Dubbing exercise tutorial

In dubbing exercises, the learners pick a character or role of the exercise and dub their part. Learners must speak at the same speed the character does, so this kind of exercise is an entertaining way of practising the fluency, the intonation and dramatization. In this example we are going to use an excerpt of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 short animation film Sintel by the Blender Foundation.

Resource gathering stage

The resource gathering for dubbing exercises can be done either by picking a video from Vimeo or another video repository and cutting it to match your needs or developing a short script that has to do with everyday life situations and enacting it yourself with some of your colleagues. For this example we downloaded the HD 720p (~600MB, MKV, 5.1) option. We also downloaded the English subtitle file to use it as a reference in the interaction definition stage.

Download movie file
Download english subtitle file

Video creation stage

Slicing the original video to keep just an excerpt

The characters don’t speak in most of the film so we are going to pick just an excerpt of about 30 seconds where Sintel and the shaman are discussing her quest. The scene takes place from 02:06.416 to 02:42.125 (frames 3034 to 3891).

Exporting the video project

After selecting the scene we wanted to keep, we encoded it using the following settings:

  • Video codec: x264/H264/AVC with a bitrate of 15000kbps to keep a good quality. Other options could be choosing a High Profile, setting multiple pass encoding…
  • Audio codec: AAC, 128kbps bitrate, Dynamic Range Compression to boost the volume of the dialogue and Stereo channels (we don’t need 5.1 channels for our purposes).
  • Media container: MP4

You can see the excerpt below:

You can download the excerpt here: Sintel excerpt

Interaction definition stage

You can use the English subtitles we downloaded in the resource gathering stage just for reference or make some adjustments to it in order to get the timestamps of the dialogue lines. In the following table you can see the lines of our excerpt in the original subtitle file and the lines adjusted to our excerpt. We deleted the lines that were not part of the excerpt, changed their numbering and subtracted 02:06.416 from all the timestamps to keep the new subtitles synchronized.

Original dialogue lines Excerpt dialogue lines
00:02:07,500 –> 00:02:09,000
00:02:09,400 –> 00:02:13,800
What brings you to
the land of the gatekeepers?8
00:02:15,000 –> 00:02:17,500
I’m searching for someone.

00:02:18,000 –> 00:02:22,200
Someone very dear?
A kindred spirit?

00:02:23,400 –> 00:02:25,000
A dragon.

00:02:28,850 –> 00:02:31,750
A dangerous quest for a lone hunter.

00:02:32,950 –> 00:02:35,870
I’ve been alone for
as long as I can remember.

00:00:01,084 –> 00:00:02,584
00:00:02,984 –> 00:00:07,384
What brings you to
the land of the gatekeepers?3
00:00:08,584 –> 00:00:11,084
I’m searching for someone.

00:00:11,584 –> 00:00:15,784
Someone very dear?
A kindred spirit?

00:00:16,984 –> 00:00:18,584
A dragon.

00:00:22,434 –> 00:00:25,334
A dangerous quest for a lone hunter.

00:00:26,534 –> 00:00:29,454
I’ve been alone for
as long as I can remember.

It should be noted that we didn’t do this by hand. There are several free programs available that can help you to make subtitle adjustments. These are some of them:

Platform Software


Subtitle Edit: http://www.nikse.dk/SubtitleEdit

Subtitle Workshop: http://subworkshop.sourceforge.net/


Subtitle Editor: http://home.gna.org/subtitleeditor/

Gnome Subtitles: http://gnomesubtitles.org/


Jubler: http://www.jubler.org/download.html

After adding the subtitle lines and defining the character/role that speaks on each line we have the following final interaction table:


After Publishing and confirming the subtitles cover the entirety of the video we can go to the practice section to check if everything works as expected.

Dubbing exercises are probably the most time consuming exercises you can make, because they involve a lot of steps. But, on the upside, they usually are the ones that students enjoy the most.