So, you’ve made the decision that ‘voice over’ is the way to go for your new project but don’t have experience in sourcing this particular set of skills and need some tips in choosing the voice for you. Look no further.
Use a professional studio: You can have Brian Blessed himself, but if you want a powerful sound then you should make use of a dedicated studio, who themselves may have some leads in finding stellar voice over artists. The best studios will benefit from highly skilled and experienced studio engineers who will have plenty of experience and the most up to date equipment to bring the best out of your chosen voice talent.
Insist on demos: It is imperative to require that your applicants submit some demos of actual voice over recordings so that you can ensure that they can create the required sound in a recording studio setting. The best applicants should have an assortment of demos that reflect distinctive and challenging work showing their flexibility and range.
Choose a voice that matches your audience: Everybody has heard those radio advertisements for DIY stores for the trade, usually narrated by working class men with strong regional accents, speaking in charming slang. Of course this involves stereotyping the end user, but even if it is 65% correct, it is worth thinking about your own end user and matching the tone and character of the voice artist to them.
A voice should also fit your subject: Nobody wants someone with a comedic tone advertising a funeral home, but neither do you want a sombre, funereal voice trying to sell a comedy club. Successful voice overs always match the tone to the subject. This is why demos are incredibly important in establishing an artist’s range and limitations.
Work from recommendations: These days a lot of word of mouth recommendations have been replaced by online reviews and feedback on company or agency websites. However it does sometimes pay to ask people in the industry and those who work in studios too. Having personal recommendations and being able to ask questions about the talent can make all the difference in making the right decision.
You may have the perfect voice but can you assume the right character for the role? Being able to vary speed, tone and emphasis as well as following cues and direction are vital attributes for a good voice over artist. A limited range and monotone style are not desirable and can prove a recipe for disaster.
Male or female?
This is always a bridge that must be crossed and of course there is no easy way to answer this conundrum, but expert consensus is that gender does play a vital role in setting the tone of a piece. Arthur Chu, a voice over artist from Cleveland has been quoted as saying that “men’s voices are associated with neutrality, with authoritative, factual information…The voiceover you want for some kind of authoritative instructional video, or something asserting dry historical fact, is going to be that baritone, somewhat monotone, slightly stern voice.” And of course the female voice has a different role to play, based partly on the nature of the voice but also the stereotypical role played by women in our society. “Because females tend to be the more nurturing gender by nature, their voices are often perceived as a helper, more compassionate, understanding, and non-threatening,” Debbie Grattan, a veteran voice over artist for multiple brands including Apple, Samsung, and Wal-Mart has been quoted as saying. This means that the female voice would be well applied in videos that require a sense of empathy, such as teaching and healthcare or charity pieces, to name but a few examples.
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