When anyone thinks of a normal actor, they consider their facial and bodily appearance, their voice and mannerisms, and of course the roles they have played. Voice actors are similar but different. Without the visual aspect of their appearance and body language, there is a greater focus on the quality and sound of their voice.
Voice actors are very much in demand these days. They may be doing voice-overs for the entertainment industry, e.g. films, cartoons, or computer games. They are frequently employed by businesses as well. This could include speaking on training or marketing productions.
When someone requires the help of a voice actor, it can be a daunting choice. There are so many people who are willing to provide their services, but what qualities should we be looking for? Let’s take a look at six of these right now.
Some companies repeatedly use the same voice actor, even if it’s for totally different roles. This is because the best voice actors may have different ‘voices’. People who are seeking voiceover recordings by experienced professionals may want them for e-learning modules or promotional videos. They may be needed for adverts or audiobooks. Each of these platforms will require a totally different vocal delivery and style.
A voice actor may be required to speak as a soldier on one day, and to address an elderly audience the next. The best choice of person will be someone who is adaptable in their tone and who has a good vocal range. If they speak on the same level or at the same volume consistently, it can be wearing to listen to.
Voice actors are like musicians in that they need to speak using the right rhythm and tempo. As with singers, volume, pitch, and breathing are also key. Choose an actor whose portfolio demonstrates consistency when speaking. If they speed up as they go along, choose someone else!
It may be that an advert requires a lot to be said within a limited amount of time. In such scenarios, it’s important that the actor can speak quickly without sounding rushed. If they can’t do this without sounding garbled and indistinct, try a different actor.
We have already mentioned actor portfolios. They are the audible CV (Curriculum Vitae) or resume that showcases their work.
An experienced person is likely to have had lots of on the job training. They may have begun as a radio station intern. If someone has been in this business for a while this must tell you something. They will have persisted in their work and been resilient.
It’s amazing how many people don’t understand how to hold a microphone properly, or how to speak into it. Someone who is new to voice acting may still be holding a microphone with their hand (and generating unwelcome background noise) rather than using a stand. If they speak too close to the microphone the voice will become distorted. An experienced actor will hopefully not have these issues.
It is logical that established voice actors may charge more for their services than others. In return for paying more, a person should have a smoother experience with the actor and end up with a quality recording.
Voice actors take acting lessons just as normal ones do. This is because they need to be able to get ‘into character’. This calls for a person with a good imagination. They may also need a sense of fun if providing a voice for a humorous commercial or children’s cartoon. Alternatively, they will need to project a sense of maturity if helping with a business video.
Just as with normal acting, the voice recording will be essentially a ‘performance’. It’s an interesting fact that voice actors often need to use body language when recording their scripts. A range of emotions may need to be engaged too. One of the most important things actors need is to sound interested. They must seem genuinely inspired by the product they are promoting, or deeply aware of the challenges some people are experiencing.
Clarity of Voice
There is no opportunity to lip-read voice actors. It’s therefore absolutely essential that the chosen actor has distinct speech and clear elocution. No matter what volume they use or the emotion they employ, every word must be succinct. Good enunciation must be coupled with a sense of enthusiasm. If someone sounds bored or wooden it will kill everything.
Annoying vocal habits are also a ‘no-no’. They will detract from what the person is saying. The actors to avoid are those who keep sniffing or breathing loudly through their noses. If they make repetitive smacking sounds with their mouth they will not be suitable either.
No matter how good the speaker has been, it will be essential that the recording is of broadcast quality. The actor must demonstrate competent use of their recording equipment. There should be absolutely no background noise, such as the hum of electricity, people talking, or nearby traffic. There should be no superfluous clicking sounds or echo when the person speaks.
Native speakers of the language will always be easier to understand. If there is a foreign accent it can be more of a struggle to listen to. Fortunately, there are voice actors available to cover over eighty different languages. If someone is completely relaxed when they talk they will not sound tedious or robotic. If an actor is struggling their way through the script or keeps saying ‘er’ the whole experience will become painful to listen to. The speaker needs to sound confident and have a natural flow.
When people have decided on a potential voice actor, they usually contact them and request a free proposal. We have now discussed the six key things to look for in a voice actor: versatility, pace, experience, acting ability, clarity of voice, and natural communication. When these qualities are found in one person they will be unlikely to disappoint. The actor will provide the best possible contribution to your venture.
Photo credits: Unsplash