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How to Add Voice to Video: Dubbing

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If you’re looking to add voice to video, then you’ve got to learn about the art of dubbing.

Dubbing has a very long history, beginning with the emergence of dubbed Hollywood movies in the early 1930s. People realized that to help their films reach a bigger audience, they needed something far more effective than subtitles, and they soon found the answer in voice dubbing. Dubbing allowed production houses to localize their films and distribute them in other countries, like France, where non-English languages are primarily spoken. Today, we see content creators going through the same process of localization, to create valuable content for diverse audiences, spreading their message worldwide. 

Voice dubbing helps you to reach international audiences with your content, by translating your video into several languages. Expertly done, dubbing can make the audience forget the existence of the original version because it adds an element of authenticity, by incorporating the nuances of the translated language. 

Learn how to add voice to a video, dubbing it into another language and find out how dubbing is quickly become a mainstream media trend. 

How to Add Voice to Video: Dubbing

Dubbing removes the video’s original spoken audio track and replaces it with a new one in another language, while retaining the same overall feel of the original. This process is also known as ‘revoicing.’ 

A badly dubbed video can end up looking like a parodic version of the original, and if you aren’t looking for that quality then it’s really important to pay close attention to the entire process. Additionally, dubbing can prove to be quite a time-consuming and costly process, so any mistakes will definitely increase your overhead costs. 

Most importantly, your video’s new audio should be recorded by a professional voice actor who can deliver the same rhythm and timing of the original audio, to ensure that it seamlessly syncs with the video footage. 

Before you get started, here are the things you will require: 

  • Original character sketch: This will help you understand the original characters’ personalities.
  • Original cast information: To help you analyze the original voice(s) and understand why they resonated with the initial audience.
  • Original script and dialogue list: To translate the script into the specified language.
  • Audio and video files from the original work.
  • Technical equipment: Recording booth and editing software for audio dialogue replacement (ADR).

How to Add New Voice Over to Video: 4 Steps to Dubbing

Step 1: Voice Over Script Translation and Localization

The first step in dubbing, is translating or localizing your original script into the specified language by understanding the original character(s), dialogues and tone of the video. You must also keep in mind that, localization doesn’t mean translation. Instead, it’s all about using the audience’s local language or dialect to strike a connection with them, similar to what your original content does. 

Note: Read about the difference between translation and localization.

Translating the script can be a challenge as critical parts like humor and cultural references can get lost in the process. That’s why it’s worth it to invest in localization, which adapts the messaging to the culture and language of the audience, rather than a direct, word-for-word translation. 

If you’re re-creating the script yourself, feel free to rewrite certain parts to suit the target audience, as this will make the dubbing seem more authentic and appealing to audiences. Rewriting allows you to add culture specific elements into the script, which helps your audience strongly relate to content because of the familiar elements. 

For example, the highly successful Japanese cartoon, Doraemon airs in several countries, in a variety of languages like Hindi and Mandarin, and the creators and distributors have gone the extra mile to make the series a worldwide phenomenon. This includes making the cartoon more culturally appealing to young viewers from other cultures, by renaming Japanese terms like ‘dorayaki,’ into more simpler terms like ‘dora cakes.’ Dora cakes have become a huge part of Doraemon’s fandom, with people regularly searching for the treat and its recipe, showing how smart dubbing ensures great commercial success. 

Scholarly analysis of what makes for a successful localized film, has found that a  good translator should focus on recreating linguistic relations that can generate specific feelings and reactions from the audience. For example, if a certain portion of the film is intended to lift the audiences’ hope in the hero succeeding, then the dialogue should be modified to convey that emotional trajectory.

Another crucial task involved in the rewriting process involves considering the ‘lip-sync.’ This means the new script must mimic the same number of syllables/words in the lines, so that the new audio matches the character’s mouth movements. 

Step 2: Voice Casting for the Dubbing Project

Next, you’ll want to ensure you are casting a voice actor who knows the cultural nuances of the language or dialect, and can express the exact voice qualities the role requires. Choosing the right voice actor is very important, as a skilled voice actor can play around with the script, improving the quality of the voice over. 

To ensure that the best voice actors audition for your project, write a strong job description which specifies the language, dialect and voice qualities you are looking for. This helps a voice actor understand the role better and reduces the chances of miscommunication during the project. 

Step 3: Recording the Translated Script

The voice actor will now record the new audio for your video, ensuring that the performance matches the quality of the original. 

While directing the project, you have to determine if the translated script sounds convincing. Essentially, the translated script should sound authentic and not forced or unnatural. 

Voice actor Tara Sands has been a part of many translated Japanese video games. In her experience, a crucial part of dubbing is to ensure that the timing and tone matches the original work.

“They like to bring in people who can listen to the original Japanese and match it for time and tone. They often don’t want an exact voice match, but you still have to honor the spirit of the original voice,” explains Sands

As Sands explains, you don’t need to make the voice actor mimic each and every sound the original audio contains. Sometimes, translations can slightly shift the meaning of a scene, and sounds like laughs or smirks, should only be included if they add meaning to the situation.

Note: Learn more about Tara and hear her demos.

Step 4: Syncing the Dubbed Audio 

Syncing the dubbed audio file with the video is a highly technical task because it involves making sure the voice over syncs with the original character’s mouth movements. 

You will need to assemble, synchronize and edit the audio to match it with the video file and this process is called, Audio Dialogue Replacement (ADR). 

Accurate syncing ensures audiences don’t see a character’s mouth open during the absence of dialogue. 

Remember to hear the whole audio and take out any superfluous words to make the video more engrossing. The whole process is highly time consuming, but the effort and time will pay off when you see the end product.

You can also hire an ADR technician for a more accurate result.

The Trend of Dubbing

The art of dubbing has definitely improved within the last few decades, consequently increasing its demand around the world. The circulation of media is no longer restricted by the barriers of language, as we see hundreds of films and television shows being translated into multiple languages and dialects around the world. You can easily watch a Japanese or French film in your native language by looking for the dubbed version. 

Localizing for Business Markets

Several years ago, ‘localization’ was a term only known to translation professionals, and companies were just beginning to understand what the process meant for their business. 

Now, we see almost every company using ‘hyper-localized’ strategies to target specific markets across the globe. A hyper-localized plan is based on well-targeted personalization, meaning that almost each and every business feature adapts to the local culture and demands of the market, mostly focusing on marketing tactics. This type of strategy requires a hefty amount of funds and dubbing helps reduce that cost, because it allows you to easily strike a connection with foreign audiences through digital content like videos. 

Also, when you dub your ads or explainer videos into the local language, you take advantage of the ‘buy local’ movement, as your brand appears to be localized and familiar to the local customers. 

The Popularity of Fandubs

In the late ‘90s, anime swept audiences in America with shows like Sailor Moon enchanting viewers and introducing them to Japan’s amazing anime culture. 

Initially, people were not happy with how the dubbing removed cultural references from the script, but now dubbing processes have become more faithful to the source materials, showing how translators are taking the art of dubbing more seriously. 

The history of anime localization continues to move forward. The love for anime dubs is reaching new heights, with the rise of ‘fandubs,’ which are essentially anime shows dubbed by fans who strive to improve the already translated versions, or alter the show’s plot. An example of this would be Team Four Star’s abridged version of Dragon Ball Z, a very popular version of the famous anime show. 

Studio Ghibli’s GKids YouTube channel features trailers of dubbed Japanese anime films, catering to thousands of devoted fans who wait eagerly for such releases. Studio Ghibli’s films are successful outside Japan because the dubbing projects involve directors and talented voice actors who understand the challenges of translating well-loved films. 

The English language trailer for Okko’s Inn shows how a properly dubbed film can create the same magic of the original, and excite viewers around the world. Madigan Kacmar, a young voice actor, beautifully brings the translation to life by capturing the personality of the young Japanese protagonist, Okko. 

When an audience positively receives your dubbed version, you realize that all your hard work eventually pays off. The world is transforming into a global village and the demand for dubbing will only increase, giving you many opportunities to create translated and localized content.

Are you looking for a talented voice actor for your new dubbing project? Browse our marketplace to find a voice actor skilled in the language you desire.

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