Re-creation and dubbing

When you want to offer a more immersive localized multimedia experience than can be achieved with captioning and subtitling, you need to choose between dubbing and full re-creation.


Dubbing can be thought of as partial re-creation. It replaces the source language dialog track with newly recorded dialog in the target language. Dubbing starts with translating the script, paying attention to the cultural differences that should always be considered when localizing (references, idioms, symbolic meanings, taboos, and so on). The translation also needs to sound like natural dialog in the target language. This might require a dialog specialist to work alongside the translator or to edit the translated script. They can, for example, check that mouth movements are as close to the original actor as possible when the translated lines are spoken and the speaker is visible.

After you have a script, you need to cast voice actors. In addition to their acting skills they need to have good timing to match the rhythm of the original dialog. They also need to have a voice that fits the original actor and the character. The viewers need to believe that what they hear could come from the person they see on the screen.

Finally, there is the process of recording the translated dialog with each voice actor. The dialog specialist might be on hand at this stage too. They can check that the dialog is acted out the way it was intended to, and help the actors with their questions about tone, emphasis, and so on.

You might also consider using computer-generated voices instead of or alongside voice actors. Text-to-speech (TTS) solutions are improving constantly but might not match the naturalness of human voices.


The scope of re-creation can vary depending on your content and needs. It can start with using your existing assets and footage for editing a new version, which would then be dubbed as described above. But re-creation can also go much further, all the way to essentially creating completely new content to achieve the goal of your original version in a new culture.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Voice/dialog: These considerations are very similar to dubbing, discussed above.
  • On-screen text: You might want to replace any text displayed in your content with localized text. This could require shooting some new footage, or it could be done digitally.
  • On-screen products: If you show your product in your content, you will probably want to show the localized version of the product if one exists. This will likely require reshoots, especially if actors are seen handling the product.
  • Cultural adaptation: This is the area that can potentially go furthest, be the most expensive, and be the most rewarding for the target audience. You could recast everyone appearing on-screen with native actors from the target culture. The re-created version could also be filmed in an environment that looks familiar to viewers in the target culture (rooms, cities, landscape, landmarks, and so on). And you should take great care to avoid cultural confusion or offense that might be caused by humor, idioms, gendered language, and so on.

Re-creation of your multimedia content is costlier than dubbing or subtitling and needs to be skillfully done to deliver your content’s intent and tone in a way the target audience can understand and appreciate. But it can achieve an emotional impact that is not possible by other localization methods. Re-creation tends to be used mostly for high-value, critical content such as commercials and other marketing.