What To Consider Before Choosing Dubbing or Subtitling

The DubbingKing Software - A Comprehensive Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) Software For Windows

The Dubbing King software caters for various Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) modes. It is used for subtitling, translation and the dubbing processes.

What To Consider Before Choosing Dubbing or Subtitling - DubbingKing

What Should You Choose? Dubbing or Subtitling

Did you know that the audio-visual translation method that you use to market your video depends on the market? Whether you are talking about a corporate marketing video, a webinar, an e-learning video or a documentary, deciding on which format is best and up-selling, is critical for the final success of your video.

Now, If you have a video in English that you wish to translate to foreign languages, which choice should you go for?

Fact check

First of all, let us get some facts straight.

  • For you to succeed in your video production, you need to consider what people in their countries prefer their most convenient way to watch their videos or films. That is to say if they like their media dubbed or subtitled. However, the truth is, both sides have their advantages and disadvantages.
  • For instance, In the United States Of America, local audiences prefer watching foreign TV series, documentaries or foreign movies with subtitles as opposed to being dubbed. On the other hand, they prefer short clips of the news or magazine-style programs, either dubbed or subtitled. In European regions like Holland and Scandinavia, audiences also prefer subtitled movies whereas in Germany people prefer dubbed movies.
  • Let’s look at the key points to consider when deciding between subtitles or dubbing your video for a foreign audience.

First of all, what is subtitling?

Subtitling involves audiences hearing the original language and reading the script through written translations that appear at the bottom of the screen.

The text stays intact on the screen, as the audience hears the original inflections and tone of the actors, interviewees and the narrator. This enables them to experience the original video in a way that is real, at the same time, helping them comprehend what is being said.

Complete article on [what is subtitling…]

Why prefer subtitling?

  • One major advantage of subtitling overdubbing is its lower production cost. No recording engineers, voice talents or a professional studio are required.
  • In addition, the turnaround is quicker and tends to be a standard for online video content in popular video sharing platforms like Vimeo and YouTube.
  • Subtitling also stays true to the source language meaning and original content.
  • Subtitling also respects the actor. One can say that the Godfather in a non-English language, however, would respect the integrity of the enormous performance at the film’s core. Subtitles take away nothing from the film, and this reason enough to prefer them to dubbing.
  • Subtitling also maintains the ambiance. The characters may or may not do anything in a play. The point is mood. The ambiance opens a portal in time. And that ambiance hinges in part upon the whispered exchanges, the monologue ruminations. Dub over their voices, and the whole mood collapses. When you lose the mood the film loses its punch. So do yourself and the director a favor: watch it subtitled and choose subtitling over dubbing
  • In addition to preserving the audio track and giving some freedom of interpretation, subtitles can also serve as an aid not only for the deaf and hard of hearing but also for people who learn the language, who need visual aid aside from audio input.

Major setbacks of subtitling

  • Video subtitles usually keep to a maximum of two lines and appear on the bottom of the screen in sync with the spoken audio. They remain on the screen just long enough for the audience members to read them as they take what is happening.
  • Only a human translations company, as opposed to machines, can properly subtitle a video due to the unique challenges involved in translating a video.
  • The relatively short length of lines, the number of characters allowed and the estimated reading speed of the viewers are particular challenges posed to subtitles who translate from the original English.
  • Often the target language runs long and can’t be fit into just two lines of the text within a few seconds. This obliges the subtitle to adjust the script into shorter lines while trying not to sacrifice meaning.
  • This is usually done by reducing filler words or by shortening sentences by cutting out non-substantive bits of information.
  • Bilinguals often complain that the translations of videos aren’t faithfully accurate, with a keyword or a section cut out entirely here and there. And yet the objective of the professional subtitle is to deliver the message across within a tight space and time frame.
  • They can distract the viewer from the on-screen action of the film. If you have a video with a lot of visual action messages, then dubbing might better suit your purposes than subtitling.

Now, what is a dubbing?

Dubbing is an audio recording of the video script that viewers hear translated into their own language. It replaces the original audio.

The translations require significant adaptation in order to suit depending on the target language, the complexity of the video and the exact synchronization of the audio to the visuals on the screen.

Complete article on [what is dubbing…]

Why prefer Dubbing? 

  • The advantages of dubbing to subtitles are many for the distinctive viewers: there are no distracting words on the screen, they understand the plot better by hearing it straight from the actors and they will not miss out on the subtitles when they briefly look away.
  • In addition, when more than one actor is on the screen, the contrast of different voices makes it easier for audience members to tell the actors apart and understand the dialog.
  • Dubbing stands out compared to subtitling in that when relying on subtitling, a viewer has to focus his/ her energy on keeping up with the words on the screen. In doing so, that same viewer may purposefully ignore or unintentionally miss other components of the video like background details, body language, and other information that is communicated visually.

Major setbacks of dubbing

  • Synchronization is the major element that needs to be taken into account and it poses considerable problems. When dubbing, the writer is not free to modify the text as he wishes to make the speech in the target language more natural. On the contrary, he has to strictly follow what appears on the screen and the dubbed dialogue should fit the lip movements of the actors.
  • Even when the lip movements of the actors are well synchronized with the voice in the translated version, dubbing only creates “the illusion of an illusion”. Perfect synchronization is almost impossible as one-to-one substitutions are very uncommon. For instance, some words have only one syllable in English and two or more in French. This is the case for the English word hat, the French translation of which is chapeau.
  • Dubbing a movie can be up to 15 times more expensive than adding subtitles. Thus, it is advisable to use subtitles for languages that are not commonly spoken because dubbing would not be cost-effective.

What Should You Consider Before Choosing Between Dubbing And Subtitling?

After all that what factors would you need to consider before choosing between the two?

  1. What kind of content is it?
    • What kind of video content you develop will determine whether you will end up dubbing or subtitling the content. Is your video a company video that shares technical information on a particular technology, service or product? Is it a training video series? Or a documentary
    • Your original vision for the video you created will guide you as to whether dubbing or subtitling will better honor it in the end.
  2. How will you publish distribute your video?
    • Your dubbing and subtitling options depend on how your video is packaged. DVDs or programs like Netflix offer a menu option of both voice-overs and subtitles in more than one language.
    • Video-sharing platforms, in turn, allow you to cheaply keep adding translated versions of the video in a number of languages, either dubbed or subtitled.
    • You may also opt to develop a finished video with either ‘’burnt in’’ subtitles or dubbing
  3. How complex is your video?
    • Consider the complexity of your video in your translation decision-making process. If your video contains on-screen text and graphics that also need to be translated, subtitling may make the video too text-saturated.
    • You may also have sound effects that you don’t want to be changed or eliminated in the process of dubbing. When you dub or subtitle, you add on to the audio or visual complexity of the video.
  4. Do you know your target audience?
    • The way you deliver your translated information to your target audience will determine how well it will be received.  For example, business video audiences typically read subtitles whereas consumers or people being given support, advice or announcements, are more open to dubbed videos.
    • Would either dubbing or subtitling give them the best understanding of the content? Which would give you the marketing result you desire in return for your investments?
    • The more research you undertake in investigating the tastes of your target audience, the more likely you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether you should end up dubbing or subtitling your video.


  • After looking at both processes of video production their advantages and disadvantages, now it is time to determine which one is best for you.
  • As you select the best, ask yourself the following questions when picking the right translation layout for your video:
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