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Video 101: Dubbing, Voice-over & Voice-off

We're here to walk you through everything you need to know about these different techniques used, so that you can choose the right option for your visual content. Each technique has its own approach, and each one has its own advantages. Let's dive in.

What are the differences between dubbing, voice-over, and voice-off?

When you're localizing your audiovisual content, you have three options: Voice-off, voice-over, and dubbing.

1. Voice-off

Voice-off is when the voice of someone who is not seen on-screen is used. To give you a concrete example, this is usually the case when you hear commentaries from an off-screen journalist when watching a report or your favorite (think Blue Planet, and other David Attenborough documentaries). Once the script has been translated, the voice actor delivers it, adopting the appropriate diction and pauses.

2. Voice-over

Although its name is similar, voice-over is a distinct technique whereby the original voice in the content is replaced or overlaid with the translated text, without taking the movement of the mouth into account. This means that you can fully and precisely substitute the original version with the translation, or you can even leave the original version in the background, at a reduced volume.

3. Dubbing

Last, but certainly not least, we have dubbing, which replaces the original audio track with one produced in the target language. Now, we know that at this stage, you're probably thinking "This sounds the same as voice-over", but dubbing is actually a ramped-up version. When dubbing, the linguist needs to firstly analyze the movement of the original speaker's lips in order to make sure that their translation not only matches in terms of meaning, but that it also matches up with the lip movements. This is why we say that successful dubbing is imperceptible dubbing, so that the viewer gets the impression that they're hearing the person on-screen speaking their native language.

These three techniques require various production services:

  • Voice actor casting, under the supervision of an artistic director;
  • Synchronous recording;
  • Post-production, which groups together editing, synchronous mixing by the sound engineer, encoding, and audio track cleaning.

Choosing the right choice for your content

There are voice catalogs to guide you through your choice. Depending on the message you want to get across, you can choose a man or woman, as well as their tone, accent or the nuances of their voice. This is a key step, as you'll be choosing a voice that will effectively become your brand's vocal identity.

The selected actor is a professional, who has perfectly mastered their diction, articulation, breathing, and intonation, delivering a natural and high-quality finish.

The phrases are perfectly paced to match up with the original lip movements.

Plus, the final file will be delivered in the requested format.

When to use which method?

Voice-over and voice-off entail lower costs than dubbing and are interesting alternatives to subtitling, which requires the viewer to really concentrate on reading the text on-screen, potentially detracting from the rest of the video. It's a more flexible service with shorter lead times.

As for dubbing, it's essentially the ultimate localization of the original media and, in turn, optimizes costs. A dubbed file is also seen as a marker of credibility in some sectors.

Not 100% sure of what localization is? Don't worry, we've got you covered with a whole article on the subject.

Navigating the subtleties of dubbing, voice-over, and voice-off can seem like a bit of a maze at times, but once you've got your path through it, you'll find the key to successfully localizing your content. Each of these techniques offers its own, unique advantages, and understanding what goes on behind the scenes with production is essential to make sure you're making decisions with all of the information you need.

If you find yourself faced with a dilemma or in need of guidance to make sure that you're making the right choice for your project, don't forget that the Powerling team is just a phone call or email away, and we're here to make sure that the right choice is made for you and your project's specifics.

NEWS : Powerling has recently acquired WCS group.

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