A voice over, often abbreviated VO in script notation, is a narrative technique in which an unseen actor’s lines are heard over visual elements in a movie or commercial. The narrator of a documentary or the announcer introducing a talk show host would be considered a voice-over artist.
Not all voice talents are created equal. Thus, anyone considering hiring someone as their vocal talent should consider exactly their own needs. One type of voice over production may require a commercial “TV promo” voice, while another may require more theatrical skills. Additionally, specific skills aside, not every personality is right for every type of voice over production.
A voice talent style, which may be thought of as a TV promo voice, can be suitable for short spots. Professional voice announcers normally work well in commercials, since time is quite limited and the object is to get a potential customer’s attention quickly. This is not a soothing voice—it is the type of voice that can cut right through fantasies about what’s for lunch or worries over what your boss will do when you tell him your computer ate your report. While it may be possible, even pleasant, to listen to a voice like this for a few minutes, it may not be desirable for longer periods of time. It may not be a good idea, for instance, to have someone with this voice type to read an entire audio book, especially if the book is, for example, a romantic novel, or children’s fiction. For that type project, you may need more of a theatrical voice-over. A vocal talent suitable for reading a novel has to be able to hold people’s attention for long periods of time—hours and hours if need be. They must be able to use their voices to create a certain ambience, to make narration sound different from dialogs, and slightly distinguish between characters without sounding silly, unless, they need to sound silly. They have to have the sort of voice that is not grating, yet not so soothing that it puts people to sleep. They should be able to voke feelings of warmth, or of anger, or fear.
Whatever is appropriate in the course of the tale, or radio drama podcast. Selecting a voice talent is much more complex a thing than simply choosing between two types of voice-over artists. It’s not a simple case of saying, “Well it’s a commercial for screwdrivers, so I’ll take any one of you four over there”. It’s important to consider each voice actor’s style and personality, because each will make the project sound completely different if, even if they have the same basic talents. These are but a few things that should be considered when looking for voice over talent. It is just like hiring someone for any type of job—two people are going to do the same thing a little bit differently.
It is important to think about the basic characteristics of the voice actor carrying out your project: gender, voice type, age, to name a few. It’s always a good idea to audition a few voice talents, and having them read your script. Additionally, it is wise to consult with a vocal producer, who may be more familiar with the vocal talents’ within their pool, and their abilities.