You’ve seen them in movies, shows, commercials—even your phone’s hold music: disembodied voices that add character and context to what you’re watching or listening to. They’re called voice over, and they’re a crucial part of any piece of media that requires narration or commentary. Whether you’re looking to pursue a career in voice over or just want to learn more about how it works, here’s what you need to know.
A professional voice actor or talent is someone who can perform a wide range of roles and characters with the power, clarity, and emotion to engage audiences. They typically record their work in a studio (though some do it at home with free or low-cost software like Adobe Audition or Ocenaudio) to get the best quality and most natural sound. While a good voice is the essential skill, it’s also important to practice with different accents and even character voices.
The most successful voice actors can often read the script while imagining themselves in the role and what kind of impression they want to make on the audience. This is important because it can help you avoid a voice that sounds too “robotic,” which can be distracting and off-putting. It can also help you avoid pacing that’s too slow, which can seem monotonous and boring. In addition to the pacing, it’s important to make sure your pronunciation is clear and accurate. Regional accents and idioms are perfectly fine, but you don’t want to pronounce certain words too differently. This can be confusing for your audience, especially if they’re from other parts of the country or world.
Many people do voice overs as a hobby or to supplement their income, but you can also find professional voice-over work in film, television, radio, podcasts, and video games. Getting these gigs, though, is more about networking and impressing clients than it is a particular set of skills or equipment.
If you’re looking to become a professional voice-over artist, it’s important to invest in the right equipment to start out. A decent microphone will do the trick for most projects, but you should look into purchasing a good digital audio interface or studio recording software such as Audiate. The latter will allow you to edit your recordings to remove background noise, humming, and other errors before submitting them as an audition or finished project for a client.
You’ll also want to practice your voice and diction with a variety of scripts before you attend any live auditions. It’s a good idea to warm up by reading the sides or script before your actual voice-over, drink plenty of water, and try out a few different accents or characters while you record. It’s also important to treat an audition just as you would any other job interview. Arrive on time, dress professionally, and take the opportunity to network with other professionals in the industry. This can be invaluable in advancing your career. voice over