More on TV voice-overs

Michael Badzik mike at
Thu Dec 17 15:22:06 EST 1998

Stephen Sarrazin wrote (in the "ICC Tokyo" thread):

>ps: would like to take this opportunity to also respond to something
>that come up on the list a couple of weeks ago, concerning dramas and
>the use of voice-over.I'm working on a book in part of which I'm
>discussing dramas- and having looked at scripts & productions notes, one
>of the main reasons for voice-over is to diminish production costs and
>accelerate the shoot; much quicker to do a camera set-up with an actor
>sitting here or there, or moving, whatever, without saying lines, and do
>voice-over afterwards.

This is all very true. But there are alternative techniques when looking 
to save money and time, some of which require even less money and 
production time. And so would not the use of this voice-over technique 
- even when economically motivated - therefore constitute an artistic 
decision since there is a choice involved?

I must also admit to hoping that this thread would produce a few 
other ideas proposed and argued on the subject of the "artistic" side of 
voice-overs on television. One of these would be whether the benshi 
tradition in the cinema plays any influence. Or the influence of 
Japanese literature, with its history of writings in the first person 
perspective that may play a role here.  While they may not be as popular 
now, there have been a lot of television dramas done in a diary style 
with voice-over narration.  Or is there a link to the serials printed in 
the newspapers (that are usually mentioned whenever the origins of 
programs such as NHK's Asaren are discussed)? My own knowledge of 
the above subjects is far too slim to make any sort of a convincing 
argument, but the ideas intrigue me.

Michael Badzik
mike at

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