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There's long been a debate on which is better: subtitled or dubbed. While honestly that all just boils down to personal preference, we're going to talk today about the increased accessibility that dubbing brings to a project, and some of the things to consider when casting. Even though most people may associate dubbing with video games, TV shows, and movies, it can also be applied to things like training videos and other presentations. Basically it can be used for anything that was originally created to be in one language, but now has an audience that speaks a different language, as an alternative to using subtitles.

Certainly there are some people who, regardless of whether something is in their native language or not, prefer to have or even need to have subtitles or closed captions. That's why it's always important to keep that as an optional supplemental element when translating a project into a new language. On the flip side, though, there are people who may struggle with paying attention to and retaining the content of what's happening on the screen if they have to rely purely on reading subtitles. Not everyone has the same level of reading ability or speed, and so dubbing helps to make content far more accessible to them. It also helps them be able to focus entirely on what is happening and better retain the content if their attention isn't split between looking down to read words at the bottom of the screen and then back up to the action.

Deciding to offer a dubbed option is only the first step, and now you'll need to consider a few other things before you start casting. One of the biggest choices to make is whether to utilize accents. Whether it's in a piece of narrative media or a corporate presentation, accents can be used to denote the origin of the work, setting, or nationality of the business. But, are they necessary? That's entirely up to the creative team and what they feel works best. If it's an Italian company's video about its history, they may feel that something is lost if they have someone with an American or British accent dub it, versus someone dubbing it in English with an Italian accent. And if it's a narrative work like a show or movie, the creative team may decide that it retains an authentic feel if accents are kept even if the language is changed. For instance, the South Korean zombie-infested historical drama Kingdom was dubbed in Korean-accented English.

But accents aren't always necessary, and sometimes people even feel they may be too distracting (either for the audience or for the actor). While not a dub, the show Chernobyl made the choice to not have the actors take on Russian or Ukrainian accents because they worried they would be too preoccupied with trying to get it right and so not be able to fully focus on the range of acting needed. With dubs for narratives, many audiences also just accept that it's understood that all of the characters are from Country Y and thus really speaking Y's language, even though it's now been translated into and spoken with the audience's native language and accent. The video game Resident Evil Village takes place in a rural Romanian village, with really the only American character being the one controlled by the player, and yet the entire thing is dubbed in English with perfect American accents (for the American release, at least). Even so, the player still understands that this is Romania, the characters are Romanian, and likely everyone is really speaking Romanian (probably even the American). After all, it's also technically a Japanese-produced game, and it's doubtful that any of the original Japanese audience assumed that everyone in that Romanian village was speaking perfect, fluent Japanese.

Once the stylistic choice of accent or no accent is determined, then comes casting. We've talked before about accents and the pros and cons to hiring someone who's a native speaker to the accent versus someone who can do a fair impression. Some things to consider (if going with an accent) are fluency in the dubbed language and clarity of delivery. Think of a heavily-accented American trying to speak French, hitting sounds that should be silent and doing the “R” sounds all wrong. Just because the person technically understands French and can (kind of) communicate in it, it doesn't mean that a French audience will be able to clearly make out what that person is saying. So if an American company wants to have their video dubbed in French but retain some American feel, they could either ensure that the American voice actor they hire has clear pronunciation while speaking French, or they can see if a native French speaker can take on the affectation of a subtle American accent. But, if going without any accent, the only real concern is finding quality talent in the desired language.

Of course, as you should know by now, services like FlyVoiceovers is a valuable source in seeking global talent. We have a talent bank of folks from around the globe, making it easy to either find someone who can do an accent in a different language, or who can speak that other language with native fluency, so your dub can have the exact feel desired.

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