Voice-over and dubbing are not the same thing, although people often get them confused. They are two different techniques that involve superimposing the voice of a voice actor onto a video. In addition, there are also two different approaches to voice-over work that non-professionals are often unaware of.

voice over and dubbing

The difference between voice-over and dubbing

Dubbing involves superimposing a voice actor’s voice over footage of a character speaking. The audio is matched with the video to perfectly sync the dubber’s voice to the mouth movements of the original actor.

The aim of the game is to make viewers believe that the dubber’s voice is in sync with the character’s mouth movements.

Dubbing is a very popular and successful technique used in film industries around the world. Films dubbed into other languages are often very enjoyable to watch, often gaining as much respect as the original version.

Voice-over, on the other hand, involves superimposing the voice of an off-screen narrator over footage that either doesn’t contain characters at all or contains characters who aren’t talking. Voice-over acting can be broken down into two further subcategories:

  • actual voice-over: when the narrator’s original voice is completely replaced by a voice actor’s voice;
  • oversound: when the volume of the narrator’s original voice is lowered and a voice actor’s voice is superimposed at a higher volume.

When to use voice-over

Now that we know the difference between voice-over and dubbing, let’s take a look at why voice-over is actually used. Off-screen narrators are very handy when editing videos that don’t feature speaking characters, such as documentaries on history, art, and culture. This is because voice-overs can provide viewers with additional information that isn’t shown on screen.

It is also heavily relied upon in the advertising industry, primarily when making television ads as part of international campaigns.

Voice-over is also used in films that feature dubbing, often to recap past events or share the narrator’s thoughts with viewers.

Voice-over is much quicker and easier to do than dubbing, making it the cheaper option. In fact, you only need to enlist the help of one professional to record a translated voice-over track.

When to use dubbing

Dubbing is the best option when you want to make a video available to an international audience and to engage them in the events narrated on screen.

If you want to preserve the tone of voice or inflexions of a character on-screen, or don’t want to use subtitles, dubbing is definitely your best bet.