The Guide to Audiovisual Translation

The Guide to Audiovisual Translation – Subtitling or Dubbing?

When a movie is imported to a country, there is one process that has to be chosen regarding translation, which is either subtitling or dubbing. Although each person has preferences in this regard, these forms of translation are usually chosen according to several factors. Culture preferences, distribution channels, demographics, content type, deadlines, and costs are some of the decisive factors when it comes to audiovisual translation.

So, what is so different about these movie translation forms, and what do you need to know if you intend to become a movie translator? Read to find out.

What Does Audiovisual Mean?

We can define audiovisual as content that incorporates both visual and sound components. Movies are the best example of this, as they require both your sight and hearing in order to understand what’s going on.

As such, audiovisual translation requires translating the sound from a language to another, thus conveying the message of the sentences and fitting the visual content.

How Are Dubbing and Subtitling Different?

Although both processes require a the best translator in order to make the content accessible to the country’s audience. While both involve a dialogue transcript, there are different stages involved with each translation form.

Having said that, let’s take dubbing translation, for instance. For dubbing, countries have to hire actors that will play the sound part, each voice being attributed to one character. In addition, lip syncing is one thing that needs a lot of attention – otherwise, there might be delays in the dialogues, which will end up confusing the viewers.

Concurrently, subtitling means maintaining the original sound and language of the movie, while adding the translation in the form of text on the screen. This method will be time-consuming as timecodes need to be added in order to make subtitles appear and disappear, depending on the dialogues.


What Are the Benefits of Dubbing?

Dubbing might be a little annoying for people who like watching movies in their authentic form, but there are also benefits to take into consideration.

For instance, through dubbing, it’s much easier to appeal to the mainstream audience of a country. A lot of people love watching dubbed movies because hearing people of their own talk makes it much more understandable and lets them focus on the visual content. If they have to do something while the movie is being broadcasted, they can do so while listening to the dialogues, unlike subtitling which needs constant visual attention.

What Are the Benefits of Subtitling?

With subtitling, you have, first and foremost, the benefit of maintaining the movie’s authenticity. Dubbing sometimes fails to show the same emotion as the original actors, focusing more on lip-syncing and the dialogue itself. Subtitling lets you hear the actual sound while reading the translation on the screen.

In addition, there is a much lower cost involved with subtitling. While dubbing requires hiring voice actors and many other things, subtitling is nothing more than adding captions and synchronizing them with the dialogues.

Furthermore, it’s much easier to transmit the actual message of the dialogue through subtitles, as more information can be added, unlike with dubbing.

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What Are the Downsides?

There are also pitfalls coming with each of these methods, just like with anything else.

For example, translation and subtitling have to be done in such a way that they make use of the limited space. A certain number of characters must be used in order to send the message properly while making sure the viewer will be able to get it in the limited number of seconds it’s on the screen. Additionally, the subtitles need to be on the screen at the same time as the dialogue, but thankfully we have automatic subtitling software to help with that nowadays. Besides, subtitles can slow down the viewer too, as a person has to focus on both the text and the action taking place on the screen.

Dubbing, at the same time, is much pricier as voice actors need to be hired to play the vocal part of the characters. Like that wasn’t enough, one big challenge is lip-syncing. Voice actors need to synchronize their dialogues with the mouth movements of the actual actors – otherwise, there might be delays, which confuse and slow down the viewer.

Read also: When need a certified translation of your documents, rely on professional German to English translation services.

Final Thoughts

Dubbing and subtitling are both processes that are part of the complexity of translating a movie. As you were able to see, each one has its pros and cons, which is why movie translation is such a time-consuming thing. Whichever is chosen, it’s a way to make movies accessible to foreign audiences, which is why audiovisual translation is such an important thing.