You’ve probably seen the Simpsons in your time, haven’t you? But, you’d be surprised to learn that in Latin America, few people know who Nancy Cartwright and Dan Castellaneta are. And that’s in no small part due to the ubiquitousness of Spanish dubbing. If you want to learn all about this market (that extends to Spain too), and where to hire the best pros, or how to get in on the action yourself if you’re a budding voice artist, read on!
Spanish Dubbing – What’s All the Hubbub About?
In Spain and Latin America, people just love to hear movies, TV shows, anime, and cartoons in their own language. Chalk it up to the age of multitasking, or maybe it’s plain old familiarity. And yes, you’ll always hear me singing the praises of subbing and cultural authenticity. That doesn’t mean I’m not as big a fan of the Latin American Simspons dub as anyone. While I love the OG English cast, there’s something about the inimitable Humberto Vélez (Homer).
But, there’s more to Spanish dubbing than just familiarity or being able to watch a show while scrolling on the ‘Gram. It’s also about how great actors and actresses give their all to create something that’s authentic and rings true. That’s why today, we’ll learn about:
- Dubbing, and why it’s so important
- Different Types of Spanish dubbing
- Cultural influence
- Where to find excellent Spanish dubbing pros, as well as how to become one very few steps.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, read on!
What Is Dubbing?
While this article is about Spanish dubbing, what I wrote in our article about English dubbing applies to the art of dubbing in general.
Dubbing is the process of replacing the original vocal track in a movie, video game, or piece of media, and replacing it with another in a different language. Thus, you get a seamless result where it looks like the characters are speaking in the language of the target culture
And that’s not all there is to dubs; they are a part of the larger profession of voice-overs. But, while voice-overs cover anything related to recording voices for any purpose (art, entertainment, education, business, etc.), dubbing is more specific: it’s voice acting applied to language replacement. In a sense, they are there to provide a believable-enough illusion that endeavors to make people from different cultures feel closer to the narrative.
And that’s not all they do. There’s huge variability in people’s reading speed, and not everyone can follow subtitles easily. That, in turn, can sometimes make it very hard to follow on-screen actions, and people can end up missing a big chunk of a movie or narrative. In a sense that’s paradoxical for us purists, dubbing can help create more engagement and immersion rather than lessen it.
But, that’s only if the dubs are good and worth your time. How can you tell you’ve got a decent dub on your hands?
Here are the telltale signs:
- Good, natural acting that doesn’t feel forced or stilted.
- Respect for the original tone and content, including the nature of voices and their respective qualities. Maintaining the original emotion.
- A great dub is properly localized, the product of a good translation.
- It’s well integrated with mouth movements and physical actions. If not, it could look like one of those hilariously bad chop-socky 70s subtitles.
Different Types of Spanish Dubbing
It’s probably no surprise to you that there are enormous cultural and tonal differences between different dialects of Spanish. What sounds great in one dialect is nearly impossible to understand in another. But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, right? It’ll actually surprise you to learn that, in Latin American Spanish, the way to get around this issue is by creating dubs with something called “Neutral Latin American Spanish”.
What is it? It’s a Pan-Hispanic pseudo-language that endeavors to use common terms and a soft pronunciation to engage as many cross-cultural viewers as possible. While this is far from ideal, it’s been widely accepted. How do they do it?
- By utilizing a soft-enough accent that it can be interpreted as being “from anywhere.”
- Avoiding regionalisms, colloquialisms, and idioms.
The main countries that produce this type of content are Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico. Here’s an example of the Latin American dub of the show Dark:
But That’s Not All!
There are over 400 million Spanish speakers in the world right now. And, Castillian (Spanish from Spain) could not be farther from Latin American Spanish. But, don’t take my word for it, let’s use an analogy.
Castillian Spanish and Latin American Spanish would be like a deep Scottish Brogue vs. the whole variety of US English accents. And, that probably still wouldn’t touch the surface, but it helps us get the message across; Castillian is way, way different, and you should never use a Neutral Spanish dub when it comes to Spain. Them Spaniards are veritable dubbing maniacs, and they won’t stand for anything but their own down-home accent.
But wait, isn’t Spain a diverse country in its own right, with its own range of regional accents? Clearly, the answer is yes, but they also utilize their own version of “Neutral Castillian,” or Madrid Accent to dub movies. If they have to dub characters from other countries, social classes, or backgrounds, they usually utilize accents from other regions that can serve as stand-ins, and that the audience can easily understand.
Just check out this compilation of Dark dubs. You can find both the Latin American and Spanish dubs for reference and, as expected, they sound absolutely nothing alike.
And, honestly, yes, Castillian dubs have always had some notoriety and infamy attached to them. Mistranslations, so-so acting, liberties with dialogue; all of these and more plague the world of Castilian Spanish dubbing. It’s so prevalent that it’s pretty much a meme, so it’s not an undeserved stigma.
Is it Just Castillian Spanish Dubbing?
Truthfully, quality, in general, is still a factor amongst all types of Spanish dubbing, really. While most of it’s acceptable, there’s still a long way to go, and Spanish audiences are sadly accustomed to “meh” dubs. Thankfully, Netflix and other streaming platforms are imposing higher quality standards that are switching things around. That, coupled with the advent of more natural, better-performed dubs, is making things far more tolerable for dyed-in-the-wool subbing purists like this writer.
Cultural Influence of Dubs
So, considering that most people in the Americas and Spain still prefer dubs, what’s the cultural status of dubbing artists? While actors and actresses don’t quite reach superstar status, they are more well-known than their English counterparts, in general. There’s also a pretty big crossover between animation (anime and cartoons) and film dubbing artists, so there’s quite a bit of “I’ve heard that voice before!” recognition going on.
Here are some truly famous Latin American dubbing stars according to 35mm.es:
- Humberto Vélez
- Carlos Segundo
- Cristina Hernández
- José Antonio Macias
- Patricia Acevedo
These people can get veritably swarmed during conventions. And poor Humberto ‘Homer’ Vélez can barely walk down the street without someone asking him to record their voicemail greeting doing Homer’s voice.
And hey, Spain has got some unforgettable Spanish dubbing actors going on as well. If you were to ask any red-blooded Spaniard about any of these names, they’d probably offer a hearty laugh of brotherly approval:
- Pepe Mediavilla
- Constantino Romero
- Nuria Mediavilla
- Luis Posada
- Ramon Langa
- Mercedes Montalá
- Nuria Trifol
- Salvador Vidal
- Rosa Guiñón
It’s safe to say that when you’ve gone your whole life listening to certain voices, they become as part of your lived-in experience as the flesh-and-blood actors on the screen.
Where to Find Amazing Spanish Dubbing Pros
These days, everyone and their grandma is on a freelancing platform. While it can sometimes be overwhelming to tell who is actually good, this means two things:
- If you’re hiring, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
- Or, if you’re thinking about getting in on the action, there are now more opportunities than ever before.
For both types of readers, the options are much the same: find a specialized dubbing studio or a freelancing platform that offers mid to top-shelf talent. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; freelancing platforms can make the hiring process long and tedious, and you won’t get the best turnaround times possible unless the pro is really focused. Conversely, if you’re a pro, it gets tiresome to have to ply your trade endlessly and have to convince clients that you’re the bee’s knees.
While you can find plenty of excellent talent in platforms like Upwork or PeoplePerHour, there’s an uncomfortable amount of interviewing, talking, and just plain bureaucracy in the middle. I just want to hire my pro/get to work, not create a “business relationship” and make promissory notes!
So, what’s the solution if you’re looking to keep things simple and to-the-point?
The solution for your Spanish dubbing needs? Go go to Bunny Studio and choose among one of our many, many incredible Spanish-speaking pros. There’s more than enough to meet any and all dubbing needs, from veritable dubbing veterans to up-and-coming talents who are dying to prove their worth. Moreover, you can find rates that make sense to you, the length of your project, and the pro’s abilities.
And we make it easy for everyone because both pros and clients like hassle-free solutions. Here are the main advantages:
- Our talent is vetted. Meaning, regardless of whether you’re very experienced or not, we’ll test you to make sure you’ve got the goods. Then, you can just upload relevant samples and get to work.
- We have a world-class algorithm that makes searches extremely simple for clients. They listen to samples, check out the pro’s rates, and can make a hire on the spot.
- No comings-and-goings, no “he said, she said”. The client submits their voice direction, and the pro gets to work.
- We review everything through QA. The client doesn’t get the final product until we’ve verified it ourselves. Plus, they get as many revisions as are necessary.
- If, after the revision process, the client doesn’t like it, they get 100% of the money back, and we pay the pro 100% of the job out-of-pocket, as it should be.
- Did I mention turnaround? The fastest in the business, with under 12 hours as the gold standard. Try beating that.
So, ready to up your Spanish dubbing game? Submit a project to hire one of our Voice Bunnies or try out signing up on our platform as a pro, and we’ll do the rest!