Many of those not familiar with professional dubbing and voiceover think these terms are just two ways of saying the same thing. And while that’s not strictly true, there is certainly plenty of common ground between the two disciplines.
Both disciplines have technical and artistic elements and are applied to a piece of audio content, so it’s inevitable that both dubbing and voiceover artists are going to share some of the same attributes, such as perfect diction, an absence of elements of dialect (unless required by script) and speech impediments and an ability to interpret a script well. Both professionals are required to immerse themselves in their part to convey the message as effectively as possible.
Despite this, though, dubbing and voiceover are procedures employed for very different reasons. Let’s take a look at why that is.
What is professional dubbing used for?
Before explaining what professional dubbing is used for, let’s first explore what the term itself means.
Professional dubbing is the procedure of replacing the original soundtrack (which doesn’t just refer to music, but speech too) with another, translated soundtrack, to make it accessible in other countries. As many people know, dubbing is widely used in film and television. Dubbing is popular in Italy, where it is often applied to content such as films, TV series, cartoons and video games.
But what’s its purpose?
As we mentioned earlier, the main reason for dubbing is linked to language.
Dubbing allows people to watch a foreign film or television programme without having to know the language it was produced in. The original language is replaced with a translation produced specifically for that product, with the new soundtrack perfectly synchronised with the movement of the lips of the actors, so that speech looks as fluid and natural as possible.
It’s a technique that can also be applied to content that has been produced in the language spoken in the target market. There are occasions where a director may wish to adjust the audio to correct an overly strong accent or improve the pronunciation of a non-professional actor. Alternatively, they might simply want to change what an actor says – after shooting has been completed. There are always times when actors don’t stick meticulously to a script, so dubbing enables a director to tweak scenes and make the dialogue match the intended script.
Finally, dubbing is also used to give a voice to those who do not have one, such as cartoon characters, inanimate objects, children or animals – characters that the director wants to speak but that need some help to be able to do so.
In all of these cases, the overall objective is the same: to provide the viewer with an audio-visual product that immerses them into the story and enables them to relate to the characters, ensuring that they truly feel the emotions evoked by what they are seeing on the screen. The only way to guarantee success in this pursuit is by using a good-quality, professional dubbing service.
What is voiceover used for?
Unlike dubbing, voiceover is a technique that involves recording a translation of the speech in an audio-visual product before adding this into the edit.
Voiceover is used to accompany footage, so the lip synchronisation involved in dubbing is not a factor here.
When voiceover is used to incorporate a translated soundtrack over the top of speech in the original language, the original is still left in the background, but at a sufficiently low volume to ensure that no disturbance is caused.
Communications, marketing and documentaries are some of the areas where voiceover is most widely used, which in itself is a great demonstration of the difference between voiceover and dubbing.
Voiceover is used for informative purposes, with the aim of capturing the attention of the viewer and the overall goal of conveying information and knowledge or promoting a certain product or service or a company brand.
The voiceover accompanies the footage as a sort of audio caption and needs to be persuasive and convincing enough to hold the attention of the viewers and keep them engaged long enough for them to be won over by the product or service.
Similarly to dubbing, voiceover also aims to evoke emotion within the viewer.
It’s well-known that emotional engagement is often the difference between success and failure in the world of advertising. The emotion evoked by an advert is the reason a potential customer goes on to buy a product – which is why the ability and delivery of the voiceover artist is so important.
So, now you know. Dubbing and voiceover are definitely not synonyms, though one thing is true for both: to get a high-quality result, working with professionals is a must.
Way2Global offers a range of services linked to the translation and localisation of videos for the marketing and advertising sectors, including dubbing and voiceover.
Thanks to the coordination of our project managers and our team of native-speaker dubbing and voiceover artists, we can deliver a first-rate service tailored to fit the exact requirements of each client.
Need a dubbing service? Get in touch!