Photo taken by Ashwin Gokhale
Photo taken by Ashwin Gokhale

For many of us, the pandemic exposed the need for flexibility in a home/work environment. Unquestionably, working remotely at a high skill level became increasingly valuable. Juliana Henao Mesa will attest to the validity of this but that it’s not just as simple as being very talented. Working with the NYC/LA based recording studio NYAV, Juliana was able to perform her role as a dubbing engineer, editor, and mix reviewer to assist in creating a number of exciting new series for online services like Funimation. The internet is not always an easy ally and conducive to a quick work day. This is not an uncommon global experience and Juliana’s work is solidifying that those in the entertainment industry are solidifying pathways that will pave future methods, all while creating the same exceptional programs they’ve always made.   

Animation continues to increase in popularity both domestically and globally. The utilization of professionals from all over the world has been a major asset to NYAV. Their work on a number of Academy Award Nominated Animated Films such as Miria (Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature), My Life as a Zucchini (Academy Award Nominee and Golden Globe Nominee for Best Animated Feature), A Cat in Paris (Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature), Ernest & Celestine (Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature), and others has established this American Company’s preeminence in the realm of animated films. Even a casual fan of Anime can attest to the characteristic dialogue stylings and sonic personality of this Japanese style of animation. A number of productions which feature Juliana’s work can be found on Funimation, considered to be the number one platform by Anime enthusiasts. The range in tone for these is quite vast. One of the highly popular shows she worked on is Droupout Idol Fruit Tart, a series about four girls who live in a dormitory for idol group dropouts. When the demolition of their dorm building threatens their living situation, they band together to form a new idol group in hopes of paying off the debt that has brought about this threat to their domicile. Juliana’s work as dubbing engineer, recording engineer, and editor often involved talent, directors, and herself conducting sessions in different locations and in different languages. She describes, “The process was typically reviewing a line in Japanese, then recording it in English, then syncing it, then playing it, then doing it again and finally picking what the director wanted before moving on to the next. While that might not sound too complicated, it is all done in seconds and your brain has to be 100% present and focused.” Other acclaimed productions which Juliana worked on include the Sci-Fi/Psychological Drama Talentless Nana about supernaturally powered children and the undercover assassin who seeks to betray their trust and the innovative Maesetsu! which depicts four budding stand-up comics who aspire to make the world a happier place through laughter (both also part of the Funimation lineup). 

Working on these programs in early 2021 magnified the typical challenges of her work but brought Ms. Henao Mesa an expedited wisdom of on-the-job abilities. Remote sessions through Skype and Connection Open required patience and innovation. She confirms, “Doing everything remotely brings a bigger barrier because you don’t have as much access to people and help. It’s challenging matching flaps of an anime show made in Japanese but dubbed in English. While you’re troubleshooting any technical problems, you also have to make sure everything lines up well and matches the way the mouth moves. For me personally, the language complications were compounded by the fact that English is not my native language. Understanding the director’s instructions over Skype was most certainly harder than in person but was accomplished with focused concentration. Keeping your head during these stressful moments is an essential skill in the industry.”

One of the lessons which the TV industry learned from the pandemic is that the appeal and consumption of programs for a global audience is higher than ever before in history. Audiences are looking for the specific types of stories they enjoy and they are receptive to these productions coming from other countries. Professionals like Juliana Henao Mesa are similarly in greater demand because they enable this transference of cross cultural entertainment. The age of international storytelling is upon us and those like Juliana are empowering it.

Writer: Luigi Paglia

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