Subtitles or Dubbing?

When it comes to video content, marketing, or anything else that has to do with showcasing a video to a wide target audience, there is always the question of whether to go with subtitles or dubbing. Without a doubt, audiovisual translation is crucial for accessibility, which in turn is crucial to help spread the word and allow more and more people to watch your video content.

Translation through the use of subtitles involves having the translated sentences appear on the screen, typically below where it is least likely to distract the audience. Dubbing makes no use of words, as the original voice actors are dubbed over by other people in the local language. 

What makes subtitles great?

First and foremost, one of the best parts about subtitles is that it is much cheaper to achieve than dubbing. With dubbing, you have to worry about getting voice talent to get the job done, which immediately makes things more expensive.

Subtitling also allows things to be as natural as possible, as you keep the original voice actors and all you have to do is hire translators to fully translate the content. Afterward, it is only a matter of timing the words before you finish things up. Dubbing is a much more involved process that not every company might have the budget to accomplish.

What makes dubbing great?

While subtitles might force the audience to read the text below, dubbing allows viewers to concentrate on the video without having to worry about reading anything. Dubbing also tends to be the ideal choice in locations where people prefer to consume media in their native language. While it might be a more expensive prospect, you have the freedom to choose your voice over artists, which means you have quite a bit more creative freedom with the video content.

Some things tend to get lost in translation with subtitles, though the same can be said for dubbing. Both of them have advantages when it comes to how video content is translated. Lastly, it also has the added effect of being useful for individuals who suffer impaired vision and might not necessarily be able to read subtitles.

So which one is the best?

In most cases — especially if the business handling the video content is small and does not have much of a budget — subtitling is the most common way to translate video content. It increases accessibility while remaining reasonably priced. On the other hand, dubbing can help for those special cases where you want to showcase the talent of the dubbing team, or perhaps simply want to go the extra mile to help audiences abroad understand the context. When it comes to accessibility for the vision-impaired, dubbing is the way to go.

Both types of translation have their pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide which one is ultimately the best for your video content. That said, for shorter content, it might be a good idea to go for dubbing, and save the less expensive subtitling route for longer video content.