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Subtitling and Dubbing: which one to choose for your video project

You don't know what to choose between subtitling and dubbing for your video translation project ? We help you to decide

Jean-Marc
May 28, 2021

When post producing a video, there is a recurring dilemma: subtitling your video vs. dubbing.

Whether it’s for a movie, a series or a simple video creation, these two ways of translating your videos help you deliver to a more international audience. But it is also true that both media have their pros and cons, depending on your video needs and budget.

Subtitling and Dubbing: which one to choose for your video project

So to maximize the engagement of your videos, here’s how to make the right choice.

Subtitling and Dubbing : the differences

Subtitling and dubbing your video are two different processes in nature, each with their own specificities:

  • Subtitles are textual annotations placed on the video, which transcribe the script and dialogue of the video. By allowing viewers to read the audio, they improve the visual impact and increase the accessibility of your content to any audience. More commonly, they allow you to translate your content into foreign languages.
  • Dubbing is the process of replacing the original speech of your video by one of different language, from a different actor or not. If this voice over is good, it helps you localize your content in a more natural way for different countries.

How to choose between Subtitling vs Dubbing ?

When faced with the choice between subtitling and dubbing, there are many factors to consider depending on the scope of your video project, your means and your needs. Here is what you should keep in mind when making your decision:

1# Dubbing is 10 time more expansive than Subtitling

The first factor to consider is the price, which is a decisive factor depending on your budget. As it turns out, dubbing is generally much more expensive than subtitling services, between 10 and 15 times more costly. Obviously, dubbing involves a whole cast of actors who lend their voices, if not the original actors; professional translators to adapt the script; sound engineers to sync the dubbed voice. All these skills and expertise have a cost that must be weighed in the balance.

In comparison, subtitling requires few different skills. Good subtitling simply requires a captioner or translator who can transcribe, translate and synchronize the text sequences with your video. Even better, with the emergence of automatic subtitling solutions, you can immediately get the best subtitles for your video. This explains why many studios have internalized this task into their process.

So the choice between dubbing and subtitling work will ultimately depend on the budget and skills you have.

2# Dubbing needs depend on your target market

The choice between subtitling and dubbing is also based on the audience you want to target. Depending on the market you want to export your content to, viewers don’t watch videos the same way because of cultural expectations.

For example, the European market such as Italy, France, Germany and Spain is largely familiar with dubbing in their language. In general, countries with a strong national tradition, including Asian and South American countries, are more in favor of dubbing, since they naturalize the content more to their language and culture. Dubbing is even seen by this audience as a way to show that they have made the effort to understand and adapt this content.

On the other hand, other more anglicized countries, such as Northern Europe, don’t struggle to understand original content from the American industry and prefer not to use dubbing.

As for the United States and Canada, there is still a great deal of mistrust towards dubbing, which is often considered fake and devalues international creations. In this case, this North American audience will prefer good quality subtitles with the original voice.

So it all depends on where your offshoring strategy is going.

3# Subtitling is a must-have for video engagement

By any means, subtitling has become an essential step in the video creation process.

Social media and video platform algorithms increasingly favor consumption without sound, and therefore the presence of subtitles. More generally, subtitles improve the visual impact of your videos, make it easier to remember your messages and get viewers to engage with you (by taking back your words more easily). They adapt your content to a deaf and hard-of-hearing audience and open your content to all audiences.

For all these reasons, subtitling is almost an essential requirement in your video marketing strategy. But dubbing is also an incredible way to create international engagement.

4# Dubbing impact depends on its quality

Dubbing is a good way to localize your content, adapting to the language and culture of the country you want to reach. In this sense, it increases the performance and engagement of your creations with an international audience, as they sound more understandable and familiar to the audience.

However, as studies show, to be better received, dubbing must be done very well. Dubbing that involves uninspired actors, is poorly translated and poorly lip-synced to the protagonists’ movements can actually do more harm than good to your video.

In France, for example, some Japanese anime like Hokuto no Ken or Angel Beatss got bad press because they had very bad dubbing. They even became a meme on the internet.

5# Subtitling plus Dubbing is the best combo

When it comes to maximizing the performance of *your videos, combining quality subtitling and sensitive, well-executed dubbing provides the best result. That’s why all streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ usually have both subtitles and dubbing in many languages. This way, they are sure to reach the widest audience, and especially an audience unfamiliar with other languages.

If you have an ambitious international content strategy, then we advise you to invest in both a subtitling and dubbing service!

Where to find good dubbing?

Now that you’ve decided to dub, how do you find a good dubbing service? There are many types of dubbing services on the market, especially with the advent of text-to-speech technology. Here are the services you can trust with your video translation projects:

  • Dubbing agencies that offer you the services of their team of translators and sound engineers and their cast of actors.
  • Dubbing studios that take care of all your dubbing projects, as well as voice over and lecturing.
  • Text-to-speech platforms. With voice cloning technology, these platforms automatically generate a more or less natural voice from your script. For example, Respeecher helps you do just that.

How to make good subtitling ?

When it comes to subtitling, it has never been easier to do the job. With speech recognition technologies, there’s no need to painstakingly transcribe your video’s script by hand and define precise time codes.

With our Checksub automatic subtitling solution, you can, for example, subtitle your videos with a few clicks. If the automatic result is not perfect, you can use our ergonomic editor to adjust and adapt the transcription and synchronization. Otherwise, in case you have a large or complex video volume, you can directly contact our professional subtitlers on our platform.

You can test all this here, with a free trial.

With all this, we hope to have helped you export your videos to the most beautiful countries in the world!

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