Voiceover Translation

A type of movie and TV series translation mostly used in Eastern Europe, sometimes called "Gavrilov translation". The original audio track is still audible (though quieter), and one, usually male actornote  reads translated lines over the original dialogue. The actor usually doesn't put much emotion into the performance so as not to distract.

The advantage of this translation is that it's much simpler and cheaper than dubbing, and still allows the audience to hear the original actors. However, things can get troublesome if multiple characters are speaking over each other. The translated lines and the original dialogue also tend to be very out of sync with each other, sometimes by several seconds.

Tends to sound very jarring and annoying to viewers used to dubbing. Conversely, dubbing may sound jarring to viewers used to hearing Voiceover Translation all their life; in Poland for example, dubbing is only used for kids' movies and considered childish in almost all contexts.

Almost always paired with Reading Foreign Signs Out Loud.

In Russia, the tradition may originate from closed-door screenings of Western hit movies for Soviet elite, where an interpreter provided real-time translation during the movie; Andrey Gavrilov was a prominent one. These interpreters later would lend their voices to pirate videocassettes of Western films.


  • News broadcasts will often translate the responses of interviewees by having the translator speak over the original person, often jumping in a second late so that it's audibly clear that the translation is not the original person's voice.
    • The English dub of the original Iron Chef does something similar — every person not speaking English is dubbed by a different actor, but the timing is just off enough to remind you that this is a dub. Chairman Kaga is a special case, in that he only received a dub actor when the US distributors couldn't get the rights for some of the music playing under his narration.
  • Bulgarian TV also uses this a lot, but usually with no less than four voiceover actors.
  • Similarly, the Canadian channel Musique Plus uses this with some of their reality shows. Lowered original vocal track, but different actors dubbing over the top instead of just one.
  • Some Latin American studios dub foreign reality shows and documentaries this way.
  • Something similar happens in Spain, where dubbing is customary for all TV. In documentaries, narrators are dubbed, but whenever someone is interviewed, a voiceover is used. This also happens when translating a certain kind of program (Love It Or List It, Dog Whisperer).
  • Used widely in Polish TV, though very rarely on channels aimed at teenagers and children (though, as late as the early 2000s, it could be also heard there).
  • Also used in Russian cable television (and, of course, pirate videocassettes).
  • Used when translating the Live Action TV series and movies based on Astrid Lindgren's books from Swedish to Danish, though recently they have been dubbed - which sounds weird to all the people who've grown up with the voiceover.
  • Infamous in the Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water anime where the original Streamline dub had Carl Macek personally doing a voiceover over the original opening voiceover (because he couldn't get the materials to dub that section).
  • The Polish version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., perhaps the only video game to use this.
  • The movie adaptation of With Fire and Sword uses this for characters speaking Ukrainian.
  • YLE, the Finnish national broadcaster, used to do this for children's shows in the 1980s. The translation combined third-person narration with occasional character voices, all done by a single narrator.
  • Used in the Communist propaganda film I Am Cuba, which takes place in Cuba. The film was made by Russians, but all of the dialogue is spoken in Spanish and English, depending on the character. A male voice translates all of the dialogue and the Spanish narration into Russian.
  • Used in the Russian dub of Disney's Marsupilami, which kept the original English soundtrack.
  • The US release of Otaku no Video featured subtitles of the original Japanese, extending to subtitling the Japanese Voiceover Translation of an interview with a person speaking English. Presuming that the subtitles are accurate, however, they clearly do not match up with what the English speaker is saying, making him out to be far more of a weeaboo than his answers would suggest.
  • Parodied on the Strong Bad Email "other days" when Strong Bad checks an email from a Polish fan. A voiceover in Polish translates his speech.

Alternative Title(s):

Gavrilov Translation