What do Tom Hanks, Tina Fey, and Morgan Freeman have in common? They’re all voice artists. If you think you have a naturally great voice, you may want to consider working as a voice artist. If so, you should learn more about voice-over requirements.
Voice-over is a production process and technique in which a voice is used for theater, television, films and other modes of media. This process involves someone reading from a script and is usually pre-recorded. There are specific voice-over requirements that qualify individuals for these tasks. Of course, one of the essential factors is that you must read in a loud and clear voice. And you must be able to adapt your voice to the task at hand without prior preparation in some instances. A wide range of voice production is often needed, as demands for jobs often differ. You must also have an impressive demo reel to showcase your talents. Another requirement is that you must have the necessary equipment to produce quality work.
Voice-over talents need a smooth and attractive voice. If you are lucky enough to have this kind of voice, you can enjoy flexible work hours and a rewarding career as a voice over talent.
If you are thinking about starting your journey in this industry, checking out the voice-over requirements is something you need to do. Just like any other job, you need to practice and hone your skills before you can kickstart your career.
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This post has been updated in August 2021.
What Is Voice-Over?
You may already have a rough idea of what voice-over is. But before you learn the voice-over requirements, you need to have a clear picture of what the job entails.
Voice-overs have become popular since they are a vital part of documentaries, announcements, gaming, and applications. Because of this, there is a wide array of job opportunities for people who have completed their voice-over requirements.
Many voice artists started in this field without any professional qualifications. But because it is now more competitive than ever, you need to elevate your game to get noticed today.
Salary of a Voice-over Talent
The average salary of a voice-over artist depends on their skill and experience. For example, you can’t expect an established talent to charge the same as someone who just started taking voice-over projects.
Usually, talents can make from $20 up to $100 or more per hour of work. Other factors that affect how much you get paid include the type of work and the size of the project.
Keep in mind that, unlike other workers, voice-over talents rely on their voice as their competitive tool. Unlike computers that can be used all day, the human voice is sensitive and needs time to rest to ensure that the vocal cords remain in excellent condition. Meaning, working four hours per day may be too strenuous for some voice artists, especially if they are using their full range of voice.
Roles of a Voice over Talent
As communication developed, voice acting has created many opportunities, especially in radio. Companies are always on the lookout for talented individuals committed to lending their voice to characters. Gone are the days when the only voice artists were classically trained professional actors looking for ways to earn extra money.
A voice talent needs to master the art of doing voice overs, no matter what the audio work entails. When learning about the voice over requirements, remember that this is an all-encompassing and versatile industry.
For example, voice over announcers usually work on segments of television and radio broadcasts. These people are also in demand for sporting events and talk shows. Another kind of voice over talent is narrators, whose bread and butter are explainer videos, tour guides, and audiobooks. One more category is voiceovers for emotional videos where motivational voice over, dreamy voice over, or caring voice over is needed.
Some voice talents become voice actors and specialize in performing in animated films, radio dramas, or video games. Of course, these jobs can also overlap for a single voiceover artist.
Here are the major functions of voice over talents.
Voice talents read aloud a pre-written script that is usually meant to overlay with a video or provide the background to an event. Because of this, a clear speaking voice is one of the essential voice over requirements. This way, you can bring life to the script that you didn’t write yourself.
Companies expect voice over talents to employ their acting techniques to give life and emotion to the script. For example, a voice for a public service announcement will differ from that of a foreign language drama dub in terms of intonation and nuance. A voice over talent needs to have the skill to convey their emotion and message through their tenor and tone of voice.
Craft a persuasive voice for the narrative
You may never have seen him, but you’ve heard the voice of Don LaFontaine. He was labeled as the voice of his generation thanks to the countless advertisements and trailers he narrated, including The Terminator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, and thousands more. This iconic voice talent is one of the most successful artists to date because he is a master at crafting a voice for his clients.
This skill is something every newbie should master since they are expected to have a distinctive voice when they read a script. For instance, commercial work may require them to help with branding companies or products.
Create different versions
One of the duties of voice-over talents is to create multiple versions of a certain script. The alternate versions are needed by directors to see which narration suits the video best. They have to be versatile enough to give several variations by changing their emphasis, tone, and character, even if it’s very subtle, a small variation can change the whole meaning of a sentence.
Becoming a Voice over Talent: Voice-over Requirements
Now that you know the roles of voice talents, it is time to look at voice-over requirements.
1- Reading clear and loud
How can you become a voice talent artist if your voice lacks clarity? A requirement is that you need to pronounce language clearly. So voice-over talent must not swallow their words, and they must have clear diction and must not mumble.
If you lack this quality, don’t worry. You just need to dedicate time and effort when practicing with or without a coach. And you need to practice reading aloud to make yourself comfortable. You can do this with books, magazines, and even newspaper articles. You must also record your voice to hear what you sound like. Note what needs to be improved and make changes as needed.
Although there are no educational requirements needed to become a voice artist, you can still take voice lessons and acting courses.
2- Cold reading skills
Sometimes, you won’t have the luxury of time to practice reading the script in advance. Some scripts are also too time-consuming to practice in advance. Cold reading, or sight-reading, is a technique that needs to be perfected by voice talents. This technique refers to reading a script for the first time when auditioning or performing a job.
The trick to being good at this is to let your eyes scan the succeeding words of what read. This tip will give your brain time to process the words before you read them out loud.
3- Being able to imitate or improvise characters
If you want to become a flexible voice talent, you have to be able to pass this requirement. Imitating the voice of a famous celebrity, or a new character, will improve your demo reel. Match both their voice and personality. This way, you will imitate not only their sound but their whole character. Some of the most famous voices include Christopher Walken and Bugs Bunny. There are even searches for Homer Simpson voice over, Bart Simpson voice over, Donald Duck voice over, or Gollum voice over.
Aside from being able to imitate voices, you must also improvise. Your director will expect this from you. As you are lending your voice to a character, it pays to come up with something to say on the spot based on their character, especially during auditions.
4- Demo reel
Think of a demo reel as your portfolio. Considered as one of the most important voice-over requirements, a demo reel will showcase your talents and the work you are capable of doing. Your demo reel can feature imitation voices of characters based on pre-existing scripts. A good demo reel showcases your wide range of voices.
You can record your own reel or get it professionally done in a studio. However, you will probably shell out some serious money for a professional one.
A typical demo reel lasts around two minutes long, but try to make a lasting impression in the first 30 seconds. If you are applying for a specific job, you can create a new demo reel that is aligned with that job. For example, if you’re applying for an environmental documentary voiceover, the director doesn’t have to hear your impression of a robot voice over.
Aside from your demo reel, it is also important to build your resume and a solid online presence. Gain experience by taking workshops and classes. You can also offer announcement services at local establishments, or narrate an audiobook. Don’t forget to add a professional headshot.
5- Home studio equipment
You can’t exactly record your jobs using your phone because of the resulting poor sound quality. If you want the ability to work anywhere, you need the right audio equipment. This tip will not only save you time but also money. Equipment is not a one-size-fits-all deal, so ensure that you purchase the right tools that match your skills and price point.
Here are some of the essential home studio equipment you need.
Microphone and accessories
You need a good microphone to record the sound of your voice. Your microphone is essential since it would largely impact the quality of your reel. Try to buy the best microphone with a sizeable diaphragm condenser that suits your budget. Fortunately, you don’t need to blow all your money to get a good microphone.
Aside from your mic, you also need a pop screen or pop filter. Because microphones are sensitive, they will pick up the unwanted sounds you make. This quality will create annoying pops in your recording. The pop screen will diffuse these plosive sounds.
You also need a shock mount. This device enables you to suspend your microphone using elastic bands, rubber, or any kind of suspension system. This system will get rid of vibration and noise the microphone will pick up if you handle it yourself. You can also get a microphone stand to help your mic stay in a fixed position to ensure that your recording will be free from rattles, and sound more consistent.
An excellent preamp will amplify the electrical signal from your microphone and convert it into something your recording device or software can read.
No matter how good your speakers are, they aren’t the right tool for examining, listening, and editing your recording. And don’t even think about using the earphones that come with your mobile phone. Every voice recording artist must have closed-back headphones.
Recording and editing software
Useful for voice actors, singers, and other artists, voice-over software is a program you need. The best audio software will enable you to record your voice and see it on the screen. There are also free programs available, although it is better to purchase one that offers various functions to help you produce solid audio.
Ready to Meet Your Voice-over Requirements?
Voice-over is truly an art form. By being a talent, you can make money using your voice. The best part is, there is no age limit for this work.
However, having an awesome and distinctive voice is not enough. Completing voice-over requirements is a must, especially because the market is now becoming very saturated.
If you meet all the voice-over requirements listed above, talent agents will want to represent you. And talent agents make finding jobs that suit your talent much easier. So go and get your voice heard by people around the world.
Did we miss any voice-over requirements? We’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!
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