Dubbing in South Africa

Challenges of building a dubbing studio in Johannesburg.

Welcome to CustomerZero.

This is an example of the kind of article I’ll be publishing each month. This particular example is one of our first customers at FastDub

I try not to suggest any particular solution, my goal is to expose a problem space and an initial customer that’s willing to adopt your product.

Dubber is a pseudonym. If you’d like to get an introduction to the real business described, reach out at jibril.gudal@gmail.com



The global film dubbing industry generated $2.7B in 2019.

Dubbing is the process used to localise video content to specific regions.

This is what happens when an Avengers movie is screened in South Africa. The studio typically hires a few Afrikaans voice-actors to voice over Iron-Man/Hulk etc.

In some countries due to low literacy rates, subtitling isn’t a viable option if you want to screen a foreign movie.


A few weeks ago we spoke with Dubber.

Dubber operates one of the leading dubbing studios in Africa.

They started over a decade ago and now deal with more than 15,000 mins of content a month. They work with all the big TV/Movie studios including Disney and Netflix.

The Process

For a 2 hour movie, their process of completing a dubbing project involves:

  1. The studio first receives a script in English and the Movie file.

  2. Their first task is to translate this script into the target language (typically Swahili).

  3. Dubber then sources voice actors that are native speakers in the required language.

  4. These voice actors must live near one of their 18 studios, since the recordings are carried out in person.

  5. The recordings are carried out over a number of weeks.

  6. The recordings must be timed to match the scenes being dubbed.

  7. Finally the recorded audio is sent to one of their quality-control studios to ensure a high-quality output.

The Problems

  1. It typically costs Dubber $15 to generate 1 minute of usable speech!

  2. The requirement for in-person studio recording constrains the number of available voice actors severely. In the cases of particularly rare languages, this can even lead to hiring untrained refugees to carry out these recordings.

  3. It takes a number of weeks to complete the recording, this is paced so that the voice-actor isn’t worn out.

Dubber is looking to partner with a startup to determine if some of their processes can be made more efficient and scaleable.

Reach me at jibril.gudal@gmail.com to get an intro!

Good luck building!