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An unseen person speaking for a visible character in an animation, video clip or a person simply narrating over visual content, is a voice over (VO) talent or artiste.
Voiceovers, though most easily explained by referring to voices in radio spots, are not just for ads, but also audio books, animations, corporate videos, games and much more! The work of a voiceover artiste may be regarded as overrated and peculiar by those not privy to the process of recording talents in a studio.
However, the world is oblivious to the trials and triumphs faced by these talents.
So, I dedicate this list of particular experiences, to all practicing and aspiring talents! I just want to say, “I see you!”.
If you are in the voiceover industry today, chances are, you grew up mimicking cartoons, comedies and musicals, watching them over and over again. Some people even thought you’d lost your mind.
But hey, here you are, making it a career and all. So, yeah.
If you’re bilingual or multilingual, the experience of mimicking just grew exponentially for you!
If you were a Gen X kid, Duck Tales, Thundercats and Dungeons & Dragons, may have been your first teachers. Gen Y kids rolled with Spongebob Squarepants, Rugrats and Dora The Explorer. The Simpsons and Lion King crossed over both generations. You experimented with voice ranges, practiced slang words and mimicked accents, including sound effects! All by replaying each clip a gazillion times. You still do. Don’t worry, other voiceover talents feel ya!
As fun or amusing as your talent is to onlookers and listeners, you take your repertoire seriously. You’ve practiced in front the mirror or recorded your voice …
times, trying to sound like The Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins or whoever you sought to be for a gig. So, nowadays, whenever a visiting (or drunk!) relative walks up to you and irreverently demands “a Smurfette” like it were a party trick, you smile, grit your teeth and imagine giving him a wedgie.
In the more challenging voice projects, delivery aspects of tone, expression, intonation, accent and styles recorded in a studio today, stand on the shoulders of all your past failures – and successes.
The best in the field don’t wing it, because only good jobs beget other good jobs. You know this.
Not all voicing projects are created equal. You are aware that contrary to how some people perceive doing voiceovers, you do not just record in 30 seconds and laugh all the way to the bank.
VO jobs come in all shapes, lengths and sizes. Some jobs are long, tedious, take research and experimenting – for instance if you’re recording an animated character or in a language that requires you to know vowels and consonants yet to be used in all the cartoons you ever consumed.
Other jobs are simpler; You’re done and dusted in a couple of takes. Whatever the case, you’re always ready to retake that line on cue, until it is just right.
Listening is part of voicing. So, you are sensitive through talent or training, to miniscule sounds. In any case, you may have often caught tiny rasps or pops which everyone else missed during your recording.
There are times you have been fully aware that you were a nightmare in a studio if others there with you at your recording session, are not as blessed as you who has an astute sense of hearing. You are also weary that an analysis of Yanny-Laurel proportions could ensue if you alert an otherwise oblivious posse, to a rasp they never picked up. So, an ancillary skill you’ve acquired is picking your battles wisely in a studio.
Having said that, there is something ethereal about that combo – your voice, the headphones, good acoustics and the ambience of a studio; When you hear the final product played back to you and it sounds perfect, the whole world lights up for you. That, combined with a glint of satisfaction in a client’s eyes, is when you realise that you’ve channelled your inner Beyonce at a recording session.
*** Cover image sourced from Panda Voice Over.
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