The Dubbing Database

A stock image of a person recording a voice-over. It may represent the act of recording a voice-over translation, for instance.

Voice-over translation, or known as just a voice-over, is an audiovisual translation technique in which, unlike in dubbing, actor voices are recorded over the original audio track which can be heard in the background. This method of translation is most often used in documentaries, news reports and other unscripted series such as reality shows to translate the words of foreign-language speakers in countries where subtitling is not necessarily the norm.

However, it is also commonly used to translate scripted foreign-language films and television programs in some countries, most notably in Poland, Bulgaria, former Soviet republics (e.g. Russia, Ukraine, Baltic states, Georgia and CIS countries), Mongolia, and Vietnam. Voice-over translation in this case is largely limited to television channels, home video releases and streaming services, and seldom sees use in theatrically released films; Poland for instance generally uses subtitles instead for the lattermost category, while Russia and Ukraine largely use full dubbing for theatrical releases instead.

In voice-over countries, the preferred voice-over method depends on the country: Poland for instance generally opts for a single-voice translation most of the time (generally known as lektor), in which a single voice (typically a deep male) reads a simplified translation of character dialogue in a neutral, emotionless narrator voice after a noticeable delay while the original audio is still audible in the background; Bulgaria, on the other hand, instead uses a multi-voice method much closer to full dubbing, with multiple professional voice actors who attempt to match the original dialogue's intonation and whose voices are less delayed from the original audio in comparison to the Polish method; and ex-Soviet countries are generally more varied, with both single-voice and multi-voice translations being used depending on the program/film in question and the distribution medium in use, and there may or may not be an attempt to match the original intonation. Despite this, some of the aforementioned countries where voice-over translations are commonly used (namely Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria) do frequently use full dubbing (with Bulgaria also frequently using subtitling as well) instead depending on the program/film in question.