Voice over dubbing is everywhere; it’s the invisible ally of many productions, big and small. And really, where would film, TV shows, animated features, and video games be without it? Today, we’re going to talk in detail about what it is, what it isn’t, and its place in the larger world of voice-overs.
But wait, aren’t voice-overs and voice over dubbing the same thing? Well, yes and no. While they’re very closely related, one is a part of the other, or rather one technique out of many. Don’t worry, though, I’m going to go over them in ample detail and provide examples to help you wrap your head around both concepts.
And it’s no joke that you’ll want this to be second nature by the time you’re done reading this article. Voice over dubbing can help you go from zero to hero if you’re trying to influence a big audience. It can help create and promote engagement, reach out to a much larger possible fanbase, and keep people glued to their screens for longer. Plus, it brings a familiarity and an immediacy that no other technique can match.
Additionally, I can also give you solid info on where to go to get it done right. It’s no secret that dubbing can be unintentionally hilarious if done wrong. But, when real experts have a go at it, the results can be stunning. Lucky for you, we’re real dubbing experts here at Bunny Studio, and we can help.
But, first things first! Let’s try to go with the base concepts first, and take it from there.
This post has been updated in September 2021.
To understand voice over dubbing, we need to understand voice-overs in general first. Thankfully, this is a topic we’ve written about at length on our blog. Thus, there are plenty of good definitions to draw from. Here’s one from “Voice-Over Editing — A Primer“:
Voice-overs are a production technique through which recorded voices are used in media. Think about narration in movies, audio and radio ads, or really, any presentation where recorded voices are used. They’re ubiquitous, so we’re also talking about a very lucrative market, with $4.4 billion a year in profits.
Here’s a partial list of where voice-overs are commonly used:
- Dubbing in movies, animation, and TV shows
- TV (both in fiction and commercials)
- Video Games
- IVR phone answering and interaction systems
- Press events
- The training and e-learning industry
So, yeah, it’s fair to say that you’ve seen, or heard them around. And, the more we immerse ourselves into this digital world, the more voice-overs gain traction. Just think about your favorite YouTuber, and it’s very likely that they’re using some form of voice-over to record their shows. At this point, I think they’re one of those things that we absolutely take for granted. But, as with most of those things, the more you think about them, the more important they become.
And, as you’ve seen in the list above, voice over dubbing is a big chunk of this world. It’s the reason why we know of many foreign productions, for one. And it’s also a big factor in the ever-increasing globalization of consumer media.
Let’s go into it a bit more.
Voice Over Dubbing: The Basics
Say you’re watching Netflix, and try tuning in to one of ’em new hit shows. Chances are, 6/10 times you’re going to bump into a high-quality foreign-language production like Dark. And, since this is 2021, Netflix is probably going to serve up more than one way to experience the show; you can either choose to watch it subtitled, or dubbed. In fact, if you’re in the majority of Netflix’s American users, you most likely didn’t even flinch when you chose the dub over the original audio.
Voice over dubbing, in short, is a language replacement technique. A team of professional voice-over artists record a new audio take in the target language — say, English — that replaces the original one.
What’s the idea? To create a seamless illusion that creates the feeling that the actors or characters are speaking in one’s own language. This is easier said than done, especially in film, because actors have to sync up their speech patterns to the mouth movement of the characters. If done right, the result can be natural and almost imperceptible; when done wrong, though, it can be disastrous.
That’s why voice over dubbing is not just a skill, but an artform that only pro actors can perform. It’s the preferred way for most people in the world to experience foreign-language content, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. While you can firmly throw your hat in the ring for subbing in the endless debate, there’s no getting around dubbing’s popularity. It’s everywhere! Just take a look:
- Video Games
- Streaming Services
And if I had to sum up the reason in two words, they would be immediacy and familiarity.
Immediacy and Familiarity
Why is voice over dubbing so popular? It’s growing at such a rapid rate, that some people have even called it “a global dubbing revolution.” This is in no small part due to Netflix’s rising influence in the dubbosphere (I just made that word up). The streaming giant’s increasing reach has made dubbing into the new diva, even turning some voice-over artists into global superstars.
Let’s just sprinkle in a few statistics from the Hollywood Reporter to put things into better perspective:
The company’s research has shown that dubbed versions of hit shows are more popular than their subtitled equivalents. “People say they prefer the original, but our figures show they watch the dubbed version,” noted Kelly Luegenbiehl, vp international originals for Europe, Turkey and Africa, at a talk in Berlin earlier this year. Netflix’s investment in dubbing has been growing, on average, between 25 percent and 35 percent per year for the past few years, and the consumption of dubbed content on the platform is scaling even faster, up on average more than 120 percent annually, say company sources.
And this is, undoubtedly, due to the influence of both immediacy and familiarity in voice over dubbing. While I personally prefer subbing, it’s also true that it’s a pretty obtrusive way to experience content. Reading letters on a screen can be cumbersome, no matter how fast a reader you are. Tearing your eyes away from the action to read a piece of text can mean losing an important part of what’s going on, subtle details, cues, or even facial expressions. While I love subbing because it preserves the original language and identity, voice over dubbing doesn’t have these problems.
And that’s because it creates a seamless, ongoing flow of action. Thus, you can focus on watching the characters, feeling the emotional tone of scenes, and keeping your eyes glued to everything that happens onscreen. However much you love foreign-language films, this is undeniable. And that what I call “immediacy.”
Then, there’s familiarity or the sense that having characters speak your own language increases the feeling of closeness with the action. While, sure, this can have the unintended effect of making a show set in Sweden feel more like it’s set in Indianapolis, this is not an issue with recent dubs. How? Well, dubbing efforts now try to sound more authentic, accented, and lived-in, rather than trying to employ the same Midwestern accent for everything.
The result? Something that feels slightly foreign, but still understandable enough to make the whole experience warm, comfy, and, most of all, seamless. And this lack of transitioning between reading and watching is what makes voice over dubbing the preferred option for most viewers; it’s an unbroken experience that fits one and all.
And it’s only picking up speed.
Why You Should Care About Voice Over Dubbing
Simple: it’s the best way to engage the largest possible audience. Regardless of opinions, most people seem to like it, and it’s building up in both quality and quantity. And, if you care about your productions seen, it’s a surefire way to build and maintain an audience.
And yes, subbing also has its place in this beautiful enchilada, don’t get me wrong. But there’s no way to get around the fact that dubbing is what’s going to make most people stay on your video content, and keep coming back. Whether you’ve made a film, video game, animated show, or company video, you’ll reach maximum success if you provide both subs and voice over dubbing.
But, a small warning: dubbing isn’t inexpensive. Regardless of whether you hire super-pros or middle-of-the-pack actors, you can expect the final invoice to be way, way higher than just dubbing. But, that’s the way things go, as Rick Sánchez would say; hiring a full cast of voice actors, directing them, and integrating the whole thing with your existing video content doesn’t come cheap. But, it’s the perfect way to signal to your audience that you mean business, and you know exactly what you’re doing.
So, voice over dubbing is the way to go if you want success. And, for sure you want to leave it to experienced pros to tackle your dubbing projects and knock them out of the park every single time. But where, oh where can you find trustworthy pros?
At Bunny Studio, we’ve assembled an all-star roster of 100,000 voice freelancers. And not just any ‘ol roster, but a vetted, experienced one, that has proven time and time again that they’ve got the goods to handle any sort of project, within any price range or possible niche you can think of. If a pro can’t work well, or under time constraints, then they can’t be a part of our team. And we’ve made it super easy for you to listen to samples and find the right pick for each of your scripts.
How? You can find our talent by age, voice type, experience, and price range. That way, you can match the right voice for your characters every single time without any hassle. If you know what you want, you’ll find it at Bunny Studio.
So, ready to get the ball rolling? Hire an amazing dubbing artist today!