YouTube has already enthralled a global audience of 1,300,000,000 loyal users. These whopping numbers, while nothing to scoff at, still pale in comparison to the 80% of humans who continue to swear by television. But, as more users adopt the internet in areas that hitherto had no or limited access, these numbers will shift. You can bet voice over YouTube was instrumental in getting us here.
While the platform has been active for some time, it’s become a force to be reckoned with in recent years. Its transformation from nerd haven to cultural touchstone happened quickly, and, to some people, almost overnight. But inventive, original content creators have been working with the platform for years. They have made it newsworthy and endlessly shareable.
YouTube is no longer a repository for funny, pixellated videos or D-level content; it’s now a massive cultural force that hosts quality content for all niches and interests. From cooking to documentaries about medieval weapons, you can expect YouTube to come through with something worth watching. Or binge-watching, that is. Just try tearing yourself away from your screen after watching just one interesting video! What? You weren’t interested in how to make Swedish cake frosting? Well, you are now!
Them Google overlords have sure struck something big with their algorithms, that’s for sure! But, even if you’re not that interested in that machine learning brouhaha, the facts are undeniable:
- Super-creative channel owners and creators are using voice overs as one of the main mediums to reach their audience.
- By leveraging the power of audiovisual media and high-quality videos that are easier to make than ever, they’re winning audiences over!
And believe me, they’re just getting started. But what is it about voice over YouTube that wins hearts and minds? Let’s take a deeper look.
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Voice Over, the ins and outs
You’ve heard voice overs before. Touting weight-loss products on the radio, selling the trim dream; some PA announcement that reminded that your train was about to leave; poignant narration in a film; a bad chop-socky dub, or an endless list of in-betweens.
Voice overs are a production technique for recording audio and overlaying it on a variety of media. Our Voice Over Jobs article explains them as:
A Voice over is an off-scene commentary narrated in a film or broadcast. In other words, it is the performance of a vocal script that is not accompanied by the visual image of the speaker. It is applied to an increasing number of industries such as entertainment, commercial, translation, communications, and education. Voice overs are done by voice actors or voice talents. Except for live announcement at events, they are usually pre-recorded. The audio recording can be played over to partially replace or override the original soundtrack. Alternatively, the narrated voice over script can also be an add-on to the original audio.
Voice overs are also a wonderfully diverse, $4.4 billion-strong industry. And that was in 2017! When the numbers come in for 2020, the tally will probably be even bigger.
Here are some of the various industries and mediums that fall under the voice over umbrella according to our What is Voice Over? Let’s Find Out article:
- voice over films
- dubbed foreign language films
- animation shorts or films
- tv programs
- radio or audio dramas
- video games
- live events
- awards shows
- toys and games
- vehicle and transportation
- phone messages and IVR
- training / e-learning
Voice over YouTube: a revolution in engagement
YouTube isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. Yes, it’s been around since 2005, when the first video was posted on the platform. But, it took a while for audiences to warm up to it and move it away from its humble beginnings. At first, it was a treasure trove of low-quality, grainy footage. It was a sort of repository for those family videos you send your grandma; while she was probably giddy about them, it takes a lot more to captivate a global audience.
But, things started changing. Content creators took up the opportunity of having their own broadcasting platform. Therefore, they began to adapt it to their own interests, seizing the opportunity to reach out to audiences on their terms.
YouTube was also a one-in-a-million chance for creators to shorten the gap between themselves and the viewer. This led to viral videos and overnight successes that spiked Google’s interest. Naturally, being no slouches they decided to purchase the company for $1.6 billion in 2006. YouTube makes them $4bn annually, so you’d think that worked out well for them! Though, in fact, the cost of running it exceeds their earnings!
Nonetheless, Google continues to favor YouTube as a platform. That’s probably because its cultural benefits far outweigh any material cost. It’s still a prime ad revenue generator (about 6% of their total). Not to mention a futuristic outreach tool, and a cultural giant to boot!
But what about the role of voice overs in all this? Let’s see what our inquiries turn up!
Narration: the voice over YouTube craze
Ever seen a how-to video, a documentary or a video essay? All of these utilize voice over narration to great effect. Simply put, this type of content relies mostly on off-camera commentary that runs along with complementary images.
If you’re a YouTube obsessive, like I am, you’ll notice that this is the preferred way in which many creators choose to portray their content. What’s up with that? Simple: it’s cheap, it’s effective, and it works for a multitude of purposes.
You can find voice over youtube videos that:
a) Mostly use third-party images or content captured elsewhere. This is common in video essays and documentaries.
b) Complement studio or pre-made images and animation. Think about cooking shows, how-to or explainer videos.
c) They can also combine the two, and occasionally cut back to people. YouTubers with a little more money and exposure tend to have more studio space and better lighting. This gives them more leeway when it comes to presentation.
So, voice overs are a great way to foster a sense of identity and closeness with the content creator. The intimacy that voice overs afford is unparalleled. It feels like the content creator is sharing their innermost thoughts about a subject with you. They’re also great for speaking authoritatively; the combination of the spoken word and images delivers a double-whammy of information for the viewer. This, in turn, enables better information retention. Who says YouTube is just for slacking off?
Especially during these times when being a shut-in is more about preserving life than isolating from it, platforms like YouTube should engender greater respect.
So, what are some voice over YouTube examples that you can learn from in your quest to make engaging content?
Binging With Babish
This giant YouTube cooking show was created by Andrew Rea, aka Oliver Babish. He specializes in recreating recipes seen in movies, video games, and animation. An accomplished cook who certainly knows his stuff, he also uses his channel to educate viewers on the basics. His videos regularly attract millions of viewers and hundreds of thousands of likes. In his channel, you can see him recreating everything from the strudel from Inglorious Basterds to the Krabby Patty from Spongebob.
Check out his video on pizza basics here.
Notice any particularity here? Indeed, did you realize how the quality of Rea’s voice changes from his on-camera introduction to when he starts with the recipe? That’s when he switches from his TV-presenter mode to the silky-smooth tones that gave him his voice over YouTube stardom!
This YouTuber is a personal favorite. George Weidman is a master at analyzing video game design. In his long video essays, he expounds on the philosophy, inspiration, mechanics, and creator intent behind many video game gems.
He’s normally very affectionate of long-form analysis where he expertly and meticulously weaves his opinions with game footage. Weidman’s channel is one of the touchstones the gaming community turns to when well-reasoned, thoughtful dissertations on games are needed.
Since the TV show has — fortunately, since it’s very faithful — captured the love of Netflix audiences, I’ll leave you with his thoughts on The Witcher game trilogy.
Be warned, though: this is a three-part video. The man definitely does his research, I hope you’ve got popcorn in your pantry. Still, we’re made of nothing but time in the post-Covid-19 world. Buckle up, because if you didn’t know about the novels and games that gave us Geralt of Rivia, you’re in for a ride!
Are you a history buff? Well, with your newly-found time, maybe you should be. After all, what better way to spend our time indoors than to think about the mistakes and successes of the past? Oversimplified is a channel that has gotten the explainer video down to a science. In these short, to-the-point vids they lead the viewer on small historical or documentary journeys.
Sure, simplification is baked into the premise of the show. But it’s still amazing to see how much detail they can pack into videos that are only a few minutes long. Also, their videos are pretty much PG all-around, so you can watch them with your little ones. Voice over YouTube: it’s educational. No, for real. It is!
Check out their take on World War I to see what I mean. It ain’t exactly ripped from today’s headlines, but it’s a fantastic learning tool.
(I wonder what their COVID-19 vid will be like. Let’s stay tuned, I guess!)
The end? I don’t think so!
I hope this has been a suitable entry into the voice over YouTube phenomenon. “By 2025, half of viewers under 32 will not subscribe to a pay-TV service,” says Brandywatch.com. So, whatever the numbers behind YouTube (and how and why Google keeps it running), it’s certain that it’ll continue to grow.
Do you have a channel, or are thinking about starting one? Are you one of those brave souls that are thinking about taking the plunge? Well, here are the two paths that can shorten the distance to success:
- Read our Voice Over Tips for the Fearless Entrepreneur article and get started on your voice over YouTube journey.
- Hire top-notch voice over talent and get a move on! No, not every YouTube channel has to be voiced by its creator/s. Some, like top ten or documentary channels, frequently employ third-party talent.
Word of advice, though: if you’re going to be hiring, choose reputable sources. Nowadays, every kid with a headset mic is going to try and peddle voice over services to you. Even if they sound good, the peace of mind offered by top-quality voice acting talent is unmatched. Always bet on established talent.
Just remember to give us little nod when your new video goes viral on the interwebz and you’re swimming that sweet Google cash!