Dubbing or Voice-Overs: What’s the Difference?

June 21, 2022

Video content has never been more popular or more widely consumed. According to HubSpot, 86% of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2021, increasing slightly from 85% in 2020. However, this makes standing out even more challenging.


It’s commonly recognised that personalised content gains better engagement, and localising your videos for the relevant target market is one way of achieving that goal. Using subtitles is one option. However, thanks to Netflix, dubbing is experiencing a revival. Then, there’s the closely related process of voice-overs too.


In this blog, we explore the differences between dubbing and voice-overs and the benefits each of them can offer.

microphone, recording studio


What is dubbing?

Dubbing is great for films or series where the video aims to immerse the audience in its story. Also known as language replacement, it involves replacing the dialogue in the video with a new recording, generally in a different target language.


Dubbing aims to sync to the original speech, mirroring its speed, rhythm, emotion, and tone as closely as possible.


High-quality dubbing should be barely noticeable to the audience. However, historically, it has not had such a good reputation for achieving this goal. Nonetheless, companies such as Netflix are seeking to change these attitudes and have seen their dubbed titles rise in popularity.


What is required for successful dubbing?

Dubbing can be a tricky process. For the dubbing to be believable, an appropriate professional voice artist, whose voice aligns closely with their characters’ attributes, needs to be hired.


The original script also needs to be carefully adapted. The dubbing should be in time with the sentence length and syllables used in the original recording, so it closely matches the on-screen lip movements.


For a professional finish, the dubbing should be added to the video by an experienced digital engineer. Then the video should be fully tested to ensure the best user experience has been created.


The benefits of dubbing

Like other localisation options, such as subtitles, dubbing allows video content to become more accessible to non-native markets.


However, dubbing can provide a much more immersive experience compared to subtitles. For example, when viewers are looking down to read the subtitles, they may miss critical bits of the action. In comparison, when dubbing is done well, it supports better focus and usually creates a more enjoyable experience.

man recording, dubbing

What is a voice-over?

Voice-overs typically have a different purpose than dubbing. Generally, they are used for more informative video content, such as explainer or how-to videos, or for animation. They are normally narrative in style, so do not need to sync to the speakers’ lip movements.


For voice-overs, the audio (often in a new language to the original content) is laid over the existing recording and is noticeable to the audience.


How do you create a successful voice-over?

When creating a voice-over script, the key points from the original content should be clearly conveyed and appropriately localised for the target market. Although voice-overs do not sync with any on-screen dialogue, they should still sound natural, and therefore the script should be written as your target market would talk.


Delivering a good voice-over is much like doing a successful presentation. The voice-over artist must keep the audience engaged by speaking at an appropriate volume and pace, not rushed or overly loud or quiet. They should also employ some interesting inflections to emphasise various points. However, these inflections should seem natural and not exaggerated, which could be abrasive.


Although voice-overs are more straightforward to create, we’d still recommend working with a skilled digital engineer to bring it all together and ensure the video and its voice-over are seamlessly integrated.


The benefits of voice-overs

Voice-overs are another tool that can be used to localise video content and make it more accessible to a wider audience. They don’t offer the same immersive experience as dubbing, as their role is quite different. However, they can provide an effective way of delivering information to new audiences. Voice-overs are also quicker to create than dubbing and also more cost-effective.



Dubbing and voice-overs are both audio tools useful for localising your video content and making it more engaging for non-native markets. However, their purposes and processes are quite different.


Mission Translate offers the full range of video localisation services delivered by experienced native linguists and voice artists, and skilled digital engineers. If you need help deciding which service you require or would like to discuss your specific requirements, please get in touch with our team.


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