What is a Voice Over?

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    What is a voice over? It’s a technique used to enhance video content. A good voice over recording can explain a situation and engage the audience. Here is all you need to know.

    What is a voice over?

    Voice overs are everywhere. You’ll hear professional voice actors in animated movies lending their voice to a character to make it more compelling. You’ll hear creators adding voice overs to drive a point home if you watch YouTube videos. So, what is a voice over and what are some voice over examples?

    Voice overs are the go-to tool for filmmaking narration and are even popular in the corporate setting. Not everyone can be a voice actor though. That’s why many pay hefty fees for their services and voice over jobs are in demand.

    However, others rely on AI solutions and voice over generation apps. If you’re curious about voice over work, here’s a comprehensive guide on how it works and how to use it correctly. So, lets get to understanding just what is a voice over.

    What is a Voice Over – Explained

    A voice over is a unique production technique where a person records a voice to narrate a story or add more information. We don’t see the voice actor but only hear them speak. A voice over is used to provide more context or enhance an existing narrative.

    Usually, a person has a script and reads the text in a recording studio. The voice over industry welcomes voice artists of all ages and experiences.

    However, you don’t need to be a professional voice actor to deliver great voice over work. You’re off to a good start if you have a great voice and know how to pace yourself.

    Is it Voiceover or voice-over?

    Now that we understand what is a voice over, let’s tackle the next big question. If you’re writing in a formal context, it’s best to use “voiceover,” as technically, it’s the correct term. But if the text will end up somewhere on the web, you might want to consider using “voice over” instead.

    Why are Voice Overs useful?

    You may wonder why voice over narration is important. First, voice overs are incredibly valuable to people with visual impairments. It allows them to learn, work, and develop projects much easier.

    Voice overs also have a long history of providing context and emotion to a video. One of the first voice over productions was Walt Disney’s “Snow White and Seven Dwarfs” from 1937. The animated characters appeared on the screen with an accompanying voice over.

    Also, early Italian films used dubbing for dialogue in post-production. Today, voice actors lend their voices to documentaries, TV shows, movies, and other types of video productions.

    The elements of good voice over work

    Anyone can make an improvised home studio and start doing voice work. However, to become an excellent voice actor, it’s important to know what makes great voice over work.

    Clarity

    Volume and sound quality are vital to great voice over production. Your voice needs to be clear and recorded at a comfortable volume. If there’s any background noise or people can’t hear your voice well, they’ll probably stop listening.

    Consistency

    A real voice over artist can deliver consistent performance. If every audio recording differs, there’s still work to do. That’s why the best voice actors always ensure the same quality and get more jobs.

    Attention to details

    Most of us don’t notice the little noises our mouths make as we speak. Even the tiniest sounds can ruin a voice over recording. Perhaps you don’t pay any attention to the little breaths after every few words you speak or you sigh unexpectedly in the middle of a sentence. An exceptional voice over talent will take note of these issues and work to eliminate them.

    Confidence

    One must feel confident in their vocal abilities to deliver a high-quality voice over. They must follow the script and add their personality to the voice over. It’s imperative for voice actors to sound convincing when they deliver the lines.

    Good pronunciation

    Enunciation and good pronunciation are essential for excellent voice over work, but what is the difference? Pronunciation means you’re saying the word correctly, using the proper accentuation. Enunciation is when you say the same word clearly so anyone can understand you.

    Pacing

    Good pacing is vital if you want to deliver the script on cue. Finding the right pace for a commercial, explainer video, or documentary will differ. That’s why experienced voice actors know how to adjust the rate to a specific project.

    What’s the purpose of a VoiceOver?

    Voice overs are used for various purposes, including:

    1. Narration: In films and television, a voice over is often used to narratively connect scenes or explain a character’s thoughts or motivations. A famous example of this is the use of voice overs in the classic film noir genre.
    2. Commercial/advertising: In radio and television commercials, voice overs are used to sell products or services by conveying messages persuasively.
    3. News Reporting and Documentaries: Voice overs are often used in news reporting and documentaries to provide information or commentary about the visual content being shown.
    4. Animation and Video Games: In animated films and video games, voice actors provide the voices for the characters.
    5. Audiobooks: In audiobooks, the entire text is read out loud by a voice actor or narrator.
    6. Training and Education: In training or educational videos or presentations, voice overs are used to instruct or guide the viewer.

    The quality of the voice over can greatly affect the impact and effectiveness of the content. The voice actor must be able to convey the right emotions and nuances as dictated by the script, and the recording and mixing processes must be done professionally to achieve the best result.

    What is the difference between voice-over and voice acting?

    While the terms “voice over” and “voice acting” are often used interchangeably, they do have slightly different meanings.

    Voice over

    Voice over is a broad term referring to the technique of using off-screen voices in media productions, as I described in the previous response. This can be applied to a wide range of contexts, from commercials and promotional videos to documentaries and instructional materials. The voice over artist is usually unseen by the audience and could be providing narration, voicing characters in an animation, or speaking in a commercial.

    Voice acting

    Voice acting on the other hand, is a subset of voice over work. It specifically refers to the art of performing voice work in character – that is, giving life to characters in media such as animated movies, video games, radio dramas, and more. It’s called voice acting because it involves not just reading lines, but embodying a character and conveying their personality and emotions through vocal performance alone. It requires a wide range of acting skills and the ability to create distinct and engaging character voices.

    In essence, all voice acting is a type of voice over, but not all voice over is voice acting. Some voice over roles may not require “acting” in the traditional sense. For instance, a voiceover artist in a commercial or a documentary might not be playing a character, but rather presenting information or persuading the audience.

    So what is “technically” considered a voice over?

    A voice-over is considered as such when an off-screen voice is used in various forms of media, including films, television, radio, theatre, video games, presentations, and more. The voice-over could be part of the narrative or be used to provide commentary or information about what’s being shown on screen. Here are several examples:

    1. Narration: The voice-over provides a running commentary or tells a story in movies, documentaries, or TV shows. A classic example is Morgan Freeman’s narration in “The Shawshank Redemption”.
    2. Commercials/Advertising: The voice-over sells a product or service or delivers the key messages in radio and TV ads.
    3. Promos/Trailers: These voice-overs introduce the audience to upcoming programs or films, often with a teaser of the content.
    4. Animation/Video Games: All of the characters’ voices are performed by voice-over actors.
    5. Educational Videos/E-Learning: The voice-over explains concepts, procedures, or lessons to students or viewers.
    6. Audiobooks: The entire book is read out loud by a voice-over artist.
    7. Public Announcements: These include announcements at events, in public spaces, or on transportation systems.
    8. IVR (Interactive Voice Response): This includes recorded voice prompts and messages on telephone systems (for instance, “Press 1 for Customer Service…”)

    In all these instances, the key feature of a voice-over is that the speaker is not seen by the audience. Instead, their voice is used to enhance or complement the visual elements or to provide information.

    What are the different types of Voice Overs?

    Voice-over work spans a range of industries and applications, each with its own requirements and styles. Here are some of the common types of voice-overs:

    1. Commercial Voice-Over: Used in advertising for television, radio, and online. These often require a persuasive tone to convince listeners to purchase a product or service.
    2. Narration Voice-Over: Used in documentaries, audiobooks, and instructional videos. The goal is to inform or entertain the audience. This type requires clear articulation and often a more neutral tone.
    3. Promotional Voice-Over: Similar to commercial voice-overs, but specifically used to promote events, products, or services. They are often found in promotional videos or event trailers.
    4. Animation Voice-Over: Used in animated films and television shows, this requires actors to create unique, character-specific voices.
    5. Video Game Voice-Over: Similar to animation voice-over, but specifically for video games. This can range from providing voices for characters to narration of game events or instructions.
    6. E-learning Voice-Over: Used in educational and training materials. These need to be informative, clear, and engaging to facilitate learning.
    7. IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Voice-Over: Used in automated telephony systems to guide callers through menu options. These are typically professional and clear.
    8. Dubbing: This involves replacing the original voice track in a film or TV show with one in a different language. It requires synchronizing the voice-over with the movements of the characters’ lips as closely as possible.
    9. Audiobook Voice-Over: The entire text of a book is read out loud by a voice actor or narrator. This requires good pacing and the ability to create different voices for various characters.
    10. Podcast Voice-Over: Used in podcasts for narration, character voices, or introductions and conclusions.

    Each of these types requires different skills and techniques. Some voice-over artists specialize in one or two types, while others may work across many different types.

    Here are some examples of where you might hear voice overs

    Voice-over work is incredibly diverse, spanning a range of media and industries. Here are some specific examples:

    1. Commercials: Almost every TV and radio commercial has a voice-over, often to explain the product, create an emotional connection, or provide a call to action. For example, actor Jon Hamm is known for doing the voice-over in Mercedes-Benz commercials.
    2. Movie Trailers: Voice-overs in trailers set the mood, introduce the main characters, and generally entice viewers to watch the full film. The late Don LaFontaine was known as “the voice of trailers,” with over 5,000 trailers to his name.
    3. Animation: Every character in an animated film or series is voiced by a voice-over actor. For instance, Tom Hanks provides the voice for Woody in the “Toy Story” series.
    4. Video Games: Voice-over actors bring characters to life in video games. An example would be Nolan North, who voices the character Nathan Drake in the “Uncharted” series.
    5. Documentaries: Narration in documentaries is a form of voice-over work. Sir David Attenborough is renowned for his narration in nature documentaries like “Planet Earth.” And, let’s not forget Morgan Freeman – Sir David Attenborough’s equally famous counterpart. What is a voice over in a documentary if it isn’t one of them? Well, there are many other talented artists. It’s just that these two are the gold standard.
    6. Radio Drama: While less common today, radio dramas rely entirely on voice-over and sound effects. “The War of the Worlds” radio drama from 1938 is a classic example.
    7. Audiobooks: The narration of books for audio consumption is voice-over work. Jim Dale, the voice of the “Harry Potter” audiobooks, is a famous example.
    8. Educational Content: Instructional videos, e-learning courses, and educational apps often use voice-overs to guide learners. For example, many online language learning platforms use voice-over artists to pronounce words and sentences.
    9. Dubbing: Films or series originally recorded in a different language are often dubbed over by voice actors. This is common practice in anime where English-speaking actors redub the original Japanese voices.
    10. Public Service Announcements (PSAs): These often use voice-overs to convey important public health or safety information.
    11. IVR Systems: The automated voices you hear when calling customer service lines are examples of voice-over work.

    Remember, this is just a sampling of the wide range of voice-over work available in the industry.

    Speechify – Create voice overs automatically with text to speech

    Text to speech technology goes hand in hand with voice over work. It’s a fantastic assistive tool that can read any digital text aloud. Speechify includes a voice over app, among many other services. It allows you to enter text and receive human-sounding voice overs for your video projects.

    It’s easy to use, features several reading speeds, male and female voices, and an easy-to-use interface. You don’t need a tutorial on how to use Speechify text to speech tools and voice over Generator. It’s perfect for beginners. Try Speechify for free today and start making high-quality voice overs.

    FAQ

    What is the purpose of a voice over?

    Voice over work has several different applications and purposes. But regardless of how you use it, the primary goal is to provide additional context to a video. Documentary narration is a type of voice over, but so are movie trailers and educational videos.

    What is voice over, and how does it work?

    What is a voice over is not a question that was asked so commonly even a few years ago. With the inception of AI and the growth of media and jobs, this is now a well searched question. A voice over is a production technique that uses a real person’s voice for off-screen use. A specific voice over recording usually comes after you complete the video portion of the project. It serves as an enhancement to what is happening on-screen.

    What is the difference between voice over and voice-acting?

    Voice-acting is a type of professional acting, but anyone can do a voice over. Professional voice over actors have the required training and proper enunciation for their line of work.

    What is considered a voice over?

    A voice over is a film trailer, narrated documentary, YouTube video essay, or even animated film. Any type of video content with an accompanying voice that serves as an explainer is a voice over.

    What are the different types of voice overs?

    There are so many different types of voice overs. Commercial voice overs are incredibly popular. Audiobook and video games industries also use this technique. Again, you’ll find voice overs in movie trailers, documentaries, promotional materials, e-learning, and social media platforms.

    What are some examples of voice over work?

    A voice actor lending their voice for a Pixar animated movie is an example of a voice over. Furthermore, a person recording an explanation for their work presentation is also a voice over. Someone explaining a video they made for YouTube using their own voice is voice over work.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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