Voiceover, all you always wanted to know but you never dared to ask

<p><strong>Voiceover, all you always wanted to know but you never dared to ask</strong></p>

“Voiceover”, “voice-over”, “voice over”. Firstly I thought of writing the article in Spanish, but the translation of the concept generated another shortcoming I want to avoid for now. But let’s stay confined to the English language and get started by the designation of the concept. I am quite unsure of how to write the term, so how would I describe it? Oxford Dictionary offers the following definition: “noun information or comments in a film/movie, television programme, etc. that are given by a person who is not seen on the screen.” Maybe this was true at the publishing time of the book, in the year 2000, but a lot of developments have occurred since then. Nowadays we could expand that definition to the recorded voice you can hear when reaching an answering machine, in computer programmes, videogames, etc.

Voiceover is in a way similar to translation, you do not realize its presence unless something goes wrong. Besides, sometimes several voiceover artists are needed for the same project, with different accents, different languages, different voice features... Very similar to a multilingual translation project, right? We could say that translation and voiceover could be closely related in specific projects and that it could be ideal for a translator to be able to provide this service in conjunction with translation and/or transcription, for example.

So if we are decided to expand our range of services and want to add voiceover to our list, what do we need? On the one hand, the proper set of skills. Not everyone has the necessary tone of voice or even attitude to do a particular voiceover. Some people are just shy or simply cannot get it right. So what do we need to do voiceovers? First of all, willingness, assertiveness and self-confidence. Then, to understand that what we reading is to be listened to in a context, so we must get the voice adapted: smile if it is time to smile; be serious, if it is its turn; or emphasize when requested to do so. All this wrapped up with a correct speed and the adequate clearness will give us the perfect voiceover artist. On the other hand, however, this is not all about the artist. Recording the voice cannot be done  on a common laptop with a microphone and a headset. For instance, external noise and breathing should be reduced and for that, at least a Home Studio or similar is a must. But this part will be explained in a later article, and will be presented by a Music Engineer himself.

Once we know what voiceover is and what we need to provide the service, we need customers who demand that service. As I mentioned before, there are different kinds of voiceover, so there is a variety of markets available. Depending on the age, gender, tone, etc. we can target the dubbing and narration market, in which the voice should copy the role of a narrator or an actor in films or drama, or be neutral in order to produce interesting interviews or documentaries. Voiceover involving different characters, accents, age-groups, etc. are complicated, but extremely in demand in the expanding market of videogames, cartoons and animation, for example.

Another important field where voiceover is essential is business. Marketing material is getting more and more dynamic every day. Visual effects and sounds make the messages get across faster than written words standing alone, so a marketing or commercial-oriented voice that can be played in any device, through the web, or added to video tutorials and presentations would be ideal in this market. In addition, IVR and on-hold messages are also important to improve the customer experience and loyalty, as well as creating and maintaining a good reputation of the brand.

And at last, but not least, e-learning. It has become one of the most popular methods in education and training, as gives the opportunity to virtually assist  in classes/lessons from all over the world. For this kind of recordings, the voice needs to transmit authority and knowledge, but also be warm enough to get to the student as much as possible. Another feature of e-learning courses is that they require a high-volume recording and mostly within a short deadline and several languages, so stress is an additional challenge for these brave voice actors.

As we can see, voiceover covers many fields. It is a fast-growing market to explore which can offer huge opportunities. Written language no longer stands alone, image and sound have become essential with regard to getting messages across to the audience. It sounds really exciting, doesn't it?


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