When discussing dubbing, one of the things that comes to mind is terribly dubbed chinese films with Kung Fu masters speaking out of time with lips moving seconds after they’re done talking.

Whilst this may be amusing, dubbing in the modern world is actually done far more than one may realise, and the reason is because really good dubbing goes largely unnoticed.

Contrary to popular belief dubbing isn’t only done in foreign film. Although Hollywood blockbusters are dubbed for audience consumption in non – english speaking countries, dubbing also done in the form of ADR. The reason for this is to ensure that vocal tracks which have been recorded in a potentially noisy settings can be re-recorded in a dead room (or noise proof room).

Life as a dubbing artist

Welcome to one to the most challenging parts of voiceover work. The reason dubbing is such a challenge is because when you are doing dubbing work you will be required to put all of your emotional energy into what’s happening on screen without actually playing the scene as the actor. Basically, but with great difficulty, you have to be in sync with the screen

If you are dubbing for a cartoon or animated film, you will have to do the same amount of prep a headline actor would do for their character on screen save for one point only – you will only be using your voice.

This means that all of the character traits you may see in a film are done with only vocals in dubbing sessions.

If you have the opportunity to do a dubbing session for a foreign film, then you’re also in for a challenge, because you will have to read a script and simultaneously watch a screen to drop in at exactly the right time. You may also be having to listen to the actors speaking, meaning you’re going to be trying to match their inflection and movement.

VO & Dubbing – What’s the difference?

Voiceover is not to be confused with dubbing. Though in some aspects the two are the same sort of thing, they are also very different in some unique ways. Voiceover is all about imparting information to the listener using certain vocal norms to keep the listener engaged, dubbing is about the vocal sound, rises and falls and using techniques of communication.

Voiceover is good for short spurts of information over things like informative film. (Think national Geographic or History channel)

Here’s the main difference – voiceover is an extra audio track over and above the original. Dubbing is however, a retention of the original audio, or rather, a replacement of a track which is supposed to be there.

One particularly interesting type of dubbing is called UN – Style voice over or UN style – dubbing. We see it mostly in excerpts from documentaries or news broadcasting, where an individual begins speaking and a voice is dubbed over the voice of the original speaker in the intended language, whilst keeping the original audio playing much softer in the background.

This style of dubbing is so called because it was originated in the UN parliament where translation of foreign languages is a necessity.

What’s typical about this style of voice over dubbing is that it needs to have a slightly faster pace than the original recorded voice because the original language needs to be shown first for a second in order to maintain the integrity of the scene, and the script needs to be completed prior to the change of shot.

Tools of the trade:

There are a few things one need for a good dubbing track.

1 – The mic.

As with all sound recording you have to decide what type of instrument you’re going  to be using. With recording vocals, you don’t want to use a dynamic mic because the response may come across a bit muffled by comparison to a condenser mic. With a condenser mic the response will be fairly flat frequency response across a wide range, allowing you to record male or female vocals without there needing to be too much editing.

2 – The Sound card

The biggest thing about condenser mics is that they need to have phantom power, meaning that they require an external power source from the soundcard in order to work properly. This means  that when buying a sound card for recording you have to take into consideration that fact that the card must have a phantom power capability. Research is the best way forward here so use as many resources as you can find to get the best quality card for your purposes.

3 – Soundproofing

Soundproofing is paramount when you’re doing any kind of voiceover work. You cannot have background white noise or ambient frequencies and sounds have to be clean so that the vocals that get input are seamlessly integrated with the original tracks.

How we can help you with dubbing

We at Cosher Recording Studios in Cape Town, focus on providing the best service to the music and film industries. With a fully industry standard studio space with 3 main workstations, experienced and capable engineers, and the capability to work with clients who are based in other locations, we do our utmost to provide clients with everything they need from the brief to final product.