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مارس 2, 2021 | News

Subtitling or Dubbing? Which Is Right for Your Video?

Subtitling or dubbing? How do you know which one is right for your video? There’s no shortage of (often very vocal) opinions to argue the benefits of both sides. However, knowing which one to choose for your project largely depends on who your target audience is and where your video will appear.

Both forms of translation have their advantages and disadvantages regarding how people process information, and what method they’re used to using. Here, we’ll take a look at the arguments for and against subtitling and dubbing, and let you make your own decision.

Subtitles Have Been Linked to Increased Efficiency 

Various studies have revealed that reading subtitles is more efficient for memory retention than watching a dubbed video. Unless your audience is made up of children under the age of 11, subtitling has been found to be easier for viewers to process.  

There is a counter-argument, of course. Fans of dubbing often stress that written texts on videos can serve to distract the viewer’s attention. But, it’s actually a good way of anchoring their gaze and synching the content with the text. 

The medium on which your video will appear is also important. At least 85% of people watch videos on Facebook with the sound off. So, dubbing a video for this platform without adding subtitles could result in a massive loss of revenue.

Moreover, people can still read subtitles in the presence of environmental noises. This means that, if they’re on the go, in a noisy street or restaurant, they’ll still receive the message of your video. 

When deciding on subtitling or dubbing, however, you should take into account the countries that your video is targeting. Many countries have a long history of dubbing movies and other content, including France, Spain, and Italy. In these cases, they’re used to watching audiovisual content with voiceovers, and may not be receptive to reading subtitles. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of other cultures that prefer subtitling to dubbing. They find it easy to assimilate the information because they have developed automatic reading behavior. This includes Argentina, Portugal, Sweden, and South Korea. 

Subtitles Preserve the Original Voices of the Actors

Of course, one of the best parts about subtitling is that it allows you to preserve the original voices of the actors with their tones, intonations, and authentic expressions. This is particularly important when it comes to immersive films and documentaries. But, is your video long format or short format? Is it a marketing video that can easily be spoken by a foreign voice? Or is it vital that you keep the acting caliber of your original work?

It’s true that voice is crucial when it comes to acting and you don’t want your foreign audiences to miss out on the authentic experience. However, if your content exists to sell a product to locals or convey points that are free from heartfelt emotions, you can probably find a local voiceover that works just as well.

Moreover, your audience may be more receptive to hearing the message in their local language as it builds trust and will help to convince them to convert. So, think about the objective of your video, the habits of your audience, and how important it is to maintain the original voices when considering subtitling or dubbing.

Subtitles Help Language Learners

Subtitles help people to learn new languages. This is especially true when the translation happens in real-time and people can read the words and listen to them at the same time. It also helps people to improve their pronunciation in a foreign language. 

This is one of the reasons that the level of English proficiency is much higher in Northern Europe. All TV programs and movies are shown in the original language with subtitles. Compare this to countries like Spain and Italy, where it’s almost impossible to watch original content in movie theaters or on local television. 

Yet, while this is a noteworthy fact, once again it comes down to who your target audience is and what you’re aiming to achieve with your content. After all, chances are, you’re looking to convert with your video, not improve your audience’s language skills.

Dubbing Is More Expensive Than Subtitling 

If you’re on the fence about the best way to proceed when translating your video, it might help to know that subtitling is cheaper than dubbing. That’s because dubbing involves using professional voiceovers, often in a studio, and hiring editors and post-edit specialists. Subtitling requires less production, so it can also be completed more quickly. 

Beware though, not to cut corners in either case. You should work with a professional language services provider that has experience in your chosen field. Bad subtitling can put your viewers off immediately if there are too many words on a frame or they aren’t given sufficient time to read the text.

If you choose to subtitle your video, be sure that your translator knows how to select the right combination of words in the target language so that they stay within the parameters of the screen without causing a distraction. 

Remember to Keep Your Target Audience in Mind

While subtitling may be easier to process and apt for platforms like Facebook, that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. Keep your target audience in mind when making your decision. 

You may not want to lose the immersive experience of your original content. But if your video is destined for a country that’s more comfortable with dubbing, subtitles may get it put permanently on pause.

It’s also important to carry out deeper research into your target audience beyond the country that they live in. Oftentimes, a preference for subtitling is linked with the socio-economic level of your audience. This means that a video meant for a well-educated audience may not require the same treatment as one looking to achieve more mass-market appeal.

Finally, try to keep an open mind and remember that, while you may love your original video the way it is, it’s your audience that you need to convince. Keep your emotions out of it when deciding on subtitling or dubbing.