It only takes one voice at the right pitch to start an avalanche! A huge movement that can make or break your brand, your voice over film and your sales numbers. As far as the miracle of technology goes, we have proof to show that a human touch is still widely appreciated. Studies have shown that 91% agree that the human voice is more powerful than a synthetic one. So let’s talk about voice over facts!
Humanization. That’s the power of voice over. With languages, you are home everywhere. It helps you become accepted and trusted as a member of a community. Effectively, that’s exactly what you need to penetrate new markets, communicate a personal brand experience or, well, entertain! It’s about finding your intelligible voice in order to inspire others to find theirs.
Are you already a pro looking for some tips to polish up your voice over acting? Or perhaps you’re a just beginner looking for a “voice over how to” for your brand’s internal production. Whatever you want to achieve in the realm, this piece will have a little something for every voice over person. We’ll look into effective tips, and give you an insider’s scoop to the latest trends in the industry. May this be your enlightening guide towards a successful production!
What is Voice Over Work?
So you’ve heard it time and again. You’ve done a search for both the terms voiceover or voice over. You might have even looked up some voice acting courses. All in your attempt on that marketing project you’ve been assigned to. But exactly, what is voice over? Let’s get down to the basics of the voice over definition.
Voice over is essentially an off-screen audio production method. It is used for announcements, movies, video games, presentations, radio, and television. It has endless applications for an array of media. The voice over definition covers a few technical methods. The synchronous dialogue method may be used where the voice over person narrates the action taking place on-screen at the same time. The pre-recorded asynchronous method is usually used in cinema, news reports, and documentaries. In addition, localization can sometimes be an objective purpose of the production. That is usually defined as voice over translation.
Top 3 Reasons to Use a Voice Over
Can you hear a smile in someone’s voice? Would you rather read or listen? In an eye-movements study, research shows that 70% prefers listening while only 46.7% rather read on-screen text. The average human today has the attention span of a goldfish. What doesn’t immediately appeal can sometimes cost you your audience, and possibly conversions very quickly.
It takes substantial work and equipment to record a voice over. But is the investment in both time and money worth your while? We say yes. And as veterans in the industry, here are our top three reasons why.
Adding a Human Touch
A voice over artist can breathe life into written words of which is a storyline or script. If you’ve seen “Dexter”, you know it’s a great television series about a serial killer. What makes it stand out above the rest is the audio narration the main character’s inner thoughts. The show uses voice over narration to depict his everyday insecurities and life principles. All that glitter is not gold, and we often only see what’s on the outside. The voice over however successfully builds the average person’s personal relation to the character. In such a way, voice overs add a strong portrayal of personality to fictional characters. The emotional involvement of the audience is what made the series so successfully addictive!
How strongly can you relate to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars as compared to the robotic R2D2? The voice matters and humanization is what draws a strong appeal. Research has shown that emotionally related events are imprinted in memory better. That is why we remember things that are more compelling and of personal significance. Maya Angelou once said, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with a deeper meaning.” That is what makes voice over such an effective tool not only for a voice over movie, but also for the marketing industry.
Authentic Localization of Content
Would you buy a product that has been marketed in a different language? Probably not one that comes at a hefty cost. Statistics say that:
- 90% prefer to shop online in their native language
- 78% rather buy from a brand that has been localized
- 75% prefer product information in their own language
Yes, we have numbers to prove that voice over translation can give your brand a huge boost in the global marketplace. This is simply through localization. But is translation enough?
No, it is not. Simply because localization is not just the translation of content from one language to another. It is also the adaptation of cultural nuances and local preferences. That is aside from the fact that the average person absorbs information better through listening rather than reading. Voice over can help to preserve the authenticity of your brand message and values, while adapting to the local market. An example of adaptation is the use of regional accents. It can be used in television advertising and radio broadcasting to develop and retain the identity of your brand. Such will contribute to the credibility of your products, especially on a global scale.
Localization can also be applied to the entertainment industry. In the films, voice overs are sometimes used in place of dubbing for television programs. They are especially useful in the news industry when the original voice of the speaker can still be heard in the background.
No Second Guessing
Some creative production calls for one’s imagination and inferences. There are however many situations where the exact intended message needs to be conveyed. Such include educational documentaries, live sports, and newscasting. With non-fiction content, voice over narration allows for a clear and detailed descriptive account of the story or situation.
In some cases, voice over Powerpoint presentations can prove to come in very handily. This is especially so for new business pitches. When the time does not always permit us to personally make a presentation, pre-recording one is an excellent solution. It allows for a perfect presentation every single time. In addition, it prevents your proxy from misinterpreting your message due to possible ambiguity. Here’s a guide on how you can create a voice over Powerpoint.
Voice Over Technique & Applications
As you can imagine from the above, there are different voice over styles. Here, we’ll cover all of the major ones. While going through them, try to identify which of the methods is most suited for your project!
The UN Method
What Is It?
Usually adopted for the purpose of translations, the audio of original content is first being played. A voice over translation then comes on a couple of seconds after. In the meantime, the volume of the original content is being lowered to about 20% while the voice over plays. It is a particularly preferred method used for dialogues of prominent people such as politicians and celebrities. This is because it retains some integrity and authenticity by allowing the original speaker’s voice to still be heard in the background.
- News footage
- Radio broadcast
The Instructional Method
What Is It?
This voice over method is highly descriptive. It narrates actions happening on-screen in an instructional style. Often, only one voice actor is required for this method of voice over. The voice actor usually has free reign of speech as a script is not necessary.
- E-learning material
- Training and educational videos
- Explainer videos
- Promotional videos
- Human Resource videos
- Fitness and inspirational videos
- Trade show announcements
The Narration Method
What Is It?
The voice over narration definition covers a storytelling aspect. It is usually done from the perspective of the main character in a plot. This is also known as first-person narration. The narration method can convey the emotion of each personality. Sometimes, more than one voice actor (multi-cast) is hired to distinguish between different characters. Voice over narration is mostly utilized for fictional content with and without a visual component.
- Animation films
- Television series
- Films and movies
- Biography accounts
The Dialogue Replacement Method
What Is It?
Unlike the UN voice over, the dialogue replacement method completely overrides the original speaker. There is no lowering of volume on the original audio. As a result, the original speaker cannot be heard. Depending on the project, this style sometimes requires more than one voice actor to differentiate between each on-screen speaker. Dialogue replacement is similar but different from dubbing. This is due to the reason that it does not require any lip-syncing with the on-screen speakers.
- Animation films
- Promotional videos
- Television series
- Films and movies
The Dubbing Method
What Is It?
The technique of dubbing has globalized the film making industry. In general, dubbing is mostly a translation technique of voice over in film. It is rather like the dialogue replacement method except that it comes with the element of lip-synching. This means that the script of the new audio has to be synchronized with the on-screen lip movement of the actors. Non-worded sounds such as hiccups, coughs, yawns, and sneezes are recorded too. The method remakes almost the entire audio of a film. As a result, the original audio is recorded over with new voices.
- Animation films
- Films and movies
- Promotional videos
- Television series
- Parody humor
The Beginner’s Kit
So you have a voice over project to accomplish. Everyone has to start somewhere. Recording a successful voice over is just like baking a cake. You need quality ingredients and the right technique to create a beautiful masterpiece. Above all, a little practice doesn’t hurt anybody. Let’s start with the ingredients. Below are the absolute essentials you will need before recording a basic voice over.
A Good Quality Mic
Yes, you can have Morgan Freeman’s golden voice and still fall short in your voice over recording. A good mic goes a long way. If you are new to the game, you can use the built-in microphone on your computer. But if you are in for the long haul, it is probably a good idea to invest in a high-standard stand-alone mic. Not a tech geek? Here’s a list of microphone recommendations for you to consider.
Once you’ve decided on your mic, here’s a laundry list of to-dos that will help you with both doing set-up and ensuring sound quality. It’s also probably a good idea to use some headphones so you can closely monitor the sound quality.
Position the mic 6 to 12 inches away from your mouth
Talk directly into your mic. Distance matters! If you are too far away, your recording will be too soft. And if you speak too closely, your voice will become distorted which results in an overly-bass like quality.
Always do a test recording
Avoid forehead-slapping situations! You don’t want to end up having to re-record a perfect take. So make sure you run a test before starting. You can start by reciting some voice acting warm up tongue twisters that we will cover later below. If the playback of the recording is too soft, adjust the levels on your computer to give it a boost. Or, well, make sure you speak more loudly.
Say it, don’t spray it
Well, unless you’re recording to do a Daffy Duck impression. The mouth noise battle is a tough war to fight and spraying doesn’t help. You want to avoid mouth clicks and pops during, before or after a speech. They can be caused by your teeth, tongue or bubbles in your saliva whilst talking. For starters, make sure you’re well-hydrated before you start recording. It’s also a good idea to take sips in between your voice over sessions. In addition, good maintenance of your mic is recommended. Here are some ways you can clean yours. With the world of germs getting more creative, you can never be too keen on hygiene!
Mouth noise isn’t the only problem on the list of white noises. Other problems can include movement sounds from your clothing. It’s good to be nicely warmed up and loose before a recording session. But do try to avoid too much movement lest your rustlings sounds get recorded.
A Quiet Room
You’ve heard of photobombing. In this case, we mean no sound bombing. An example of unwanted noise includes your neighbor’s barking dog, or your grandmother preparing a meatloaf in the kitchen. For this reason, the best voice overs are developed in a recording studio. One equipped with professional equipment and a soundproof room. Nevertheless, we understand that not everyone can afford the hefty time and cost investment in renting one. So here’s what you can do.
Start in a quiet room. Turn off all fans, air conditioners, and furnaces that might contribute to white noise. Again, we can’t emphasize enough, the importance of test recording. Playback your test clips to see if any noise other than your voice is audible. Readjust your environment if you identify any.
A Fool-Proof Script
Depending on the type of voice over project, you can experiment with different voice qualities. But most of the time, aside from live event voice overs, a script on hand is a must-have. Here are some things to take note of when creating a script.
If you’re doing a translation voice over such as dubbing, dialogue replacement or UN-style, make sure you time the number of words you have. The number of syllables per word is sometimes important, especially with the lip-syncing of dubbing. Note that some languages are lengthier than others. One example is the German language below:
The Word “Pen” in Different Languages: Swedish: Penna Italian: Penna French: Stylo German: Kugelschreiber
One way you can track the length of words is by doing the translation in an Excel sheet. Enter the original content by lines into one column. Next, translate each of the lines in another. The comparison in the length of each column can help you to avoid translation expansion.
Creating a voice over ad? Be sure to make sure that your script is catchy and fun. The goal of your project can determine how your content is written. If you are developing promotional content, make sure you frame it in a simple and short way. Omit bombastic words and complicated concepts that require loads of explaining. Air time is usually money in commercials, and don’t want to lose your audience to boredom!
A Back-Up Plan
Unless you own a magic crystal ball, you can never predict the future. We all know those good clients are hard to come by. So are good voice over actors. When you’ve established the heavenly match, you don’t want to jinx it. Unfortunately, as ambitious as we all are, sometimes the flu or cough might get the best of us. (Refer to this article to learn how to quickly regain your lost voice). Whether you question your new voice over talent or if disaster strikes, a back up is always a good contingency plan.
Finding a good voice over proxy pronto can be challenging, and like searching for a needle in a haystack. The range of different voice qualities you require for each project demands a different skill set each time. A great idea would be to work with a platform such as this one. It offers an array of voice qualities, is affordable, and guarantees a high-quality outcome. Not to mention the number of accents, language and voice age available. Having a reliable back up solution like this up your sleeve will definitely take some load off your jitters!
Essential Tips for Good Voice Acting
Check-listed everything above? You’re all set to start recording. Tara Strong once said that “Many people think voice over artists just read. Without acting beats, scene study and improving skills, you won’t make it.” Think of it this way. Even celebrities who read off a teleprompter have to add a little personality mojo to make their hosting worthwhile. Here are some tips to polish up that vocal cords, so hit that record button and let’s begin!
Do Vocal Warm Ups
You’re not going to run a ten-click marathon without warming up those muscles! The same concept applies to voice over acting. Remember that your voice is now your rice bowl, so to speak. So you should do everything you can in your power to not only record great outcomes but also preserve those golden vocal cords. Every voice actor should thus have their own warm up routine. Here’s what it can help you achieve:
- Loosens and wakes up different parts of your voice.
- It enables you to reach a wider range of vocal pitch.
- Prevention of vocal injury caused by long hours of unnatural voice straining.
- Prevention of voice cracks, mouth noises, and pronunciation problems.
- Unstiffens your overall performance.
From pitch to breathing exercises, there are many ways to build your routine. The best time to do a warm-up is before your recording session or even every morning. You can even incorporate some tongue twisters to improve your enunciation agility. Convinced yet? Here’s a comprehensive article on how you can design your vocal warm up routine.
Unless you’re doing a voice over for Chewbacca, don’t mumble your script! Articulate every word at an understandable pace without rushing through your content. The warm up session should help you to get the blood pumping to your tongue and lips to increase agility.
Another tip is to show your teeth during the speech. By doing so, your lips have more space to create a clearer sound for pronunciation. Remember that crystal clear clarity is the whole point of your voice over. Don’t lose your audience’s attention to incomprehensible speech.
All great politicians in the world have one thing in common. They give great speeches. A monotonous speech will hit the snooze button on your audience. We can’t all be as primitively cool as R2D2, so put some passion into your voice over! Attention is up for grabs but hard to come by. 4 out of 5 professionals admitting that their focus gets shifted away from speakers. Out of that 41% of professionals claim that stimulating dialogue is what keeps them engaged.
What is the tonality of your voice over project? Does it call for enthusiasm or wrath? Use varying pitches and volume to place emphasis on important parts of your speech. It is also a great way to evoke emotion. One way to do this is to consciously mark out these parts on your script so you will not overlook them. Do this as naturally as possible as you don’t want to sound like a drama queen!
Pace & Pause
Well-timed silence can sometimes portray more eloquence than speech. So use them for your advantage. Strategically planted pauses in your script can make a huge drumroll impact. Furthermore, they give your audience a chance to absorb what you’ve just said. Narrate your script slightly slower than how you would normally talk to someone. The recommended pace for radio and podcasts is 150 to 160 words per minute. Practice makes perfect, so time your speeches. And don’t go below 110 words per minute or you will lose your audience to the sandman!
Finding The Perfect Voice Actor
Decided that a voice over isn’t worth the effort? Consider outsourcing affordably! But before you do so, you have to know what you need. Going ahead by casting trial and error styles is a terrible loss of investment. This is why learning how to describe a voice can be so useful. Here’s a great article to help you word specific qualities in the voice actor you are looking for. But for starters, consider the below:
Your Project Type
If your project an audio ad, an e-book or a video?
How much have you set aside for the project? What is the number of words of your script? How long is your script in seconds or minutes? Are you outsourcing translation? Do you need to outsource your scriptwriting too?
How much time did you allocate for the project? Do you have an urgent campaign deadline to meet?
Are you looking for a male or female voice actor? What is the voice age? Do you prefer a high pitched or low pitched actor?
What language or dialect are you looking for? Do you require a particular accent?
To Conclude the Chapter
Claire Danes rightfully said, “Voice over can be tricky. It can be dangerous because it’s overused or inappropriately used.” In truth, your project can make or break your brand or film. So it’s important to understand the underlying criteria for a great outcome. That includes hiring the right voice actor and ensuring a good sound quality. This guide has been designed by seasoned voice actors, so follow this diligently for a successful recording. Now loosen up and click that record button. And don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it!