Movie Dubbing: How It Works and Why It Matters

The biggest improvement in the movie industry has been breaking the language barrier: we were no longer limited by foreign languages in films, meaning that we could watch almost anything we wanted to.

This made people appreciate film-making more than ever because each country and culture added something unique to the table.

French, American and Chinese films took the world by storm, and with that, movie dubbing and subbing became a must for a movie to gain an audience.

Dubbing is the process where the original script sound is replaced with words from a different language. It is a common practice in animated movies, for example, as well as in news and documentaries.

On the other hand, subbing is just the transcribed text placed at the bottom of the screen so that people can read what the characters are saying.

Both techniques seem easy to perform, but they’re more complicated than it looks. Let’s find out more about how dubbing is done.

Scripting and timing

To get started with movie dubbing, a translator is needed to translate the original text into the new language.

This is the trickiest task because all languages have different sayings and meanings, so the text must be thoroughly checked before voice actors are involved.

The voice of the actors speaking that foreign language will be recorded and then audio-edited to the original film.

Besides being a translated version, it’s also an adaptation of the original, where tone and emotion are crucial factors.

Each language is different and voice actors must replicate those feelings relevant to their native country, which is not an easy task.

One of the biggest challenges of dubbing is timing. First, a translator needs to be thoughtful about the sentence’s duration and not make it too long because the voice actor needs time to pronounce everything properly.

Plus, the words need to be fitted to the visuals that appear on the screen; work that takes hours to complete.

Casting and recording

The next challenge is finding the perfect person to fit the character and the movie’s vibe.

Voice actors should first mirror the tone and inflection used by the performer from the original film. You might notice these details even in the way voice actors speak in animated movies for children.

The emotion is still there including the excitement, the singing and the sadness.

Next is voice recording. There are two styles: the out-loud reading of the script by actors while they watch the original footage.

This is the standard method, where there will be three beeps with the performers saying their lines at the fourth beep. But to get there, performers go through rigorous training.

For example, a British voice actor will study a variety of acting approaches, like Stanislavski’s system, Strasberg’s method and Meisner’s technique.

Then there’s the alternative recording method, used primarily in France and Canada, where actors read the lines of dialogue at the bottom of the screen while the movie plays.


Getting to the most tedious work, editing, is converging the new dialogue tracks and recording with the original movie sound. It all starts by dismantling the original voices from the main soundtrack and creating a “music and effects track” (M&E).

After the foreign dialogue is recorded, the editors will fit it in the right places of the M&E to blend with the sound.

The audio post-production is done in three distinct steps:

  1. Editing everything from the speech, music and live action. This is when the audio takes are chosen and combined and the music is cut to fit as close as possible without affecting the sound quality.
  2. Mixing music, extra sound effects and balancing natural speech. Editors will use audio equalisers, dynamic compressors and noise reduction features.
  3. Mastering the sound by levelling the video so that everything sounds equally good. Editors must consider the devices people are playing the sound from, and given that they’re mostly smartphones or laptops, they should master the sounds accordingly.

Why movie dubbing matters

Movie dubbing can be easily underestimated by people who watch subbed videos and movies. That’s because if you are used to a type of voice and talking style, it may sound weird to hear other voices perform.

But subbing takes away the essence of the movie. Besides the fact that you need to pay attention to the text and the screen, it may be tiring to follow everything that is happening.

A study by the British Film Council in 2010 concluded that fans of mainstream cinema prefer dubbing, while people interested in foreign languages want to see a subbed film. In the end, it’s a matter of taste, but watching a subbed video might alter your experience, which lowers the movie’s quality.

However, there’s a downside to dubbed movies too. If you want to learn a foreign language, it’s more challenging to do so by watching dubbed movies than subtitled ones.

But dubbing can change the film by improving the sound effects and the dialogue, regardless of the conditions in which the audio was recorded.

Moreover, it can increase the reach of a film project since it can be released internationally, and people can view it in their native language.

Let’s take the example of Japanese animations called anime. The language they’re recorded from the start is quite difficult, but as soon as voice actors started dubbing anime, their popularity rose immediately worldwide, and now everyone knows about Naruto, for example.

Given that the mouth’s movements don’t have to line up with the audio, voice actors are not that limited when it comes to performing.

Wrapping up

Dubbing and subbing movies and video animations are the most remarkable changes in the cinematography industry.

Although they seem easy to do, each process is followed by many challenging steps in order to achieve the perfect audio.

Plus, watching dubbed and subbed movies can help people learn new languages better, as they get to see how voice actors interpret and talk.

Advantages of Dubbing your English-Language Content

If you are looking to share your company video, YouTube advert or documentary with an audience that doesn’t speak English, hiring a professional dubbing service for your audiovisual content might be the solution you’re looking for.

Our translation agency works closely with many experienced figures throughout the dubbing industry who can give your content the boost it deserves.

Dubbing opens the door to potentially millions of viewers

Audiovisual translation is one of our specialities. You will know by now that, at BeTranslated, we set a great deal of store by subtitling English-language content into other languages.

Subtitled video content on social media benefits from a considerably bigger audience than text-free video. The same goes for clips that are dubbed into the language of the target market.

Whether as an alternative to subtitles or in addition to them, dubbing audiovisual content is good publicity for you in your chosen language(s), whether it’s for your corporate video, your product advert or the classes on your YouTube channel.

In reality, using a professional dubbing service for your English-language video can put you in touch with literally millions of potential consumers.

Dubbing into French alone could allow you to reach not just France but Belgium, Switzerland, Senegal, Haiti, and Canada, among a great many others as well.

As you have put a lot of time and effort into producing a professional video, it makes sense to reach as big an audience as possible and more people will be able to understand it if it is accessible in one, or even two, other languages.

Latin America and China, for example, are major international markets – both home to a huge pool of buyers who will want to learn about your product in their own language.

Total professionalism with the best dubbing and voice-over actors

Our international network of linguists has grown and grown over the years to encompass a wide range of profiles, and many voice actors from a variety of backgrounds have swelled our ranks.

Consequently, we collaborate with voice actors offering voice-overs in Spanish, French, German and more besides, and with experience in adverts and TV channels.

Lip-syncing – matching lip movement to speech, as seen in many films and TV series – is one field that our voice actors excel in, giving you an unparalleled viewing experience.

Simple unsynchronised reading, as in a documentary with an off-screen narrator, is another option.

Our voice-over actors work with state-of-the-art recording equipment, therefore ensuring optimal sound quality and perfect delivery whatever the broadcast medium, from TV and Internet to cinema screen and auditorium.

Our translation agency guarantees professional dubbing artists in any language

Are you looking for an appealing French voice to explain the finer points of your company’s goals for 2024 and beyond?

Maybe your product will soon hit shelves in Italy and you know that only a video in the language of Dante has the ability to reach consumers in Rome, Naples and Florence?

Have you just launched your multilingual e-commerce website and want to offer a welcome video in Spanish or Chinese to be able to reach (much) more of the world?

Our translation agency is here to help. We offer the professional voice actors you need, the languages you’re looking for, and unrivalled actors.

BeTranslated has more than 20 years’ experience in professional translation, subtitling and voice-over.

There is nothing worse than the experience of dubbed audiovisual content done by an enthusiastic amateur with just an old microphone and an old version of GarageBand.

To really make an impact on your target market, professionalism is key.

Please do not hesitate to contact our team to get a quote within 48 hours and to find out more about our services.