Producers and project managers are always on the lookout for talent in the form of voice over acting. When they need a narrator or character voice, they search for a voice-over artist who they think will make a good match for the character in their film, video, or web series or “webisode.” For those familiar with YouTube characters, “Annoying Orange” is an example of a web series.
What is voice over or voice over acting?
Like a stage performer or television actor, voice acting is the art of performing voice overs or basically lending their voice to the character. This form of acting is done behind the scenes and only the voice is used so the voice over artist is never shown on camera. Their voices bring the character to life and somehow their personality shines through even though they are never seen.
The History of Voice Acting
The very first recorded voice-over happened at Christmas in 1906 and was a radio broadcast made to all the ships at sea. Reginald Fessenden made a short speech while reporting the weather during a test for the United States Weather Bureau.
When Did Voice Acting Begin?
Voice acting has been around a lot longer than most people realize. Most people know off-hand and can name at least 5 voice-over artists from popular Saturday morning cartoon shows, but in the early days before television, there were radio shows. It was known as the Golden Age of Radio and began in the 1920s and ran until the 1950s.
Voice actors performed radio plays, soap operas, quiz, and mystery shows. It was common for a manufacturer to sponsor radio shows like the “Champion Spark Plug Hour” “The Voice of Firestone,” and some soap companies. One of the most well-known radio shows was “The War of the Worlds (1938)” narrated by Orson Welles.
Examples of Well-Known Voice Actors
- Walt Disney - Walt Disney Studios
- Mel Blanc - Bugs Bunny (also known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices,”)
- James Earl Jones - Mufasa (The Lion King)
- Frank Welker - Fred Jones (Scooby Doo)
- Messick - Scooby Doo (Scooby Doo)
- Casey Kasem - Shaggy (Scooby Doo)
- Grey DeLisle - Daphne Blake (Scooby Doo)
- Alan Reed - Fred Flintstone
- Tress MacNeille - Daisy Duck (Duck Tales)
- Tara Strong - Raven (Teen Titans)
- Tom Kenny - Spongebob Squarepants
- Bill Fagerbakke - Patrick Starr (Spongebob Squarepants)
- Dane Boedigheimer - Annoying Orange/Pear
These are just a handful of people who lend their voices to the characters we love in animated films and cartoon shows. Many of the people listed here voice many different characters and started out as film or television actors before being chosen for their current roles. Casey Kasem was a well-known DJ and host of “America's Weekly Top 40” as well as being the voice of Scooby Doo’s best pal Shaggy Rogers.
What is the role of a voice over artist?
Television actors rely on facial expressions, body positions, and physical comedy to bring their character to life on the screen. Since voice actors perform their scenes in a recording booth, they must use the tone of their voice and inflection to show excitement, sadness, or any range of emotions that the character would display if they were being filmed. Their job is to be the voice of a character that will be added to the film at a later time. They have a script to memorize for each episode and may work with other actors during the recording.
Projects Typically Needing Voice Over Actors
Voice over acting is often used in animated films, animated shorts, foreign language films, commercials, radio shows, television shows, video games, audiobooks, and radio advertisements. They may voice a character or function as a narrator or announcer.
What Skills are Used for Voice Overs?
Basically a voice actor is the same as any other performer. They learn to use their voice for expression, to speak with an accent, sometimes even in another language (Spanish voice over artists) or play characters who are very young (children). They spend years learning and perfecting their craft the same way that television and film actors do.
Many agencies may not be aware, but although Spanish is a national language, it has different dialects depending on the country. There are actually 6 different Spanish dialects around the world.
Voice Acting Requirements:
- Basic acting skills - must have the ability to assume any character
- Formal training or acting coach - schools with a performing arts program often offer classes in voice acting.
- A clear speaking voice.
- The ability to do a “cold reading” having never seen the script and no time to memorize.
- The ability to sound like you know what you’re talking about when voicing a part.
- Consistency in volume, pacing, and articulation.
- Have on-camera or theatrical experience.
Why You May Need a Voice Over for Your Webisode or Explainer Video
Narrating a video is not as easy as you might think. There are the timing and speed of the video as well as clearly explaining the points of the video without sounding like you just ran the Boston marathon..
A professional voice over artist is confident and delivers the message in a concise, easy to understand manner. They can slow down their speaking or speed up to keep pace with the video without tripping over their tongue.
Another benefit is that they often have their own studio and recording equipment making it easy and convenient to work with them. After the recording is processed and edited, the files can be delivered by electronic mail speeding up the waiting time.
Modern-day Voice Acting
A voice over actor can enhance your video project and help accentuate the benefits of your product or service. As professionals, they will work very closely with you to create the character and give it a unique voice.
Now, more than ever, people are finding new ways to get their message out to a larger audience. Hiring a professional for voice acting is a great way to get started on delivering high-quality video and audio content to promote your business.
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