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Dubbing and voice-over

Written by Kenia Arredondo

Kenia is a language-obsessed professional translator who is always searching for music from around the world and random, useless, but interesting fun facts.

August 13, 2021

Differences between Dubbing and Voice-over

There is no doubt that in the past few years, audiovisual productions have been gaining ground in the world of entertainment. As a consequence, there has also been a growth in professions related to the industry such as subtitling, creation of Closed Captions, dubbing, voice-over (by the way, if you are curious about how subtitling is done, check out this article and learn the guidelines for video subtitling).

Dubbing and voice-over are two concepts with which we might be familiarized. In the last years, we have had more access to content languages other than English, so you might have exposed to dubbed movies. Or maybe you like watching documentaries made all over the world, which has given you the opportunity to watch content thanks to voice-over. The differences between these two disciplines might not be clear, but don’t worry about it, in this article you will be able to recognize dubbing and voice-over in audiovisual productions and their differences.


What Are Voice-over and Dubbing?

First, dubbing is the substitution of the original voices of a product into the target language with the objective of internationalizing the original work.

On the other hand, voice-over is a type of audiovisual translation in which the translated audio is placed over the original audio of the work. I’m pretty sure that you have seen this type of translation in documentaries at least once.

Now that we know each discipline, let’s see their differences.



  • It’s common in series, movies, cartoons, among others.
  • Voice substitution: Dubbing is substituting the original voices of a product into the target language with the objective of internationalizing the original work.
  • Every character must have a specific voice.
  • There is less flexibility regarding the synchronization of time and lips.
  • As a consequence, the content might be limited.


  • It is mostly used in documentaries and marketing.
  • Overlapped voice: Invoice-over, the original audio of the video is turned down and the translated voice is overlapped, so we can listen to the original voice in the background while enjoying the video in another language.
  • It isn’t necessary for every character to have a specific voice.
  • There is more flexibility in the synchronization of the voices and isn’t necessary to follow the time strictly.
  • As a result, it’s possible to add more information in the translation.

To summarize, voice-over and dubbing are used for different products. While dubbing is more common in series and TV shows, voice-over is mostly used in marketing and documentaries. Besides, voice-over is more flexible, while dubbing has more strict parameters.

In general, audiovisual productions are a great means of reaching more people. Don’t let the language be a barrier and contact experts to impress your audience. In Traduality, we can help you with your multimedia content, since we offer subtitling, voice recording, and transcription services. Contact us to get an estimate.

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