What is voice-over?
Voice-over (also spelled voiceover or voice over) is a method that adds a voice which is not part of the narrative to a recording. It is usually associated with movies or TV series, but voice-over is also commonly used in other audiovisual media such as documentaries, audio books, or automated phone messages. You may have come across the intriguing term voice acting—this is a synonym for producing voice-overs!
You’ll certainly have encountered voice-overs many times in your life, perhaps without even being aware of it. Any time you hear a voice that’s off-screen, you’re dealing with a voice-over. This includes narrators in documentaries, radio commercials, cartoon voices, and GPS prompts in your car.
The specialists who record voice-overs are called voice artists or voice actors, and they often work for voice-over companies. They are trained professionals who are typically being recorded in a professional studio. (How do recording studios work? Read our comprehensive article and find out!) Some voice actors even have their own home recording studio set up so they can provide a high-quality service from the comfort of their own home.
At EHLION, our voice-over service is one of our core areas of expertise, along with our subtitling service, and of course our professional translation services. With our team of professional voice actors, we service a range of clients with different needs. We’ll be happy to explain the process in more detail in a personal consultation.
How do we define voice-over and what exactly does it mean?
What is voice-over and voice acting? Voice acting refers to a professional performing voiceovers or dubbing services. In other words, they provide a voice for use in a professional piece of audio work. This off-screen or off-stage commentary is recorded separately to the action you can see on screen or on stage. At no point is the voice-over narrator visible to the listener.
A related but different service is dubbing. While voice-over refers to audio added to any existing dialog, the process of dubbing replaces the original dialog with a translated version in another language. German viewers, for example, will hear their favorite TV show characters seemingly speaking German instead of the original language (typically English). The original speaker’s voice is completely removed, and the dubbing voice actor tries to synchronize lip movements with those of the actor shown on screen.
Another related but different service is subtitling. When watching a subtitled video, the viewer hears the audio in the original language and at the same time sees written translations appear at the bottom of the screen. In this area, clients can usually choose between investing in a subtitling service or dubbing; each market has their distinct preferences.
Voice-over, on the other hand, is usually a monolingual script being read out and recorded by a professional voice actor in a manner appropriate to the genre.
Types of voice acting
Voice acting is used for a variety of different purposes. They range from character narration to announcements, and from single-speaker to group recordings with a full cast.
Typical genres covered include voice-overs for:
- TV shows
- computer games
- audio books
- live events
- GPS instructions
- virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri
- documentary narration
- educational and training videos
- IVR (interactive voice recording) messages
- and many others.
How can I find a voice actor?
If your company or organization needs a voice actor, no matter the genre, EHLION will be able to assist you. As a large language services provider and voice-over company, EHLION offers voice-over and recording services for many different applications.
We work with a large network of vetted, experienced translators, editors, and voice-over artists. Our voice actors are trained and versatile, so we’re sure to have just the right voice talent for your specific needs. Whether you require a male or female voice, young or old, a serious or entertaining tone, someone for a short project or on a long-term basis—we’ve got you covered.
You tell us what you need, and EHLION will provide a professional speaker and a perfectly prepared output file in your desired format. It couldn’t be easier!
Demand and job opportunities for voice-over artists
The voice-over industry is huge and reportedly turns over some US$4 billion each year. The market for voice actors is not just limited to the entertainment industry anymore, with the technology sector increasingly incorporating voice-overs in their products. What’s more, marketing experts have also started to use more creative options to promote their clients’ brands. This has led to increased demand for voice-overs in the corporate environment, for example for large-scale corporate presentations.
The voice-over industry is very competitive, so starting out and finding those important first voice-over acting jobs can be a tall order. Many companies choose from their trusted pool of experienced voice actors, but with determination it is possible to make it as a voice-over artist.
To start out, creating a demo recording showcasing your skills is a good idea. You should also consider hiring an agent with the right connections in the industry to help you find voice-over work. EHLION is also always on the lookout for fresh voice-over talent, so do get in touch to discuss your options with us.
A professional voice-over artist is always learning and willing to evolve in line with the changes in the industry in order to maximize the opportunities available to them. An openness towards working in different genres is an advantage, at least when you’re starting out.
Clients looking for voice talent range from movie and television studios, to radio stations, advertising agencies, and even theatres.
Requirements and skills
It goes without saying that a pleasant voice is the key requirement for working as a voice actor. A smooth, natural voice is your biggest asset. In addition, being able to read and speak well is essential. Voice actors need to read a lot from scripts so should be confident and clear readers.
Still, a good voice only gets you so far. Voice actors usually take voice training lessons to fine-tune their instrument, so to speak, and to learn how to be a good voice over artist. Some even get acting lessons—it all helps the cause! After all, being a voice actor is akin to a kind of acting.
Depending on the genre, the techniques applied to voice acting can vary enormously. There is a huge difference whether someone narrates a serious audio book or provides a voice for a cartoon, for example. So, versatility and the ability to use your voice in different ways is another plus.
Voice-over careers never get boring as you’re always meeting new people and working with new scripts and subjects. It’s a career that will help you broaden your horizons, and you’re likely to learn a lot.
Voice acting is a unique career path and ideal if you like a varied role with plenty of opportunities for learning on the go. Importantly, voice-over work can involve both short and long-term projects. A voice-over for a thirty-second radio commercial, for example, will be a short project, but a narration for a whole documentary or a video game may take several months to produce. Flexibility is the order of the day!
What makes a good voice-over?
A good voiceover is one in which the voice actor speaks clearly with correct pronunciation. Their pace is appropriate and keeps the listener engaged. They use inflection and tone to avoid monotony. Ideally, the voice actor has pre-read the script several times and is familiar with the text so there are no stumbles. Where appropriate, the voiceover clearly showcases the different emotions of the characters on screen.
Naturally, professional equipment should be used, ideally in a recording studio, to ensure great sound quality and an outstanding voice-over performance. Read our magazine article to find out: How do recording studios work?
By the same token, voiceovers can turn out badly due to a number of different factors. These include:
- unprofessional equipment leading to inferior sound quality
- using the wrong tone of voice for the designated purpose (e.g., humorous, formal, matter-of-fact, excited)
- using the wrong rhythm and timing, so the audio sounds off
- speaking at an inappropriate pace, i.e., too fast or too slow
Watch this video to see a professional voice actor review both good and bad voiceovers.
What income can voice-over artists expect?
Voice actors are typically self-employed and get paid on a per-project basis, so there’s no annual voice-over salary like employees would get. But the advantage is that you can work according to your own schedule and enjoy huge flexibility. Once you’re established, you can choose only those projects you really enjoy and specialize in a particular niche if you wish.
Freelance project rates range from US$35 for a short local radio commercial, to US$250 – 350 for a 30-second commercial for a major market, and about US$2,000 – $5,000 per audio book recording. On average, a voice actor can expect to bring home around US$31,400 per year, ranging from approx. $18,000 for novices up $90,000 for experienced established voice actors.
Ultimately, you’re free to make as much money as you like, depending on your drive and marketing skills. If you’re ambitious, know that voice actor Nancy Cartwright, whose voice is behind several characters on The Simpsons, earns about US$400,000 per episode—that’s not bad going!
Voice-over possibilities in a nutshell
We encounter voice-overs everywhere. Unlike other pieces of recording, they are scripted narratives spoken by a professional, off-screen voice actor. Voice acting is a varied field with diverse opportunities. From informative documentaries to funny cartons or award-winning audio books—voice actors are in demand across the board. If you are a company considering booking a voice actor, speak to us.
When working with a large specialized language service provider like EHLION, you can be sure you will receive a high-quality product and service. You can also rely on us to have your voice-over recordings provided in multiple languages if necessary. We can even take care of translating your original text first and then overseeing the multilingual voice-over process for you. Should you require additional services such as game localization, marketing translation services, or other professional translation services, EHLION is your go-to partner!
Contact us today for a personal consultation to discuss how we can assist you!