Video Production Tips

What is dubbing in a film?

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The magic of audio dubbing lets us watch and enjoy shows that were originally produced in other languages. Audio dubbing is very common for international movies and TV show releases and even advertisements. Audio dubbing is also a great option for those who would rather not read subtitles the entire movie or show. 

So what are the ins and outs of audio dubbing? Let’s explore what dubbing is, the post-production process, and how it differs from a voice-over. 

Happy young women with scripts in a film dubbing session

What is dubbing?

Audio dubbing is when the original dialogue audio of a film or TV show is swapped with one of a different language. An editor also might dub the audio when the original audio from filming isn't usable. In both instances, the new audio must be mixed with the other audio tracks so that it doesn't take away from the film.

Why is it important to understand audio dubbing?

Audio dubbing increases the reach of your work. if you want to release your film internationally and have more people view your film, you will need to dub the film into different languages. 

Sometimes your original audio isn't salvageable. This could be due to mic issues or distracting background audio. In this case, you can re-record your dialogue and mix it in while video editing without anyone noticing. 

Lastly, you don't want your audio dubbing to be jarring and distract from your film. You want the audio dubbed track to seem as natural as possible. The only way to ensure this is through learning how to properly dub your film. 

When to use dubbing

Here are the two main reasons you would use audio dubbing:

When you want to release the film in another language

If you are producing a film or TV show in English but would like to release it to non-English speaking countries, you need to think about dubbing your film

The alternative is to have subtitles in other languages, but not everyone likes to read while they're watching a movie. Dubbing the film makes it more accessible to a wider range of viewers.

When the original audio is not usable

While editing, you might notice the original dialogue audio is unintelligible. This is where audio dubbing comes in handy.

Audio dubbing can save a scene if used correctly. Have the actor rerecord the audio with the same timing and emotion so that you can mix it into the audio track.

How to dub your audio in post-production

Audio dubbing requires some planning, especially if you are translating from another language. Here are the steps you need to follow to dub your film or TV show.

Creating the script

The first step is to rewrite the script. You can't just put your original script through Google Translate and hope for the best. Most likely, you will need to hire a translator. 

A translator will also help create a more conversational script rather than an awkward direct translation. 

Casting voice actors (if different than original)

The next step would be to cast voice actors who are fluent in the language you are dubbing. The voice actors should either sound similar to the original actors on screen or at least sound like they could be the person on screen.

For example, if the original actor has a deep voice and looks like he should have a deep voice, don't cast an actor with a high-pitched voice. It won't look natural.

Editing

Editing is a crucial step in the audio-dubbing process. In post-production, the new audio track is integrated into the existing audio. This includes any background noise and sound effects. 

With the new dubbed audio, you might have to adjust the timing of the scenes. This could mean slowing down or speeding up a scene so that the new audio matches. 

The difference between dubbing and voice over

You may be asking, "what's the difference between audio dubbing and a voice-over?" Though both audio-dubbed dialogue and voiceovers are recorded separately from the original footage, they serve different purposes. 

What is a voice-over?

A voice-over is an audio dialogue recorded apart from the image on the screen. A voice-over typically describes what is happening on screen or narrates some sort of story. This is different from an audio-dubbed track because an audio-dubbed track directly correlates with dialogue from on-screen actors. The person narrating the voice-over doesn't have to be seen on-screen at all. 

Here are a few examples of common voice-over narration from popular movies. In these examples, the voice-over is usually the main character telling a story from their youth or the internal monologue of one of the characters. 

Text-to-speech voice overs are also becoming popular as you can choose from a range of voices– masculine or feminine, formal or emotive–right from your computer and usually for free.  

Examples of audio dubbing

With the growing popularity of streaming services like Netflix, we have access to shows from other countries. And through the magic of dubbing, we can watch and enjoy shows that were originally produced in other languages. 

A great example of audio dubbing is the Netflix hit, Money Heist. Money Heist was originally produced in Spanish, but through audio-dubbing and subtitles, people all over the world have been able to enjoy the show. 

In this example, you can see that the new English dialogue was carefully mixed with the sound effects and background noises. You can only really tell that it was dubbed if you look very closely. 

Audio dubbing in film

It is important to know what audio-dubbing is when creating and releasing your work. A few key points to remember:

  • Audio dubbing is used when the original audio is not usable or you want to release your film in another language

  • It's different from a voice over

  • A lot of planning, including writing and translating a script, goes into audio dubbing

Want to learn more film editing lingo? Check our Clipchamp glossary of video editing terms! 

Ready to test this technique out for yourself? Try out our online video editor.

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