Subtitling vs. Dubbing: Which Workflow is Best for Your Organization?


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When it comes to watching their favorite foreign language films, many viewers choose between two main viewing options – subtitling vs. dubbing. These two options are largely dependent on the viewer, where they are from, and their viewing preference. 

Viewers who prefer subtitling will go to the ends of the Earth about how much better it is than dubbing, and vice versa. 

No matter which side of the argument you stand on the subtitling vs. dubbing debate, as a producer and creator of foreign language video content, it’s important to not only distinguish between the two but also to understand which one fits best into your translation workflow. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between subtitling vs. dubbing and their respective workflows. Ultimately, you’ll be better equipped with the knowledge to make the most informed decision about which one is right for your organization.   


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What is Subtitling?

In many parts of the world, like in Europe, subtitles and captions are used interchangeably. However, in the United States, we differentiate between the two



Captions, on the other hand, convey all of the audio information, including sound effects, speaker identifications, and non-speech elements. Captions are written in the source language of the video.  

Here’s an example of a short foreign language film with English subtitles. 



There are many benefits of subtitling. Some of them include:  

  • Boosting video SEO
  • Improving the user experience by making videos more engaging 
  • Helps viewers with spelling and grammar
  • Aids in the focus and comprehension for viewers 
  • Makes it easier for viewers to learn another language 
  • Makes your videos accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing viewers 

What is Dubbing?

While some viewers prefer watching videos with subtitles, others prefer following along with the dialogue in their native language. 

Although similar, dubbing is not the same as a voiceover, which is used to inform viewers about the story and character and is used for creative storytelling purposes.



Dubbing should fit effortlessly into the video and for the most part, should go unnoticed by viewers.  

Here’s an example of the American television sitcom, Friends, dubbed in German.



There are many reasons why viewers prefer to watch videos with dubbing. Some of the benefits include: 

  • Portrays the emotion and tone of the original audio 
  • Viewers can solely focus on watching the video instead of reading text
  • Useful for people who struggle with reading or cannot read 
  • Viewers can multitask while listening to the audio 
  • Easier to censor explicit content of the original audio

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Subtitling vs. Dubbing: The Differences in Workflow

No matter the viewers’ preference, when it comes to the implementation of subtitling vs. dubbing, the two are very different. 

Before deciding on which is best for your organization, you’ll first want to consider the costs, editing, publishing, and quality. 


The Subtitling Workflow

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There are two main ways to create subtitles – you can either go the DIY route or you can use a translation vendor. 

Similar to creating captions, subtitling on your own can be a very costly and time-consuming process. You’ll have to manually transcribe the audio in the original language, which could take 4-5 times longer than the length of the video. Next, you’ll have to manually translate the captions, ensuring it’s both accurate and maintains the same cultural context of the original audio.  

With a translation vendor, you’re able to cut down on cost and time, especially if you’re organization produces a large amount of video content 

A good vendor will be able to take on the responsibility of the transcription and translation process and deliver the final output to you or automatically upload it to your video.  

At 3Play Media, our automation gives our customers peace of mind by seamlessly posting completed translation file formats back to the original video content without our customers doing any additional work, essentially streamlining the translation process.

The cost of subtitling can vary depending on the process you choose to undergo. 

At first glance, the DIY route seems like the cheaper option. However, once your video content needs increase, it becomes exponentially more expensive and harder to maintain quality, consistency, and efficiency. It’s only recommended to DIY your translations when you have a very small quantity of video content.  

With a vendor, the cost of translations can vary. It can typically range from $10-26 per minute depending on the language. When working with a translation vendor, be sure that the company values quality. Although some vendors are lower in cost, they could be sacrificing accuracy which will ultimately cost more money down the road. 

With editing, the subtitling process is far more superior to dubbing. Since subtitling consists of text, it’s much easier to go back and make changes. 

With 3Play, customers can edit and make changes to their translations without having to redo the entire process – at no extra cost. Once the changes are made, the translations will update automatically on their video content.

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The Dubbing Workflow

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Dubbing is a complex process that typically requires multiple experts. The first part of the process is to create a script.  Not only will you have to translate the dialogue into another language, but you will also have to ensure that the dub is synchronized with the original language, which makes the process more challenging than one might expect.  

It’s recommended to have experts who can assist with timing and who are able to ensure the dialogue is as close to the meaning of the original language as possible. 

Secondly, you’ll have to choose voice talent. There are typically voice actors who specialize in dubbing. This is ideal since they’ll understand the process more than someone who is inexperienced in the dubbing process. 

Next, you’ll have to go through the recording process. This step requires the most technical expertise in order to guarantee success.  You’ll need to book a professional recording studio with high-quality equipment. Many people are involved in this step including translation specialists, voice talent, and sound engineers. 

Finally, you’ll have to layer the new dubbed audio track into the video. For this, you’ll need both a sound and editing expert. We recommended hiring a professional.  

Dubbing can be quite an expensive process. According to Bunny Studio, a simple video can cost as much as $75 per minute. The more complex your video content is, the more you can expect to pay. With dubbing being such an intricate process, the costs make sense – especially if you decide to work with high-quality professionals. 

It’s important to note that you’ll want the dubbing process to be as successful as possible the first time around. If you have to book multiple sessions, it will cost more money, time, and effort since you essentially have to redo the recording, editing, and publishing processes. 

Lastly, when publishing dubbed video content, you want to make sure the vendor you work with either has a variety of file formats to download and/or is able to publish your content for you.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Organization

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So, where do you stand on the subtitling vs. dubbing argument? 

Whether your company decides to go with subtitling, dubbing, or a combination of the two, we believe it’s important to empower you with the most essential information to make an informed decision. 

3Play Media has provided thousands of our customers with high-quality, accurate translation and subtitling services. We offer video translation in over 40 languages, with customizable workflows and exceptional support. 

Additionally, our translations are done professionally by trained linguists, who accurately capture the cultural nuances of your foreign language video content. 

As a one-stop, full-service video accessibility company, we also offer closed captioning, live captioning, audio description, and transcription services. By working with 3Play, you’re able to use our translation and subtitling service as a seamless addition to your other video accessibility needs. 

Looking to get started with our translation service? Our team of experts is here to help! Discover why more than 5,000 of our customers put their trust in 3Play Media. 

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