Dubbing vs subtitles – how Europe is split

Dubbing, although an increasingly localised and popular process through innovative digital tools like VoiceQ 3.0, is still not the de facto means of translating foreign films for a local audience everywhere. In Europe, there is a rigid line drawn across the continent, splitting northwestern regions like the U.K, Ireland and Scandinavia from the rest.

This division is constituted by a socio-historical disagreement over how dubbing is used. While the northwestern countries use subtitles for the majority of foreign media, with dubbing restricted to children's film and television, the majority of Europe use ADR for nearly every foreign project, to the point where dubbing voice actors have considerable celebrity in their own right.

"Northern Europe prefer text-prompts or even printed text, which relies extensively on the actor's abilities for sync."

U.K, Ireland and Scandinavia

Sound engineer Theodor Stojanov noted in a report to the Audio Engineering Society that ''audience expectation ultimately dictates the amount of effort that goes into dubbing a film''. In this region, subtitling is the social expectation for foreign films and television, reducing dubbing to a position of re-presenting children's content in an easily digestible way.

This is potentially due to a disassociation with traditionally time-consuming dubbing practices – Stojanov noted that ''Northern Europe prefer the text-prompt or even printed text, which relies on the actor's abilities for sync'', free of technological support.

This reliance on outdated ADR methods is slowly being eroded, with digital dubbing technology like VoiceQ making in-roads in these markets in partnerships with companies like ADRenaline Dub and Post and Pro-dubbing UK in London.

The U.K rarely employs dubbing on foreign projects intended for adults.

France, Germany, Italy and more

In the rest of Europe, dubbing foreign content is intricately tied to localised media industries. ''Dubbing was the first choice in countries such as France, Germany and Italy, which were more financially-rewarding markets… Moreover, these countries boasted important national film schools willing to fight Hollywood supremacy, and thus favoured dubbing out of protectionist policies'' according to Emilio Audissino in 'Media and Translation: An Interdisciplinary Approach'. This continental favouring of dubbing reflects the processes ability to express the intricacies and poetic qualities of local languages, and also to bypass any literacy issues in the populace.

Dub actors are famous in their own right, and have even gained notoriety for ongoing associations with Hollywood actors – German voice artist Marcus Off regularly dubs actors such as Ralph Fiennes, Sean Penn and Michael Sheen according to The Independent.

Dubbing techniques vary from country to country, but most make use of the traditional rythmoband method. VoiceQ has drawn the best elements of this traditional technique and digitised it, speeding up the process and making real-time changes possible without significant costly delays. They share global affiliations with dubbing powerhouses like Encore Voices, aiming to blend traditional dubbing practices with digital speed and adaptability.

But France uses dubbing extensively on its foreign projects.

Where VoiceQ helps

Traditional dubbing processes, be it using the rythmoband or in text-prompts, presented costly operational challenges for producers. Without the ease of real-time dialogue edits and continued difficulties with audio sync, many found dubbing a process not worth the investment. VoiceQ 3.0 software is the answer.

Its innovative flexibility and portable compatibility means that dubbing projects can be undertaken without being tied to expensive studio equipment, slashing your production costs. It also offers unrivalled ability in dialogue adaptation and translation, meaning your actors can deliver authentic vocal performances using dialogue tailored to meet the intricacies of the target audience's dialect.

With dubbing practices continuing to streamline through increasing digitisation and a focus on collaborative and real-time editing, perhaps the parts of Europe and the rest of the world where dubbing remains an under-appreciated art form will turn to using ADR technology more regularly.

VoiceQ 3.0 offers users unparalleled flexibility and ease of use, blending the best of traditional practices with digital innovation. See the benefits for yourself by trialling our Pro 3.0 software today or selecting a licensed package that suits your project workflow.