Audiovisual Translation: Everything You Should Know

Dubbing of your audiovisual content in different languages

Today’s digital world relies heavily on video content, and audiovisual translation is a great way to reach an international audience. According to Cisco, 82% of consumer traffic will be made up of online videos in 2022—fifteen times more than in 2017! Visual material on the Internet can reel in a global audience for your brand, and translations can help you take advantage of it.

Take another example from Netflix, one of the world’s most comprehensive streaming platforms. In the first quarter of 2021, the site has amassed about 207.64 million paid subscribers. The market for audiovisual subtitling and dubbing is increasingly growing as many other platforms aim to bring video products to people worldwide.

Audiovisual translation: what is it?

Audiovisual translation or AVT refers to transferring the verbal components of one language into another, given that it is found in audiovisual products or works.

Some examples of audiovisual products include feature films, theatrical plays, television shows, opera, musicals, video games, and web pages, among others. These works are translated into different languages so that audiences can simultaneously watch and listen to the material in their mother language.

AVT aims to support internationalization, allowing content to be consumed by people across multiple countries. As the term suggests, AVT is designed to be heard and seen (audio and visual).

Characteristics of AVT

Specific attributes define audio-visual translation in detail.


AVT aims to support internationalization


Like other translation services, AVT requires a level of skill that allows speech to be transferred from the original language to another while preserving the context of the dialogue. A translator’s job is to have a clear grasp of both languages. This way, the character’s script is not disrupted by strange expressions or unreasonable translations that make the dialogue unnatural.

In this aspect, localization and cultural knowledge are a must. Professional translators need a better understanding of these concepts to deliver a proper final output.

Changing registers

Another reason that cultural knowledge plays a significant role in translating projects is because it is required to adapt to frequent register changes. Audiovisual products can range from horror films to children’s movies to documentaries, and each one begs to accommodate a variety of possible registers.

One of the things to look out for when hiring a quality translator is their knowledge of multicultural aspects, one of the critical elements in translation.

Subtitling vs. dubbing— which is better?



Subtitling is the process of placing written texts (subtitles) that shows in time with the original version of the dialogue. It usually appears at the bottom of the screen and contains the translated text, helping the viewer understand the scene.

The translation needs to match the visual element that the audience is seeing. It should be accurate in meaning and context. At the same time, the subtitle should fit the given space on the screen without blocking any crucial parts of the scene.

Subtitles are a great choice when learning a foreign language. The viewer hears the intonation and pronunciation of the spoken words while they read the translation in their native language. Also, subtitling helps people discover and understand foreign products like movies, commercial ads, and more.



Audiovisual translations may also be in the form of dubbing. This type of AVT lip-syncs the original text, wherein the original voice track of the source language (SL) is replaced with the voice track of the target language (TL).

The dubbing process was introduced in the 1930s, along with the launch of sound movies. A French cinema played the first American sound movie back then, but the audience complained that the characters didn’t speak French. However, it was expensive to re-film or have the cast speak the foreign language with bad accents and pronunciation.

In Italy and Spain, dubbing was also used during periods of dictatorship since it promoted “higher moral values” in dialogues.

Dubbing is ten times more costly than subtitling because it requires hiring many professionals such as voiceover artists, directors, linguists, etc. However, it removes the often-distracting written text on the screen, making it easier for the viewer to focus on the video itself.

What is localization?

Localization refers to the act of translating and adapting every element of video games, software, websites, and other audiovisual materials to deliver a product that is appropriate for the country or culture it is presented to.

For instance, an English saying like “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is easy to translate into different languages. However, the denotation, which is that a person should modify their behavior depending on the situation, might be lost in translation.

For this reason, the translator must be knowledgeable of the meaning behind such idioms and know a similar and acceptable translation in the target language.


The dubbing process was introduced in the 1930s, along with the launch of sound movies.

AVT for deaf people

Subtitling can be used to interpret audiovisual products for a hearing-impaired audience. It involves translating the description of sounds such as sighs within the dialogue. This way, the viewer can also understand the semi-verbal and non-verbal cues found in the content.

Final thoughts

AVT is the link that connects the global audience, making it easy for them to discover video content no matter where it’s from and what language it uses. It’s a unique translation service that only a professional translator with experience and in-depth knowledge of the field can perform.

You can count on Circle Translations to fulfill audiovisual translation projects successfully because our team has mastered the art of translation as a cultural process. If you’re looking for an expert translator, your search ends with us!