Dubbing and/or Subtitling for Multimedia Translations

By Stacey
Jan 14, 2016 · 2 min

There are two options as to how the translated text can be expressed in an online video, and this applies to all video content: dubbed, or subtitled.

Dubbing and/or Subtitling for Multimedia Translations | One Hour Translation

Online video content is becoming more and more prevalent and, with its ever-increasing presence, companies seeking to enhance the appearance and presentation of their online videos need to make important decisions regarding how they want their video content to be communicated in other languages.

Basically, they have two options as to how the translated text can be expressed in an online video, and this applies to all video content: dubbed, or subtitled. With subtitling, translated text is placed along the bottom of the screen to coincide with what’s being said on the screen; while dubbing involves removing the original soundtrack and replacing it with a translated soundtrack. There are pros and cons for both of these options –


The Pros for Dubbing:

  • Even when not looking at the screen, the content can be appreciated; such as looking at other parts of the website;
  • For speakers of the target language, the tone of voice can reflect a more natural tone;
  • With dubbing, word choice is less restrictive.

Against Dubbing:

  • The sometimes annoying cognitive dissonance for the viewer: this means they see a mouth moving, however the words don’t match it;
  • Ambient noise and voices that were not recorded on location.


The Pros for Subtitling:

  • The content can be appreciated, even with the sound off;
  • The video can easily be paused to focus on one sentence as it’s displayed on the screen;
  • The original tones and stresses of the speakers’ voices are maintained.

Against Subtitling:

  • Subtitling provides more clutter on the screen, which is particularly annoying for smaller screens like websites;
  • The audience must be literate in order to understand the choice of words and abridged versions of content that are shorter in order for them to fit on the screen;
  • Subtitling means that the audience must watch the screen at all times.

Obviously there are other drawbacks and benefits for both dubbing and subtitling, and these will depend on the viewer. It’s up to the company concerned to make the appropriate choice for their video, prior to sending it for translation. It must be remembered that text intended for subtitles will not be the same as text intended for dubbing.

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