, but also the director. He makes sure that a person reads correctly, performs directorial tasks. Ultimately, if there is something underplayed or overplayed, this is more a question for the director.

SG: It used to happen that you listen to the result, compare it with the original, and then you understand: oh, did you make a mistake here?

PG: No, it didn’t happen, because either there was a reference – and there I can’t cope, because I know if I managed to show what was in the original, or if there was no backing, then see above. But this is about games. With films, however, albeit very occasionally, this happens, unfortunately. When they are in a hurry. Usually I try to achieve good quality, but sometimes the director says: “Okay, let’s leave it like that,” and I have no right to argue with him. As a result, it’s a shame: it seems that here I could tighten it up, but since I’m not the director…

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