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Old 11-24-2021   #1
drakh
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Default SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

So it looks like SAG has finally updated its dubbing contract. A few years ago they made a new one especially for Netflix, but the general use one has remained unchanged since 2001. It set the voice actors pay at around $60-62 per hour, with a few annual increases built in so it stagnated at $64.25 per hour sometime in the 00s. (There were also some modest increases for productions intended for network TV and theatrical release, and a two hour session minimum payment.)

Looking at the new one, which is available for perusal on SAG's website, it takes effect in January next year and divides productions into two categories:

CATEGORY I: $130.50 per hour

This is for productions shown in movie theatres, on prime time network television (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC), and on paid streaming services with 15+ mil subscribers in North America (so... Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime?)

CATEGORY II: $87.00 per hour

Anything not covered by Category I.

There is also supposed to be 5% increase in these wages every year thereafter.

Now, this would normally not be a huge change, since union dubs are mainly done by Netflix, but it looks like there might be an expectation from VAs that studios will increase their non-union wages to match (from the current $75 per hour.)

Marin Miller in particular is calling for VAs to demand Category I wages, which seems a bit optimistic to me. The $12 bump to Cat II looks more realistic, but I imagine given the competitive nature of the landscape studios won't be thrilled about it. It'll be curious to see how this will play out, if the studios will just concede or the VAs will have to try to organize some sort of boycott.
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Old 12-23-2021   #2
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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It set the voice actors pay at around $60-62 per hour, with a few annual increases built in so it stagnated at $64.25 per hour sometime in the 00s.
Noticed that SAG actually has the old contract with the exact details available. It was set at $60 in April 01 when the contract took effect, raised to $62 in 02, and then finally set at $64.25 in 03 where it remained for nearly two decades.

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Marin Miller in particular is calling for VAs to demand Category I wages, which seems a bit optimistic to me. The $12 bump to Cat II looks more realistic, but I imagine given the competitive nature of the landscape studios won't be thrilled about it. It'll be curious to see how this will play out, if the studios will just concede or the VAs will have to try to organize some sort of boycott.
So snooping around a bit more, I gather the reason why VAs expect non-union pay to be higher than union pay, is that for union work, the producer makes an additional payment to the SAG health and pension plans on behalf of the actor. While I don't believe this was the case during the 00s, it now seems to be accepted that the producer pass along that money directly to the VA instead for non-union work.

One thing I missed during the original post, was the anime company most directly affected by this would be GKIDS, since they do union movie dubs. While the old contract does have a separate movie dub pay rate - $84.75 per hour + limited residuals - it is only for productions that debut in theatres. As far as I can tell, GKIDS often gets around this by first releasing on Blu-ray, so they'd be under the regular pay rate. This changes with the new contract, where any subsequent theatrical release means the cast has to be paid the extra 50% to bring them up to the full category 1 rate.
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Old 12-28-2021   #3
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

Fascinating stuff. The move to a 2-hour maximum session length (unless I'm misinterpreting it) would be a wild change. By all accounts, anime dubbing in LA has relied heavily over the years on major characters being recorded by having the actors come in for marathon sessions. Guess there's always still non-union for that, and maybe things have just shifted so much to a simuldub model that dubbing a volume's worth of material just isn't that common anymore (I'm way too out of the scene to really know). In any case, thanks for compiling this all together. FWIW, here's some other stuff I've drummed up over the years:

Kerrigan Mahan on forming the animation dubbing contract
Steve Kramer on the same
Ditto Doug Stone
...Carl Macek
Various Robotech actors on non-union Intersound pay Pt. 1
Various Robotech actors on non-union Intersound pay Pt. 2

Note that the Disney dubs are actually evidently all listed as motion picture or TV animation agreements. Then Disney subsidiary Miramax's dubs of Princess Mononoke and Tokyo Pig were under the regular degular dubbing agreement of the time, but that matches with The Weinstein Brothers' reputed desire for autonomy and tendency at the time to cry poor to agents despite having rich corporate overlords. Kinda wonder if maybe there's an unwritten rule that the agreement is way too low for a major studio to be using and that it's supposed to be used by lesser players (like, say, an independent producer like Macek) and not someone "too big" for it. Suppose it didn't stop Sony from being able to use it on the Cowboy Bebop movie and Steamboy.

Stuff done prior to the establishment of the animation dubbing contract was presumably just done under TV animation or motion picture contracts. That's evidently the case for Speed Racer, Tranzor Z, Voltron, and one of the Katy Caterpillar movies. Interviews with Townsend Coleman and Wally Burr suggest the contracts for animation were based on TV day-player rates for live -action work--hence the pre-animation strike's 8-hour workdays:





*Also, not animation, but here's Ken Mercx on Saban's union set-up on Power Rangers.
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Old 12-29-2021   #4
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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Fascinating stuff. The move to a 2-hour maximum session length (unless I'm misinterpreting it) would be a wild change.
That's only for sessions with roles that incur "vocal stress". It seems it was previously a recommendation by SAG, but now it's a firm rule set out in the contract. Presumably it would mostly affect action shows with a lot of screaming, but I see high pitched character voices and monster sounds are also mentioned as falling under this.

The contract does have provisions increased overtime pay after 8 hours, so presumably marathon sessions still happen.

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Originally Posted by millicent View Post
Note that the Disney dubs are actually evidently all listed as motion picture or TV animation agreements. Then Disney subsidiary Miramax's dubs of Princess Mononoke and Tokyo Pig were under the regular degular dubbing agreement of the time, but that matches with The Weinstein Brothers' reputed desire for autonomy and tendency at the time to cry poor to agents despite having rich corporate overlords. Kinda wonder if maybe there's an unwritten rule that the agreement is way too low for a major studio to be using and that it's supposed to be used by lesser players (like, say, an independent producer like Macek) and not someone "too big" for it. Suppose it didn't stop Sony from being able to use it on the Cowboy Bebop movie and Steamboy.
I would think they simply used the regular animation contracts because they wanted full access to the wider LA voice actor talent pool for the non-celebrity roles, rather than whoever Jack Fletcher could convince to come in under the dubbing rate.
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Old 01-07-2022   #5
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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It'll be curious to see how this will play out, if the studios will just concede or the VAs will have to try to organize some sort of boycott.
It seems like this is actually happening. More VAs like Ben Diskin and Tara Sands are tweeting about $125/hour with a 2 hour minimum being the new LA/NY non-union rate, and encouraging fellow VAs to stand firm against studios who won't comply. One can only wonder if the latter includes any of the big players...
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Old 01-07-2022   #6
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

I would like to congratulate the Miami VAs on their future success.
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Old 01-08-2022   #7
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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I would like to congratulate the Miami VAs on their future success.
Heh. The Miami talent pool still seems a bit rough to me, and if the major publishers were interested in trying them out, they would have done so already. Taking a look at how things are at the moment in terms of cost of the actors, it would roughly be something like:

Vancouver > Toronto/Montreal > LA/NY > Blue Water > Texas > Miami

This list comes with some caveats though. I don't have any firm numbers for Texas and Miami, so that's just based of online chatter from VAs. Apparently Funimation was closing in on LA (hence a lot of LA VAs appearing in Funi dubs), but this leaves them behind again. Blue Water was likely slightly ahead of the old LA non-union rates, but now they're certainly behind.

There are also some differences in pay structure. The SAG Netflix/Theatrical rate looks like it has the highest minimum in the business. Whereas Blue Water and Toronto only have 1 hour minimums, so shows with lots of minor roles would have a cost advantage there. (Toronto even has a special rate for live action dubs, with an even lower minimum.)

Given this, expanding capacity in Texas probably makes more sense long term for Sony. I'd bet Ocean's trying to tempt Funi/Crunchy to give some Overdress-style dubs a shot though, with 1-2 familiar Texas/LA leads headlining a Blue Water cast.
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Old 03-11-2022   #8
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

Based on this tweet by Michael Schwalbe, it sounds like the campaign to increase the non-union wage in LA didn't quite pan out and they're still working for the old rate. Which I guess is why a bunch of VAs switched to calling for the new combined Crunchyroll/Funimation to unionize their dubbing instead.
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Old 03-11-2022   #9
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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Based on this tweet by Michael Schwalbe, it sounds like the campaign to increase the non-union wage in LA didn't quite pan out and they're still working for the old rate. Which I guess is why a bunch of VAs switched to calling for the new combined Crunchyroll/Funimation to unionize their dubbing instead.
Thanks a lot for continuing to research this so comprehensively. I gotta say, the comment there about remote dubbing making things worse doesn't totally surprise me. Having the pool widened that much, basically making anyone on Earth who can meet whatever specs (a noise floor maybe like ACX/Audible) there are eligible. I understand a lot of the FUNi actors were able to use their closets for simuldubs, and the general acceptable level of audio quality in dubs might have just shifted downward due to the pandemic (I believe the re-recording mixer for My Hero said they mix each episode in a half hour--recorded on the simuldub kit mic--compare that to the old interview with Les Claypool on how Mag 8 did things; amazing how the world has changed...*) and be able to accommodate a lot of set-ups, but I also wonder how many folks have Whisperrooms or Studiobricks to pay off.

Ironically, FUNi's decades-long reliance on Whisperrooms to handle the majority of their dubbing (I understand they had like 6 Whisperrooms and 1 proper studio [presumably for optics more than anything should they need to record a celebrity or something] for a while) wound up benefitting them in the end. I understand both Whisperroom and Studiobricks were very busy (and probably still are) over the last few years. I'm rather curious how many of those were for VAs and exactly how VAs are handling noise remotely. As much as it makes for a good story (and they maybe only ever intended it as more of a joke) I can't imagine Eric Bauza's t-shirt laden closet made for the perfect soundproof booth so much as the Warner's post team could justify heavy dialogue editorial and/or the closet just so happened to be well acoustically and/or soundproof on its own (that's basically how it works; you either do a lot of work making something or just get lucky). It's quite difficult to actually achieve, say, ACX's noise floor with something other than a proper booth (or Bricks Or Whisperroom or the like), so I'm really curious as to how stringent the dubbing specs are for VAs.

Edit: Fixed links. Sorry, working off my phone atm.

Last edited by millicent; 03-11-2022 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 03-11-2022   #10
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Default Re: SAG updates its dubbing contract for the first time in two decades

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I'm rather curious how many of those were for VAs and exactly how VAs are handling noise remotely.
Formosa Group actually put together a portable recording setup, the Formosa Acoustics Fort, they sent around during the pandemic. They have a whole video on their site detailing the assembly:

https://formosagroup.com/remote-adr/
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