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Types of Re-Voicing

So you’ve got video that you need translated into another language, and you don’t want to rely on subtitles. That means it’s time to hire a localization service to produce a new audio track in your desired language. But what kind of re-voicing do you choose? There are 4 general methods of re-voicing video, and each one has its specific advantages and uses.

Off-Screen Voice-Over

This form of voice-over is used for videos where no speaker appears on screen, and an off-screen narrator describes the actions or content being displayed. Even though this form of re-voicing doesn’t require audio to be synchronized with an on-screen speaker, the audio still has to be timed to the events and words in the video. This kind of audio replacement is most often used in instructional videos, promotional material, and demo reels, where the video content is the main focus.

UN-Style Voice-Over

UN-style voice-over is the kind of audio replacement that you see used on news broadcasts. One to two seconds after the person on-screen starts speaking on the video’s original language track (which plays 20% below standard volume), another voice speaking the desired second language begins reciting the translation of their words. Aside from news shows, this type of re-voicing is often used in documentaries, live interviews, and other videos where the original speaker’s voice needs to be at least partially preserved.

Voice Replacement

This type of re-voicing is done when the original language audio needs to be entirely replaced, and the translation of the spoken words needs to be absolutely accurate. Unlike lip-sync dubbing (see below), this method of voice-over replaces an on-screen speaker’s audio with a foreign language translation beginning and ending at the same time as the original speaker’s words. Unlike lip-syncing, however, voice replacement forgoes matching the on-screen speaker’s lip flaps, or timing the audio exactly to the frame rate, in order to translate the meaning of the spoken words as accurately and clearly as possible. For instructional material, corporate videos, and other material where preserving the full, original meaning of the words is paramount, this is the ideal choice.

Lip-Sync Dubbing

The second method of completely replacing an on-screen speaker’s words with a new language track, lip-sync dubbing’s aim is to match the spoken translation to the movement of the original speaker’s mouth movements, or lip flaps, as closely as possible. When replacing the audio of a TV show, movie, web show, or other piece of video content where it’s more important to maintain the appearance of characters speaking than it is to keep absolute fidelity to the original meaning, lip-sync dubbing is the go-to choice.

What kind of video content you need translated and what kind of effect you want the new audio track to have should determine what audio dubbing option you should choose. If you’re not sure which kind of re-voicing will best meet your needs, speak with an audio professional at the studio where you are working and get their expert opinion.