Italy's Molok Studios on how it became a go-to anime localisation company

Molok Studios is a multilingual game, film and digital localisation and post-production company based in Milan. CEO Andrea De Cunto and Samuele Daccò, chief audio engineer, reveal how the company has carved out a niche for itself in anime and beyond and why, as the first Dolby Atmos gaming studio in Italy, they chose Genelec monitors to elevate their immersive work.

Tell us about Molok and its services…

AD: Molok Studios provides full multilingual localisation services for video game animation, movies and digital products. Localisation means translation, dialogue, adaptation, voiceover, sound editing, post production, sound and video post production. We do this for video games, anime and any kind of digital product. We're based in Milan, Italy, and we just opened a new HQ that is pretty cool. We work with AAA products, broadcasting and all kinds of projects.

When was the company founded and what were its aims?

AD: The company was founded in 2018. From a translation point of view, we wanted to bring access to a wider audience – especially non English and Japanese speaking people. We started immediately with a multilingual translation, and then we moved to the audio. And actually, this is the coolest part because we really wanted to recreate the immersive level of the original products and make them available to the audience. 

In my opinion, another mission of ours is bringing super high quality services from a team of passionate people – we all like audio, languages, anime and gaming. We're super passionate about what we do. We’re a little boutique studio that goes against big companies and big corporations – this is more or less our place in the world.

We’re a little boutique studio that goes against big companies and big corporations.

Is the company founded and run by film and gaming fans?

AD: Yeah, totally! I'm the founder – I'm a gamer. I'm a fan of all the projects that we do and I'm surrounded by excellent, passionate people with the same interests. Everyone is really passionate because the thing we do as a job is what we like to listen to and enjoy,

When you bring your ideas to a new country, poor localisation will always damage your reputation; tell us about this and how Molok can help?

AD: If localisation isn't well done, you will notice it immediately. Our job is good when no one notices it, meaning if no one thinks something like, ‘Oh, this is translated,’ or, This audio is not corresponding to what I'm looking at,’. We try to provide the audience with a similar immersive experience level to the original products.

If localisation isn't well done, you will notice it immediately.

What was the company’s first big break in terms of a project?

AD: There is a game that was released in 2020 called The Last Recruit. It was 180,000 words and it was in 15 languages, so it was kind of a big project for us. Back then, we were used to working on really little projects of around 10,000 words, and then we moved to 180,000. It was really huge. 

The other one is It Takes Two – that was awarded game of the year in 2021, and a lot of other prizes. It started as a little indie game we did in Italian and German, and then it became a huge success.

Your audio engineers also take care of text editing, removal and reduction of background noise, musical and sound effects, balance and perfect sync; why are these crucial steps in the post production process?

SD: This is crucial because we are the ‘first audience’, so if a sound annoys me, maybe it will annoy other people - so we remove unwanted noise or we balance dialogue, or remove the little defects in the voice like pops or clicks. We take care of every aspect, every time.

It Takes Two started as a little indie game we did in Italian and German, and then it became a huge success.

You have a lot of anime projects as part of your portfolio; how have you come to work on so many?

AD: We started with a series called Akudama Drive – it's some super criminal stuff in the Tokyo of the future. The clients put a lot of trust in us by giving us this project: we did the translation, the adaptation, the voiceover, the mix – everything. They were pretty happy. And from that one, we moved to another, and then at a certain point we found ourselves doing four anime series, one movie for the cinema, two video games – everything altogether.

Molok will be the first Dolby Atmos Gaming Studio in Italy; how does that feel to be the first and to know you meet Dolby’s high requirements?

AD: We built the new HQ thinking about Dolby Atmos for gaming, as we knew that was going to be released and made available on the PS5 console. So we just thought, ‘No one is doing it, let's make it!’ We have two big control rooms and one has certification for Dolby Atmos for gaming and also home entertainment music. We're the first one, and one of the few in Europe. It's cool! It's really a new world for us, moving from 5.1 to 7.1.4.

Genelec was our first choice when we were designing the room.

Have you noticed a strong uptake in Dolby Atmos gaming projects recently?

SD: Yeah, since PS5 upgraded the chip to Dolby Atmos – a lot of games needed a Dolby Atmos mix. Dolby Atmos is really powerful.

AD: It's starting to become a new standard for games, and for the soundbar. We're at the right place at the right moment; the timing was good! It’s super exciting and a totally new dimension.

How does Dolby Atmos affect the team’s approach to gaming work?

SD: When we design a sound, we think about the context of the scene and we do not abuse this [immersive] power. We don't design sounds for our amusement, but take care about the context itself.

Why did you choose Genelec monitors for your immersive studio and how do the monitors give you confidence in your Dolby Atmos work in terms of the accuracy of the mix?

SD: We’re using the 8351 for LCR, 8344s for surround speakers, and a 7380 as the subwoofer, and the translation works well in our room. I trust the speaker and the combo within the room and I'm sure that any sound that I listen to in our room will translate well to another system. Genelec was our first choice when we were designing the room due to the gaming and all the kinds of products we handle.