voice over artist

Voice-over and dubbing

Same same, but different

22 / 11 / 2021
Emirah Mohiudeen
Localisation Manager

Global consumption of audio-visual content has grown enormously since the onset of the pandemic, and there has been a steady increase in both production and localisation as more and more content producers attempt to connect with bigger audiences.

Two of the biggest tools in our toolbox are voice-over and dubbing. So what’s the difference between the two?

Voice-over is the production technique where a voice recording by a voice actor is used to convey a message. It’s used in movies, commercials, narrations, documentaries, corporate videos and tutorials, as well as for portraying internal dialogue.

Dubbing on the other hand, is the technique whereby a voice-over is translated from the original and recorded in a different language.

Consider these examples. A client may need an explainer video that features an English narrator. We would source the voice artist and record the voice-over. Simple. The same client may at a later stage want the explainer video localised to a different market and therefore in a different language – let’s say French. This will need a voice dub, meaning the French speaking voice actor will replace the original performance, lip-synced to the visual.

As another example, a client may have an animated movie, which is scripted in English and for which they need English speaking voice actors for the characters. The cast then perform and record these voices in English. These would all be voice-overs and will form part of the original production of the animated movie.

The client may then want the animated movie localised into Afrikaans. This requires what is called a post-original production process, because the movie is being re-versioned. The client may choose to keep the original voice-overs and add Afrikaans subtitles, or they may choose dubbing. With the latter, Afrikaans speaking voice actors who are skilled at voice dubbing would need to recreate the original performances in Afrikaans, ensuring that the recording syncs to the lip movements and physical gestures of the characters on screen.

Dubbing is often used when we localise foreign adverts, films, series, animations and so on. It’s an extremely intricate process. Dubbing artists must be observant and perform with absolute precision to match the lip movements, as well as the intonation and emotion of the on-screen characters. Along with skilled dubbing artists, we also need equally skilled translators, creative directors and sound engineers to produce professionally dubbed material.

Dubbing is definitely the more complex of the two processes, but both dubbing and voice-over are vital to localisation and offer huge opportunities to skilled voice artists.
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