Generating Spanish-language assets with Spanish speaking talent is not always an option due to budgetary concerns. Yet, providing a Spanish speaking option for your Hispanic audience through the use of high quality dubbing can be.

By providing a Spanish language version, you are able to more successfully hit your target audience. Although this can be a risky option, if done well, the pay-off is a valuable alternative.

Agua often recommends using high quality dubbing when Spanish-speaking talent is not available. It can be an efficient way to update your previously produced assets. It will also allow you to use your assets in places where closed-captioning is not allowed (which is not effective with some Spanish audiences anyway).

When Spanish-speaking audiences watch movies that are well dubbed, they get into the movie, and the fact that the movie’s original language is different becomes irrelevant.

Some examples of good lip-synch dubbing include Top Gun and Tombstone. Additionally, The Little Mermaid offers a good animated option. This is not only to contrast it with the usually badly dubbed Japanese anime, but also to show a full adaptation, including the words on a song.

US Hispanics and Dubbed Materials:

Dubbing is a viable alternative for generating Spanish-language assets. Hispanic consumers will connect with the dubbed piece. For US Hispanic audiences, it’s very important for the voice talent to have a neutral Latin American accent.

Spanish is one of the few languages that require you to address the linguistic elements that vary according to the intended target country.* For example, peninsular (from Spain) or Rioplatense (Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay) variants would not resonate with the some audiences and may even generate negative reactions and sharp critiques.

Agua has found that most unacculturated Latinos are accustomed to viewing dubbed entertainment. In fact, it is overwhelmingly preferred to subtitling. Many times, dubbing involves fully adapting the content: from changing the names of the characters, to singing a song in the target language and adding language-relevant lines or jokes.

Spanish-speakers get used to the dubbed voice of the characters and “attach” it to the on-screen persona. In fact, it is always quite strange the first time you hear the “original” English voice of your favorite characters!

Lip-Synch Dubbing: Best Practices

  • Lip-Sync dubbing is the replacement of the original voice track in synchronization with the lip movement of the on-camera talent.
  • Good quality dubbing is not easy – successful dubbing projects may require a “director” (native speaker of the target language) to manage the project.
  • Target text should roughly be the same length than the original.
  • Number of syllables must be the same in both languages.
  • Rhythm (delivery/pauses) of the source script must be matched in the target-language script.
  • Words beginning with letters that need obvious mouth movements (O, A, M, P, S, T and R) must be matched to improve the fit of sounds and visual.

 Agua recommends the following process for producing dubbed materials:

  1. Translation: A raw Spanish-language version of the copy.
  2. Transcreation: reflect how the casted talent would say things, including relevant words or expressions.
  3. Adaptation: make sure the phrases mirror the speech patterns of the on-camera latent.
  4. Talent casting: close-sounding voice, close to tone / timbre of original talent’s voice, with a neutral accent. Dubbing experience is strongly recommended.
  5. Recording: Focus on the main goal of language replacement: detailed synchronization and believability are key.

For assistance with your dubbing dilemma, contact Agua.


* Other languages with this requirement include French, Portuguese and Chinese.