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Dubbing and Voice-Over: Understanding the Differences

Dubbing and Voice-Over: Understanding the Differences

When considering the worldwide audiovisual content, the importance of dubbing and voice-over becomes apparent. Dubbing and voice-over play a crucial role for companies, organizations, businesses, and creators who aim to reach a global audience with their content. Combining the power of video with either of these two disciplines opens numerous possibilities. This is where the significance of localization services becomes evident. Not only can you transform your content into an effective tool by utilizing these two techniques, but you also want your message to be understood in a region-specific manner.

In this article, we will delve into the key differences between dubbing and voice-over, the benefits each offers, and the considerations for choosing between them. Dubbing and voice-over are both types of language services that involve multimedia and translation at their core. Their primary purpose is to make audiovisual content understandable and accessible to a broader audience.

Although dubbing and voice-over are sometimes used interchangeably and belong to the same family, they have distinct characteristics and serve different purposes. Technically, voice-over is a type of dubbing, and both are language services that interpret content for a new audience.

What is Dubbing?

Dubbing is the process of providing films, video games, or other visual materials with audio in a language different from the original one, also known as language replacement. In dubbing, which is a post-production process, the recorded original language is replaced with audio in a different language, and it is mixed with the audio of the media to achieve a natural sound as much as possible. This process often requires the expertise of a professional voice actor who aims to mimic just about everything the actor on screen is doing. It includes tonality and lip-syncing, even though it’s in a different language.

In short, dubbing is the replacement of original audio in visual content with the voice of a voice actor. Localization is also included in this process, meaning the content should be adapted to suit the culture and language of the new audience.

Dubbing is commonly used to translate foreign-language films and series into the language of different countries’ viewers. The original dialogues of these productions are translated, and during this translation, the translator carefully chooses words that fit the lip movements, tone, and script.

There are two types of dubbing: animation dubbing and live-action dubbing. Animation dubbing allows voice actors to have more freedom in their performances since animated characters’ faces are not as nuanced as human faces. Live-action dubbing, on the other hand, involves imitating the original actor’s acting while using a different voice. As a result, the voice actor’s performance is more limited and constrained.

What is Voice-over?

Voice-over, which has an informative quality, is performed through recorded voices, and is generally used for explanatory and informative purposes. It is suitable for audiovisual content such as documentaries, interviews, and other scientific or technical videos.

In voice-over, the voice actor’s voice is recorded over the original sound. This means that the original sound is usually heard at a lower volume in the background compared to the voice actor’s voice.

In short, voice-over is the voice recording of a script created for an animation film, video game, or other types of media. A voice actor delivers these texts, and the recorded voices are used to narrate the story of the visual content. The tone of the voice actor is not as critical in voice-over as it is in dubbing. However, having a good speaking voice and clear diction is expected.

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Benefits Of Dubbing and Voice-over

As we have been emphasizing throughout our article, dubbing and voice-over can offer numerous benefits in line with your objectives. In a globalized world where the audience is rapidly increasing, video games are played by people from all languages, and visual content is consumed with great enthusiasm, they provide you with a unique opportunity to reach people speaking different languages with your content. Let’s briefly take a look at the benefits of dubbing and voice-over:

First and foremost, these two audio addition methods eliminate communication barriers. If you want to reach a worldwide audience with your visual and auditory content, dubbing and voice-over are excellent choices. They offer innovative communication solutions for your business or brand by overcoming all language-related obstacles you might encounter.

While dubbing and voice-over are disciplines related to adding sound to visual materials, they also translate and localize your content into a different language. When you decide to have dubbing and voice-over, your content will be carefully analyzed and translated by professional and experienced translators, and it will be localized according to the region where your content will be broadcasted.

Finally, presenting a flawlessly dubbed visual content or an informative and engaging program through voice-over not only attracts new viewers but also keeps them interested in your offered content. Since your content will be localized for people in any region of the world, it will be easier for them to establish an emotional connection, show interest, and consume it. As a result, you will have the opportunity to reach a larger and more diverse audience from different cultures, expanding your target audience.

Differences Between Dubbing and Voice-over

Although they serve similar purposes, there are some technical and impact-related differences between dubbing and voice-over. Let’s briefly take a look at these differences:

Dubbing is a more active process, while voice-over is more relaxed. In dubbing, a voice actor replaces the original voice and needs to fully embody the character in the content. This involves incorporating facial expressions, gestures, emotions, and emotional expressions, leading to a more active process. Dubbing retains all the details of the film or series, and the added voice in dubbing is carefully synchronized with the lip movements of the original sound.

On the other hand, voice-over does not require emphasizing tonal and emotional nuances, fully embodying the character, or maintaining synchronization. Its main purpose is to help the viewer understand the events in the content and receive the intended message.

Another significant difference is that dubbing changes the original voices, whereas voice-over does not. Technically, dubbing is a complete performance. It not only involves the voice but also includes acting and emotions, completely altering the sound in sync with the visuals. Therefore, dubbing is a more suitable choice for TV series, feature films, and other visual performances.

Voice-over, on the other hand, is mostly used for short and informative productions. In voice-over, the original voice remains unchanged, and the delivery to the audience can be done as storytelling, narration, or translation. It is more suitable for content like documentaries, interviews, and news.

Based on the difference mentioned above, dubbing triggers human emotions, whereas voice-over cannot achieve the same effect. Essentially, voice-over is a form of verbal subtitles. The voice-over artist’s sole purpose is to convey the translated information to the audience with clear diction. There is no need for them to replace the character, reflect their emotions, or get into the character’s mindset.

Dubbing, on the other hand, is quite the opposite; it is a performance process. The voice actor must carefully manage aspects like intonation, emotional expression, mouth structure, accent, etc. The goal is not only to deliver the message to the audience in a complete and rich manner but also to make them feel immersed in the content they are watching.

In conclusion, dubbing is an unnoticed method, whereas voice-over is more noticeable. As a language service, dubbing does not intend to leave an impression that the content has been translated; it aims to conceal this fact. The main purpose here is to present foreign-language content as if it were spoken by native speakers of the target language.

Voice-over, on the other hand, by its very nature, is more noticeable. The viewer is fully aware that an unseen foreign voice is speaking in the video. In voice-over, there is no attempt to hide that it is being done. Consequently, voice-over is more faithful to the original content since the original voice is not removed from the production and can be heard faintly in the background.

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Dubbing and Voice-over: Which Should I Use?

The choice between dubbing and voice-over techniques depends primarily on the content you want to present. Although both options aim to make the content accessible to people speaking different languages, as explained above, there are some differences.

Considering this context, dubbing is a more challenging process compared to voice-over, but it yields more impressive and refined results. However, this does not mean that you always have to present your content with dubbing. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, offering different benefits.

Voice-over is a more straightforward translation process. The information in the content is conveyed more directly to the audience using a creative storytelling approach. Creativity, acting, emotions, etc., are not involved in voice-over, allowing the audience to focus more on the conveyed information. On the other hand, dubbing is more effective when emotions and acting come into play. It is a good option when you want to convey emotions, action, and acting in a more impactful way in the content.

At this point, we can decide more easily which content is suitable for voice-over and which content is suitable for dubbing.

Voice-over is a great choice for news bulletins, educational content such as e-learning, and educational videos, as well as documentaries. In films, voice-over can be used for the voices of characters or for an unseen narrator in the content.

Dubbing, on the other hand, is more suitable for TV series, feature films, and content targeted at illiterate viewers or children. When you want to effectively reflect emotions and expressions to the audience in the content, you can opt for dubbing.

For video games, both dubbing and voice-over can be used. The key is to obtain high-quality game localization services and reflect the content accurately and culturally relevant to the players.

Bekir Diri
Bekir Diri

Bekir Diri, founder of Atlas Localization, studied at Trakya University, Department of Translation and Interpretation. He gained industry experience with his MA in Translation Studies in Istanbul 29 Mayis University, with his thesis titled “Turkish Issues in Game, Mobile Application and Web Localization”, while also improving himself in the field. He also lectures about Translation Technologies, Project Management and Localization in Istanbul 29 Mayis University.

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