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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

New Scoop from WoTUp


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Our buddy over at WoT Up recently posted a video in which he reveals some of the actors cast to do the Portuguese language track for the Wheel of Time series. He also talks about the contracts for these actors being 6 to 9 months in length. From that information, he extrapolates a release date late in the year.

 

The video is very interesting, but I think it comes to the wrong conclusion. Rather than being a sign that the release is 6-9 months away, I believe the fact that alternate language actors have been hired is a sign that we are on the cusp of release. Here (in brief) is why:

 

First - it's common for voice projects to be contracted on a monthly basis. Such contracts usually involve a monthly retainer where the actor agrees to be available to work in a given month. The length of the contract may have little (or nothing) to do with the amount of time it takes to do the recording. Indeed, smart actors and agents may favor such arrangements for any number of reasons unrelated to production schedules. This being the case, the contract length is a bit of a red herring.

 

Second - voice actors work fairly quickly. A very slow pace - used for lip sync projects - runs around 500 words/hour. [As opposed to around 3,000 words/hour for a cold read where no video sync is required]. In other words, it would not take an experienced voice actor 9 months to complete a voice track for 8 episodes of a tv show. At most, the actual recording time for a single episode would span a few days.

 

Third - the addition of an alternate language track is - for all intents and purposes - the very last step in the post-production process. In fact, it's more accurately described as the first step in distribution than as a production step. What is required is the stripping of the English language audio so that the alternate dialogue track can be inserted. This makes sense when you think about it - you don't spend money to do alternate tracks of material that isn't in the final product.

 

So what does this tell us? Well, if you're to the point where you are hiring alternative language actors (and comfortable announcing that fact), production is either complete or nearly so. They are certainly not hiring these folks when there is tons of principal photography left to complete. [Now matter how good the alternate language actors are, it's simply not credible to think that they're worried about nailing down contracts with them prior to filming being done or nearly done]

 

In sum, this is a sign that the show is in the very final stages and closing in on release.

 

What do y'all think?

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I tend to agree with the author of the video.  I think the fact that the contracts extend so long indicates that they're anticipating needing them for that long.  And I think that suggests that the speculation that not all the filming and editing of Season One is done yet is accurate. 

 

Normally, all or nearly all of the filming is done for the season before very much post-production begins. And normally, nearly all post-production is complete before localization begins.  Normally, voice-over actors get month-to-month contracts because, as you rightly note, it doesn't take much time to do the work and edit it in.  Normally, all the episodes of a production like this are fully complete before the first episode airs.  But, this is not a normal production, and six to nine months contracts for localization voice actors are not normal contracts for them.  There were enormous delays in filming, to the extent that we still don't know whether it is yet complete.  That means weird and delayed post-production.  It's likely that they have maybe up to six episodes fully ready to go right now.  And that's why they hired these actors now and basically reserved them for the next six to nine months.  Because they can get these guys to work localizing those all-but-done episodes now, and make sure they still have them when the other episodes can get finished.  Then they might even be able to pull off something almost unheard of: a fully localized, world-wide, same-day release.

 

Put it this way.  If they had all the episodes ready to go for release at the end of February, or say March, as you would have it, why would they hire those voice actors for six to nine months?  Why wouldn't they just hire them for the month or two of work it would take, if all the episodes were ready to be localized?

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Because it still takes some time, and by having a bunch of episodes already localized, when the last bits of the first season are finally shot, and the last episodes are finally edited and ready to go for release, they can quickly (as in, less than a week) get those last episodes localized and do a big, fully localized, same-day international release. 

 

If they had all the episodes ready to localize, they wouldn't hire voice actors for six to nine month contracts.  If they were going to have a delayed international release, they'd wait to have all the episodes ready before they contracted the voice actors.  The most reasonable theory is that they have a number of episodes ready to localize, and that there will be more localization work over the next six to nine months, as the final bit of filming and post-production work gets done.

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The contract length is the reddest of red herrings:

  • Does the contract call for 6 months of work? 9 months of work? A number in between? Or a range between 6 and 9 months?
  • When was the contract signed? 
  • When did the contract period begin?
  • Does the "6 to 9 month" time frame contemplate working those months consecutively?
  • Does the "6 to 9 month" time frame relate to job performance or to salary structure or both?
  • How does Amazon budget payment to voiceover actors?
  • Are there tax advantages (or other quality of life benefits) to stretching payment over several months? 

Without these answers (actually, without the ability to read the entire contract), you can divine absolutely no meaning from the length of the contract. And we have none of these answers.

 

Examples:

  • Perhaps the contract calls for 6 to 9 months of work because the producers anticipate between 6 and 9 seasons for the show. Not wanting to risk switching voice actors mid stream and recognizing that there's probably only about a month of actual work for each season, they contract for 9 months of work in advance with an escape clause if the show doesn't pan out.
  • Perhaps a monthly payment fits better in the structure of Amazon's budget. Say, for example, the actor is hired for a flat rate of $90,000. It may fit better within production's cash flow to pay that out at $10,000/month over 9 months.
  • Perhaps the actor is hired for a flat rate of $90,000. Recognizing this to be one of the actor's larger contract, he or she calls to be paid out at $10,000/month over 9 months - thus guaranteeing income over that time frame.

There are literally hundreds of different scenarios that could be at play. But focusing on that number takes away from the actual news - they are hiring actors for alternate language dubbing. That's a process that doesn't start until the episode is completed.

 

Once you start signing people to do that type of work, your product is very close to being ready.

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On the contrary, particularly for voice-over work, the length of the contract is revelatory, and you have to go through some bizarre semantic twisting to make the plain meaning of a six-to-nine month long contract possibly mean anything else.  It pretty clearly means they're signing contracts that will have them available for work and working for the next six to nine months.  They wouldn't be contracting voice actors for a month of work per year for the next 9 years when there's no official word they'll even have a season 2 yet.  A payment agreement doesn't constitute the length of the term for the work contracted.

 

And I'd like you to show me one example of a show that contracts localization voice actors for future seasons, before their first season is even complete.  Nobody puts too much effort into making sure the same localization voice actors are available for future seasons; it's too easy to find similar-enough sounding replacements if the actor who did it last time isn't available in the future.  That's different from making sure the same voice actor is available for the whole of one season.  The gap in time alone makes small differences tolerable that would be less tolerable from one episode to another.

 

Were this a normal production, with a normal filming and post-production schedule, I would agree that the mere hiring of localization voice actors for a normal, month-to-month contract, is evidence of a release that's coming sooner rather than later.  But this is not a normal production, and that is not a normal contract for localization voice-overs.  In any event, I would not expect a release until after those contracts have finished.  Even if this were a normal production, the hiring of localization actors for such a long term would tell me that something really strange was taking place behind the scenes.  And the fact of hiring localization actors, particularly for a smaller market language like Portuguese rather than a larger market French, German or Mandarin, before an English-language release date had even been announced, would signal that they want a minimal delay, possibly none at all, between the English-language release and the international releases in other languages.  Which means we shouldn't expect a release, in any language, until close to the end or soon after the end of the six-to-nine month long contracts for the localization voice actors.

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32 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

On the contrary, particularly for voice-over work, the length of the contract is revelatory, and you have to go through some bizarre semantic twisting to make the plain meaning of a six-to-nine month long contract possibly mean anything else. 

Having not read the contract in question, there is no language to evaluate the "plain meaning" of. I can't engage in "bizarre semantic twisting" of language that I haven't read.

 

35 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

A payment agreement doesn't constitute the length of the term for the work contracted.

A contract's length is determined by how long the parties are obligated to one another. So long as one party has an obligation (i.e. an obligation to pay), the contract is in effect. So yes, the manner in which salary is structured is correctly described as the length of the contract.

 

37 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

And the fact of hiring localization actors, particularly for a smaller market language like Portuguese rather than a larger market French, German or Mandarin, 

We don't know that voice actors haven't been hired in those other languages.

 

39 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

 Which means we shouldn't expect a release, in any language, until close to the end or soon after the end of the six-to-nine month long contracts for the localization voice actors.

This is certainly one possibility. But this analysis relies on knowing the particulars of the contracts, which we don't. Which is my entire point. You haven't read the contract. You don't know what it says or when it was signed. Therefore you can draw zero conclusions about what the time frame means.

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To insist that you have to see the specific language of the contract to know whether a six to nine month long contract means the actors contracted for that term will be working in that term is some epic level semantic dodging.  If it means anything other than what the plain meaning suggests, it would be an even more bizarre contract than merely being much longer than normal.

 

And the point about our knowing about their hiring localization voice actors for a relatively smaller market like Portuguese is that they very likely have, or are in the process of hiring localization actors for the other, bigger language markets as well.  And since they haven't yet announced a release date for a primary, English-language release suggests that they're going to be releasing the localized versions at the same time, or very closely following the English-language release.  If they were ready to do an English-language release now, they wouldn't hire localization actors for such a long term into this year.  The only reasonable explanation for such a long term contract for localization actors is that they're ready to begin localization on some episodes now, and they're going to be getting more episodes ready for localization over the next six to nine months.  Which means that six to nine months from now is when we can expect the first season to be ready.

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24 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

To insist that you have to see the specific language of the contract to know whether a six to nine month long contract means the actors contracted for that term will be working in that term is some epic level semantic dodging.  If it means anything other than what the plain meaning suggests, it would be an even more bizarre contract than merely being much longer than normal.

What you're doing is taking information that was passed second hand --> production person tells WoT Up! vague things about a contract, Wot Up! reports --> and making all kinds of assumptions.

 

One of the very first lessons a lawyer learns about contracts is that you don't know anything about a contract until you read it. You certainly can't refer to the "plain meaning" of a contract clause that you've never read. This is further complicated by the second hand nature of the information: we don't know how the production person is interpreting the contract, his/her relationship to the parties, or the nature of their agenda.

 

The most glaring problem with your analysis is that you don't know when the contract was signed. What if February 2021 is month 8 of 9? 

 

I'm not saying you're wrong. Your conclusions are reasonable. But they are nowhere near the only reasonable conclusions that can be drawn from the limited information presented. 

 

24 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

And since they haven't yet announced a release date for a primary, English-language release suggests that they're going to be releasing the localized versions at the same time, or very closely following the English-language release.  

Almost all of Amazon's shows come with alternate language tracks at initial release. That's why the news is important. It is a signal that the show is in its final pre-release stage. Because there's no reason to hire voice actors for alternate language dubbing if the show still has a ton of principal photography to complete.

Edited by Elder_Haman
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I'm not saying it's the only reasonable conclusion to make from what's been revealed.  I'm saying it's the most reasonable conclusion.  Because any other conclusion depends on circumstances even more bizarre than Covid is making things already.  And contracts aren't completely inscrutable unless you read them and understand legalese.  Contracts are pretty standard things that have pretty standard terms and conditions, and going outside the bounds of those standards is not something anybody, particularly the lawyers involved, like doing because it opens up the doors for legal challenges.  You can't just have a contract do whatever you want, there are laws, regulations and precedents that limit contracts to protect both parties.

 

And I don't disagree that in normal circumstances, hiring localization voice actors is a signal that not only is principle photography complete, but so is nearly all post-production.  But these are not normal circumstances.  And a six to nine month contract for localization voice actors is not a normal contract.  Nobody's arguing that the bulk of principle photography is not complete, or even that post-production on most of the episodes isn't mostly complete.  But there is a reason to believe that not all principle photography is complete, because the WoT team is scheduled to resume shooting in the Czech Republic in April.  We don't have any reason to believe that shooting is for Season 2, particularly when we don't even know if there's going to be a Season 2 yet, and there's no additional shooting beyond that in April that even been hinted at, let alone scheduled, and there's no way they'll be able to shoot all of Season 2 in a month.

 

Literally all the evidence before us suggests a Fall release, and probably a late Fall release.  You have to engage in groundless speculation and sophistry to support the mere possibility of an imminent (as in, within the next three months) release.  It's simply not just as reasonable to believe in an imminent release as it is to believe in a Fall release.  Can you make up reasons to believe in an imminent release?  Sure.  But that doesn't make that belief reasonable.  It makes those reasons made-up.

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59 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

Contracts are pretty standard things that have pretty standard terms and conditions, and going outside the bounds of those standards is not something anybody, particularly the lawyers involved, like doing because it opens up the doors for legal challenges.  You can't just have a contract do whatever you want, there are laws, regulations and precedents that limit contracts to protect both parties.

True. Do you have one of those 'standard industry contracts' for voice actors handy? Have you ever read one of those contracts? If you have actual insight into industry standards, I'm very interested to hear it.

I do happen to know a couple of lawyers who work primarily with entertainment contracts - they are among the most complex to draft and are often cumbersome to negotiate. While I'm sure there are some "boilerplate" agreements it would be a huge mistake to simply assume that a six month contract means you start working in month 1 and stop in month 6. There is a great deal of flexibility in these contracts.

59 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

You have to engage in groundless speculation and sophistry to support the mere possibility of an imminent (as in, within the next three months) release.  It's simply not just as reasonable to believe in an imminent release as it is to believe in a Fall release.  Can you make up reasons to believe in an imminent release?  Sure.  But that doesn't make that belief reasonable.  It makes those reasons made-up.

Noting that we have no details about these contracts isn't "groundless speculation" or "sophistry". There are plenty of reasons (which I've documented in this forum and elsewhere) to believe that a Q2 release is not only viable, but likely. 

 

April: pickup shots, finalize edit.

May: complete post-production.

June: release

 

What's "made up" about that schedule? (note: December to May is 6 months - so if those contracts were signed in December it fits within your 'obvious' schedule for the voice actors). 

Edited by Elder_Haman
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I have no idea who's right, having next to no knowledge of that but @Elder_HamanI agree that not changing voice actors is important, probably moreso for TV. Having listened to the entire WOT on audio numerous times and much of Brandon's work, I couldn't imagine changing out Michael or Kate at ACoS or something and that will be one of my TV show issues, to unhear the audio voices.

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I'm gonna be optimistic and assume they're gonna film season 2 in April. We really don't have confirmation of what they're gonna be filming one way or another. Assuming that much, the extended contracts for these voice actors could just be a result of having them continue their work for season 2. 

 

WoTUp says 6-9 months from "now" and the timeline would fall to July-October 2021. My guess is, the cast is gonna be filming as much of season 2 as they can before the season changes in Prague. They can't be filming in snow when the story dictates a heatwave.

 

From April to around October is about 6 months of principle photography they can get in. A shorter time than the 9 months planned for season 1, but for all we know, they have found ways to reduce production time. GoT generally did their 10 episodes within 6months of filming. Perhaps having separate storylines filming in different locations in season 2 of WoT means multiple sets of crew filming simultaneously, reducing the timeline. Whatever the case, I would expect Amazon to want WoT season 2 out in 2022-early 2023. And if that's the case they'll be trying to speed up season 2 as much as they can. 

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i expect they have to pick up some scenes left from spring outdoors, because the covid pandemics closed everything at the beginning of spring, and they restarted production in late summer/early fall, stopping again in late fall. so, it would make most sense for them to pick up a few scenes that they needed to shoot in april/may to show a spring landscape.

 

and if i recall correctly, they said season 2 is already greenlit. so, if i were them, i would take the chance to also start filming for season 2 while there.

utlimately, we knew already they were missing very little of principal photography, and we knew already they are mostly done. and we expect that they should be ready to launch soon enough, but may choose to delay for marketing strategies.

this news doesn't really add anything solid to that.

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There has been no official word that Season 2 has been green-lit, yet.  News of that, even credible hints of it, would be widely reported and repeated here.  The most we know of a Season 2 is that Rafe and the writing team have been taking advantage of the Covid delays to have all the scripts written and tightened up, ahead of any Season 2 production.

 

While I don't doubt that we'll see a renewal for a Season 2, pretty much regardless of how Season 1 turns out (unless, of course, it's a complete and utter bomb), I also don't doubt that Amazon will allow, and Rafe and the rest of the marketing team would want, news of a Season 2 to break as soon as it is made official.  Early renewals demonstrate confidence in their product only if they let fans know about that renewal early as well.  The only reason to keep an early renewal secret would be to retain the possibility that it might not be renewed after all.

 

My expectation is that they will begin actual filming of Season 2 possibly late this year, but more likely beginning early in 2022, with the anticipation that this will be a much more "normal" production run, so that Season 2 can air about a year after Season 1 will, which I believe will most likely be 4th Quarter 2021.  News of an official Season 2 renewal will precede the beginning of principle photography, but will likely not precede at least the setting of Season 1's release date, or the first trailers.  Even that would count as a very early renewal for a show that didn't start with multiple seasons ordered.  Usually, a first season is fully released, with much of the viewership numbers in, before a Season 2 is even ordered, let alone for production on it to actually begin, certain recent shows like The Boys and The Witcher notwithstanding.

 

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I think @Thrasymachusis correct - news that season 2 was greenlit would be common knowledge by now. All we know is that there was a Season 2 writers room.

 

On the other hand, I've been going back through the archived articles announcing the series and I can't find anything specifying how many seasons were ordered. I think it was only one - and have been operating under that assumption. But I can find nothing to confirm that.

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I don't think we have to worry too much about climate.  Say they release WoT on Black Friday, and drop the first three episodes, followed by one every Friday thereafter. The show would be done on New Year's Eve.  A good showing would probably have the announcement for a Season 2 greenlight as early as the week following Black Friday, but certainly before the last episode airs on New Year's Eve.  A mediocre showing might have that greenlight delayed until mid-January.  With the scripts already done, table-reads and rehearsals can begin immediately, and filming on the sets already built for Season 1 and on location could begin as early as February.  The biggest problem with Season 2 is that insofar as they follow The Great Hunt, that ends up in deep Fall.  If they're going to try for a late 2022 release for Season 2, they won't have a chance to film in the Fall.  

 

However, this year's production has been all over the place due to Covid.  If the production team is very confident in their show, and the focus groups and test audiences react favorably, they may announce a very early greenlight for Season 2 after filming and post-production of Season 1 is largely complete this Summer.  That would allow them to begin filming Season 2 this Fall, where they can shoot the Falme scenes first.

 

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Seems like this aligns with my 8 month post production prediction. There is a good possibility that some episodes are basically complete -minus scoring since the composer just left-but others like what I suspect is an FX heavy Episode 7 might still be months away.

 

One interesting thing Amazon could do would be to split Season 1 into two 4 episode halves if there is a good point to do that. If they do it weekly they could build a lot of word of mouth for the Part 2 of the second season and that might be able to happen in April

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22 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

Seems like this aligns with my 8 month post production prediction. There is a good possibility that some episodes are basically complete -minus scoring since the composer just left-but others like what I suspect is an FX heavy Episode 7 might still be months away.

Just for sake of clarity, the composer (David Buckley) left sometime between August and October. I'd guess they've filled his role by now.

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5 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

Just for sake of clarity, the composer (David Buckley) left sometime between August and October. I'd guess they've filled his role by now.

 

Oh thanks for that. Composer is SOOO important, would love to know more about that and who the replacement is. I am really hoping that they don't go for the anachronistic scoring that has become vogue lately.

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2 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

 

Oh thanks for that. Composer is SOOO important, would love to know more about that and who the replacement is. I am really hoping that they don't go for the anachronistic scoring that has become vogue lately.

I agree 100%. I hate that trend.

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10 hours ago, Thrasymachus said:

I don't think we have to worry too much about climate.  Say they release WoT on Black Friday, and drop the first three episodes, followed by one every Friday thereafter. The show would be done on New Year's Eve.  A good showing would probably have the announcement for a Season 2 greenlight as early as the week following Black Friday, but certainly before the last episode airs on New Year's Eve.  A mediocre showing might have that greenlight delayed until mid-January.  With the scripts already done, table-reads and rehearsals can begin immediately, and filming on the sets already built for Season 1 and on location could begin as early as February.  The biggest problem with Season 2 is that insofar as they follow The Great Hunt, that ends up in deep Fall.  If they're going to try for a late 2022 release for Season 2, they won't have a chance to film in the Fall.  

 

However, this year's production has been all over the place due to Covid.  If the production team is very confident in their show, and the focus groups and test audiences react favorably, they may announce a very early greenlight for Season 2 after filming and post-production of Season 1 is largely complete this Summer.  That would allow them to begin filming Season 2 this Fall, where they can shoot the Falme scenes first.

 

 

The Expanse was doing pre-production for season 6 before the renewal was announced, which was months prior to the first episode of season 5 even airing. It's become commonplace for streaming series to be renewed before premiering. 

 

I highly doubt the show isn't getting a second season, and it's a question of whether they're gonna be filming in the summer or in the fall. I would think April makes more sense, given the safety regarding Covid, but also given the climate needed for their story. There's also no sense in getting a whole expensive production started for a few weeks of pickups and reshoots. 

 

I'm still entirely unconvinced that the WoTSeries folk have the whole story rather than having made assumptions regarding the filming situation. They seem to have realized the crew had wrapped up, they were told the production would restart in April, and they just assumed the filming schedule couldn't have been altered so they announced a second Covid delay. When in reality, filming schedules get shifted around, with many location shoots perhaps axed for more VFX heavy in studio, which is what Carnival Row did due to the risks of Covid.

Edited by Carebear Sedai
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