07 JANUARY 2017

written by Mike



Dubbing is an art of replacing original dialogue in a movie with localized recordings.

To put it into even simpler words, can you remember the latest big animation?

Now as you can imagine a lot of children want to see these movies but, not everyone speaks English.

We estimate that there are around 6500 languages in the world today!

Of course, we don’t dub movies into all these languages but major releases can get provisioned up to 44 languages.

Dubbing is a lengthy and time-consuming process, but we can identify a few major steps in the undertaking:



Everything starts with translation from the original script to a specific language.

Production companies send out the transcripts to recording studios where creative team translates all the dialogue.

It is not an easy task because a lot of jokes and references would not make any sense in different countries.

Production team tries to analyze it and make suggestions for the best way to translate.



When the script is final, casting commences.

In countries with established dubbing scene, star talents have been playing the same actors for years.

For example, a Spanish or French voice talent can play Bruce Willies in every movie he has ever done!

Voice acting is a good way to make money as there are plenty opportunities in dubbing.

Not only in movies but also in books, games or commercials.

Check freelance sites like Fiverr for example.

Also, if you get recognized as a dubbed voice of a well-known actor, you can have a long and steady career.

Well, as long as the other person is doing well too.



After the casting, a creative director schedules several recording sessions for the voice actors.

During these sessions, the actors under the guidance of the director will record his/her lines while watching the screen.

The idea is to mimic, as close as possible, the original reactions and style of the movie character.

This process can take a long time as it usually occurs during the same time as the original dialogue is still in works. It means that some lines will change.

It is a lively and organic process.


After sound engineer records the dialogues, a creative team will listen to them, and dialogue editor will edit and clean the lines.

The job of a dialogue editor is to prepare the recording session for the dubbing mixer.  

When the session is ready, a mixer loads it up in a mixing theater –a special room that replicates the acoustics of cinema. 

The job of a mixer is to take the original music and effects from the movie and mix the foreign dialogue into it.

The process is quite complicated, and dialogues must be at the good volume level.

But what happens when characters are underwater, behind a door or maybe they are from another planet?

You will have to process all the recordings so they resemble, as close as possible, the original mix of the movie.

A team of editors checks the sound mix several times to spot any potential errors. A mixer will correct them before the movie release.

The standard software of choice in the industry is Pro Tools by Avid.



After a mixer completes the mix, there are a lot of different releases to be aware of.

A mix for TV will be different to a cinema mix.

Blu-ray and DVD are usually surround mixes, same as cinema releases.

Stereo mixes are rare these days, but they still get used for TV or Airline release.

The interesting fact is that every swear word gets listed and replaced with a softer equal for the Airline release.

Must be a cool job.

There are also more complicated mixes like IMAX or ATMOS where sound plays an important role in a story immersion.

Dubbing is an important side to an industry as the international box office usually makes more money than domestic release.

Next time, when you are watching a movie on Blu-ray or DVD, check the back of the box.

There are always a few foreign mixes included with your film.

Switch between them and listen how close and accurate the dubbing is.

I guarantee that it will surprise you.


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