Voice acting is an art all of its own. You know those people with voices that flow like a serene bubbling brook or maybe have that all-encompassing power that makes you stop and listen? Those are the voices that make for great voice acting, but so are the ones that make us laugh, that have great dialects, or take us to another world. And don’t forget the everyday voices of voice actors of every age, gender, ethnicity…voice acting has come a long way and we don’t think it’s going anywhere according to the trends in voice acting.
How about a quick overview of voice acting
First, let’s talk about some other names for voice acting. From our article, A Short Guide to Voice Over Basics, we can see that there are a few different terms people use. Some are truly interchangeable, some have subtly different meanings. So we’ve got voice actors, voice-over announcers, voice-over narrators, and voice-over artists.
There are niches where these artists will work. For instance, a voice actor can take on almost any project but also can use “different” voices to act as characters or representations. They work in video games, animation, TV cartoons, audiobooks, dubbing, commercials, radio work, and pretty much anytime a voice is needed. Reading and interpreting scripts is a big part of their work.
On the other hand, a voice-over announcer or narrator has a more specific field. They may not be as adept at taking on other voices. These voices may be those strong, lovely voices we love to hear, but they may not be as versatile or as creative. Think about it, every animation and cartoon, every audio book, every radio commercial has a voice actor behind it.
A good voice actor can take on different dialects, genders, ages, ethnicities, whatever they need to represent a certain character. They may switch voices through a project. Here’s one to consider, maybe a voice actor is voicing Little Red Riding Hood. The one voice actor can take on the big bad wold, Grandma, the huntsman, and Little Red Riding Hood. Most of these professionals have lots of skills to deliver!
Current trends in voice acting
We know voice acting has been around for quite some time. Think back to an early cartoon, like Mickey Mouse. That was voice acting. Sure, it’s come a long way, but it’s still around and is basically the same thing. With technology, we’ve seen vast improvements, but the bottom line is actors take on roles to portray with their voices.
But let’s check out where the experts think it’s going:
- Realistic and natural reads are in demand. This includes the conversational and diverse voices we are seeing more and more of. With the reach for diversity acceptance and awareness, this is a great venue to implement it. People are appreciating natural and genuine voices in voice acting.
- One of the other trends in voice acting is the rise in e-learning. This demands more and more voice actors to deliver the material. Because people want fun and engaging e-learning, they are seeking good voice actors to deliver it. And again, this is a great venue for diverse voices.
- Voice overs and voice acting for marketing purposes is another trend. 2020 saw a big rise in here, and experts expect it to keep going. Combining voice acting and branding creates an agile market that can be consistent and effective.
Clearly, the trend of voice acting is not going anywhere and the need for more diverse, representative, genuine, and empathetic characters is on the rise.
Areas using voice acting
Another of the trends in voice acting that we are seeing is that more and more platforms are using voice acting as a medium. We often think of voice acting in animation, you know the awesome Disney voices or maybe the cartoons and other animated shows we love. But it goes far beyond this. One area we are seeing a huge rise in voice acting is the audio book industry. We have mentioned this already, but let’s take a closer look.
Trends show that by creating an audio book to supplement your original book, you can augment the original and add a new dimension. Look at the Harry Potter series, for instance. We know this is, for sure, a unique example, but there are people who love the audio book as much as reading the actual book. And there are people who can’t get enough so they listen even though they’ve read the books already. Don’t forget those who don’t have time to sit down to read the seven volumes of Harry Potter so they choose to listen. And the voice! In America, we have Jim Dale and Stephen Fry narrates in the UK.
Wait, it’s so much more than narrating. Jim Dale and Stephen Fry both use their amazing voices to create the beloved characters in this universe. Their voices also add to the setting of the story and make Hogwarts come alive. That is the goal of a good voice actor – to make the book come alive, to make it magical. So with the trend of audio books on the rise, the trend of voice actors reading them is on the rise, too.
Video games are also seeing a surge and with this is the surge of voice actors. Finding the right voice actor for a video game can often be a challenge, and now, more than ever, we do need just the right voices. Female and nongender-specific characters are making more impact in video games, and they need voices that depict who they are. They’re no longer background or side characters, so having strong, diverse voices for these characters is important. Also, more and more girls and women are playing video games, so they need those characters to connect with. Again, it goes to that connection of characters and the growing need for diverse, empathetic, and connectable voices.
Audio advertising offers flexibility when it comes to reach, target audience, and personalization, and is reaching into both digital and radio platforms. The audio industry is growing as we see from listening platforms like Spotify and podcasts. Spending here continues to increase, as does the need for voice actors.
Even though commute time may not be what it was a couple of years ago, it should be picking back up as we move forward from 2020 and 2021. And though people weren’t in their cars as much in the past year, they were still certainly listening to audio media. The trend of podcasts is continually rising, and there’s big advertising there. Often the host does do the advertising, but there is also room for voice acting. Podcasts not only use voice actors occasionally for advertising, but also for their intros and outros.
Skills of a great voice actor
We think of voice actors and those smooth voices, like Morgan Freeman. Who doesn’t want to listen to him all day? But there’s a wide range of voice actors, and not all of them are meant to be so appealing. Think about it – for every type of role – there’s a need for a voice actor because of animation and audio books. And the more versatile a voice actor is, the more in demand they probably are.
Back to our Harry Potter audiobook narrators…these two voice actors have the ability to create voices for a multitude of characters, from Harry to Snape to Professor McGonagall and Dobby. Instead of using different actors to create different voices, the same voices use talent to create them all. This is one of the big trends in voice acting. So the more voices, the more marketable the actor is.
Also, for an audio book or other character work, a voice actor needs to not only be able to speak in a particular voice, but it needs to capture the character. From inflection to dialect to cadence, the voice represents the character. How different would Homer Simpson be if he had a different voice? The voice actor, just like any actor, needs to understand the character of their role. They also need to know the purpose and the audience for the greatest appeal.
Hiring voice actors
If you are looking to hire a voice actor, think about what voice you want and need. The more you can share about your project, the better the voice can represent it. For example, if you’re looking to hire a voice for e-learning, think about your audience. You want the voice actor to appeal and connect with that particular audience. And with the trend in e-learning, it’s a great place to be.
If you are working with a service like Bunny Studio, make sure to share as many details as you can. Sure, you can tell us you’d like a male, middle-aged voice, but if you tell us you want an Italian, male, middle-aged voice for presentations, you’ll get a better fit. Check out some samples and see what fits your project the best. Remember, too, it’s not just your project itself, but where it’s going to be and who is going to be engaging with it. So if this presentation is a video with a voice-over for a yoga retreat, find a compatible voice. On the other hand, if it’s a recording to go with a written presentation for car sales, you may need a very different Italian, middle-aged, male voice.
We can help!
Here at Bunny Studio, we pride ourselves on the diversity and quality of our voice actors. They all have samples, and you can check out client reviews. This is an important part of choosing any voice actor. Remember the trend is on the rise, and if you have a product, a service, a public announcement, or a piece of entertainment, you may be looking for a voice actor. We’d love for you to submit your voice project so we can help with our talented voice actors. We can’t wait to hear all about it!