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  • Foto del escritorMaría Palomares Tarí


We live in a multimedia world, there is no doubt about that: we can control, engage, and have everything done to our specifications, and we are living our lives within our media. Consequently, the majority of organizations, businesses and companies are using localization methods to grow their audio-visual content, making the demand for these services grow, booming the industry.

Now, when it comes to language transfer in audiovisual media, you have two options; either translate with written text on the screen (subtitles), or re-voice the original soundtrack, which is where the voice-over vs dubbing discussion comes in.


Both dubbing and voice-over are techniques for recording a message for a new audience or market. However, they are very different:


  • audio in the translated language is laid over the existing recording — voiceover actor’s voice is heard loudly, but the original audio can still be heard in the background;

  • there is no need to sync to anyone’s lips;

  • tone and emotion are not carried over because the speaker is being interpreted broadly.

Note! There are usually said to be two different types of voiceovers:

  1. “UN-style voice-over”: when you can usually still hear the original audio track at a lower volume in the background.

  2. “Off-screen narration” or “off-camera voice-over”: often used when the original speaker cannot be seen on screen. For example, in an instructional or promotional video. In this case, the original audio track is often removed in its entirety.


  • the original speaker’s voice is completely replaced with the new recording;

  • great care is taken that lips are synchronized;

  • the words are interpreted closely, and the emotion and tone are carried over from the original speaker.

Note! It usually takes one of two forms:

  1. “Language replacement” or “voice replacement” dubbing: it involves replacing the original audio performance with one in a new language. The new performance will be fully “acted” out, but zero or minimal efforts will be made to match the new audio with the on-screen lip movements of the actors. For this reason, this approach is sometimes called “dialogue replacement” or “fake lip-sync”.

  2. “Lip-syncing” or “lip-sync dubbing”: Lip-sync dubbing involves matching the original on-screen actors’ lip movements with the words of the new audio performance as much as possible. Here, the quality of the translation of the original script is key in creating a good lip-synced audio content. This needs to involve a careful selection of words and phrases that convey the same message as the original dialogue. Simultaneously, those words need to require the same lip movements as the original performance – but in another language.

The type of project you are working on will be the main driving force governing the right audio translation approach to use.

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