With almost everything going digital, voice-over or so-called off-stage commentary has become even more popular. Namely, the voice that is not a part of the narrative in many different productions: movies, television, radio, video games, theatre, presentations, and even in smart devices. It is used everywhere, from documentaries – like the voices of David Attenborough or Morgan Freeman – to on-hold messages. Announcements over PA systems, movie previews, video games, voices of animated characters, advertising are all examples where voice-over would be necessary.
It is important to specify that voice-over is usually added over the dialogue in movies or commercials and should not be confused with dubbing (revoicing). The dialogue is replaced with its translated version and conveys the tonal, emotive, and technical richness of the original soundtrack. This requires voice-acting, and it is not the disembodied voice in a given production. Similarly, when portraying a cartoon or animated character, the actor or actress would have to show that particular character a specific voice and speaking manner.
In the past, voices from people like Don LaFontaine, Paul Pape or Melissa Disney have made an impact that has inspired many future generations of voiceover artists.
Many freelancers are already into this world, and if you are dreaming of becoming one, these tips are for you. And if you are already looking for a freelance platform where you can find a project to work on, we suggest trying out Voix Off Master.
- 1 1. Learn everything about it
- 2 2. Find a mentor (or multiple)
- 3 3. Learn to listen
- 4 4. Practice, practice, and then practice some more
- 5 5. Study hard
- 6 6. Network and promote yourself
- 7 7. Be persistent
- 8 8. Take risks now and then
- 9 9. Get the right equipment (and learn how to use it)
- 10 10. Be realistic
1. Learn everything about it
Start with learning all that you possibly can about the business. The more you know about it– the better off you’ll be. Learn the big names – how they made it and what were their big breaks and successes. Also, read books that will give you a better perspective of the work you are about to do and the world you want to be a part of, and ultimately, it will prepare you for any potential disappointments or warn you about traps you should avoid.
2. Find a mentor (or multiple)
This might be tricky, but remember: people want to feel useful, smart, and usually want help. So it is important to reach out to people whose style you like or find similar to yours. You can start with a few questions and see where that takes you. Any calls that you can make might prove to be irreplaceable experiences, or if you find someone with whom you can stay into a more regular correspondence – even better.
3. Learn to listen
There are voiceover examples everywhere around you. If you turn on the TV, there will be commercials, documentaries, and movies during which you can pay attention to the delivery of the message, as well as the tone and the attitude. Don’t skip the radio commercials while listening to music in your car. Instead, try to feel the energy, to comprehend the technique, and try imagining how it would sound if you were the one voicing the same thing.
4. Practice, practice, and then practice some more
Just like with everything: no matter how talented you are, you must practice as that will bring it to perfection. There is always room to improve yourself, no matter how far you have come. Find some online voice-over scrips and quotes and record yourself over and over. Later, take time to listen and note what sounds good and what doesn’t, what you like and what you should avoid, and try to say it in a way that, for you, it will sound perfect.
5. Study hard
Besides practicing, you must study. No one is born with knowledge – one must take it. To find online classes from other voiceover actors (preferably ones that you sound similar to or at least wish to), watch tutorials, read their blogs, and listen to podcasts. Especially valuable are articles and books from producers and creative directors. They will tell you what matters for the people who will be sitting right across you and deciding if you are a good fit or not for a particular gig. Take notes and try to apply and incorporate them when practicing.
6. Network and promote yourself
Other than regularly checking the ads for gigs, another way to find out about them and stay up-to-date with the business’s newest developments is by joining a community. Whether that would be though joining in a Facebook group or email subscription, meeting with other voiceover actors, or any different manner, it will help you promote yourself. It will provide information and resources and give you a picture of what it is like in the business for most people. Also, you will get to meet the competition, and that will provide you with valuable insight.
7. Be persistent
You will probably get any rejections – probably more than you would like to, but it is all part of the game. If you are truly good at it and work on becoming even better, you will likely find your way. It might be very difficult, especially at first, but eventually, it might end up being routine.
8. Take risks now and then
Staying in the comfort zone is nice, but pushing your limits will take you even further. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies, so that you might be putting up obstacles for yourself. Occasionally, you will make a fool out of yourself, but other times, doing something that you believe is “not your style” or what you believe that you “can’t do it” can turn out to be one of your strengths.
9. Get the right equipment (and learn how to use it)
This will be one of the times where you will be investing more significant finances. You will need a high-quality microphone, excellent headphones and a computer with the proper software through which you will be able to record and edit the voiceovers. Getting a microphone stand is a wise step as that will stabilize the microphone and give you freedom of movement of your arms. That way, your performance will be enhanced, and the sound will be of better quality. A so called pop filter will keep the recording crisp, without the annoying popping and hissing sounds. It is a screen that will diffuse and capture your Ps and Ss before they distort the recording.
10. Be realistic
Of course, as this is something for which you need to have potential and inherent talent (more specifically, a distinct voice and capability to adapt it), you have to be honest with yourself from the very start. Namely, is this something that you can make a living from, or at least make it your side gig or a hobby? If the answer is “yes,” then it might be worth pursuing this more seriously.