The internet, digital streaming services, and other technological advances allow businesses, filmmakers, and content creators to bring their stories to audiences everywhere. While language barriers remain a challenge when it comes to reaching international markets, industries rely on translation and localization, along with the two most common methods: subtitling and dubbing. Now, CCCI raises the question, “Which method is better?” In this article, we’ll discuss subtitling VS dubbing and make the best decision for your content!

Key Takeaways:

  • 76% of respondents from the United States and 75% from the United Kingdom prefer subtitling over dubbing. In comparison, 54% of viewers in Italy and six out of 10 in Germany prefer dubbing.
  • 85% of all Facebook videos are watched with the sound off, and 80% of video viewers are likelier to finish a video with subtitles.
  • Subtitling is best for viewers with difficulty hearing, while dubbing is best suited for visually-impaired audiences.
  • The winner for subtitling VS dubbing can depend on your target audience’s preference, budget, and even the type of video or film you’re creating.
  • The pros of professional subtitling are most effective when you hire a professional subtitler who understands the nuances of the target language and knows the subtitling standards.

Table of Content:

  • The Difference Between Subtitling and Dubbing
  • The Pros and Cons of Subtitling
  • The Pros and Cons of Dubbing
  • CCCI – Multilingual Subtitling Service for Any Project

The Difference Between Subtitling and Dubbing

On the one hand, subtitling, automated or manual, is providing subtitles to a film, video, or program. It’s the process of translating the screenplay, transcript, or dialogue into another language and superimposing them over the video. The subtitles are usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. They could be in a foreign language or the same language the film is shot in. Some subtitles also include added information.

On the other hand, dubbing is a post-production process where producers replace the original voices with voice actors speaking in another language. They add the new audio into the original sound, creating a finished soundtrack with fully translated dialogue. When dubbing films or videos, the translated audio is carefully synchronized with the original video.

Subtitling and dubbing make audiences worldwide feel closer to a story and allow them to enjoy it in their native language. Of course, businesses can also use either method for product videos, explainer videos, employee training materials, and more! Both are equally effective translations and can help you reach new markets.

The Pros and Cons of Subtitling

In a 2021 survey, 76% of respondents from the United States and 75% from the United Kingdom said they prefer subtitling over dubbing. That’s a lot of people! Of course, subtitling has several benefits, but it also has some drawbacks. Some of its advantages include the following:

Preserving the Original Audio

Subtitling preserves the original audio, meaning it helps maintain the film’s integrity. Subtitles allow viewers to enjoy the accurate performance and emotion of the actors! Moreover, if you’re learning a new language, subtitling can be very helpful for studying the pronunciation and intonation of native speakers.

Accessibility For the Deaf Audience

Subtitling also makes films more accessible for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Many people have problems with accent recognition or difficulty following the dialogue, so being able to read the script can be a huge help. It’s also possible to include information that helps them understand the translation and visuals, such as descriptions of music, sound effects, and other audio cues.

Note: 85% of all Facebook videos are watched with the sound off, and 80% of video viewers are likelier to finish a video with subtitles. If you want to reach a wider audience through social media, subtitling is your go-to method!

Faster Process than Dubbing

Because there’s no need to match the actors’ lip movements, the subtitling process is usually faster compared to dubbing. Of course, there’s still the need for careful translation, proofreading, and determining the timing of when the subtitles should appear, but it’s generally lesser work.

More Affordable Option than Dubbing

Lastly, subtitling is more affordable than dubbing. It requires less production time and no extra studio equipment and actors. The cost might depend on your project.

Now, what makes subtitling a less-than-ideal option? Here are some of the disadvantages of this method:

Lack of Space

Subtitles must be kept short and simple to avoid overwhelming the viewers. This process is complicated as expressing certain nuances in a few words can be challenging, and some viewers might even miss crucial details.

Distracting and Giving Away Crucial Plot Points

Subtitles can be distracting, especially for those not used to reading them. Additionally, some viewers might be able to predict the plot twists if they read the dialogue beforehand.

Bi-modal Translation

It’s also worth noting that subtitling requires a bi-modal translation approach, meaning the viewers must read and listen simultaneously. It can be hard to follow without a proper understanding of both languages, as they must be able to catch up with what’s happening on the screen and read the subtitles at the same time.

Note: The pros of professional subtitling are most noticeable when you hire a professional subtitler to do the job. Subtitling can only be effective if its translation is accurate and precise!