Do you know who Nolan North is? The name may not ring a bell. But Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, and Halo Wars probably do.
Seth MacFarlane? Yes, he's the funny guy behind Family Guy. But, he's also known as Peter, Stewie, Brian, and Quagmire on the show. And let us not forget the titular character, Ted from the 2012 movie.
For billions of people, Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker. But, still millions know him as The Joker from various Batman cartoons.
Voice acting goes beyond video games, movies, and cartoons. Videos, radio commercials, audiobooks, and even voicemails feature voice-over work.
If you're in the market for a voice actor, you need to know that it's not a one-size-fits-all gig. Likewise, it's more than reading a few lines.
There are certain vocal qualities and other qualifications to look for when you're hiring voice-over talent. At least, if you want to produce the best content possible.
In this guide, we go over the 10 factors to consider when hiring a voice actor.
The thing about being a voice actor is that it's not a career based on degrees or formal education. It's a career based on experience.
While training is preferred, it's more on-the-job than anything else. A lot of voice actors got their start as radio interns back in the day. They learned from the on-air jocks how close to get to the mic and to be mindful of plosives.
Over time, they may have gotten behind the mic themselves or moved on to another medium. Whatever avenue they chose, you want it to be something involving acting.
Is the voice-over artist flexible? What kind of voice characteristics do they have?
Can they change their tone and play a villain in an audiobook as easily as line a local car dealership commercial?
It's not a must, but having voice-over talent that can speak with different accents is also ideal. This just adds to their versatility which makes them available for several different jobs.
Like versatility, range is also important. We're not talking so much about vocal range as acting range. After all, you're hiring a voice-over actor which means they need to know how to act!
You need to find voice-over talent that is consistent. This is for all aspects -- vocal quality, timing, and availability!
It's understandable that a good VO actor will be in high demand. But, if you're constantly having to change your schedule around to fit theirs, it isn't worth it.
They also need to show consistency in their vocal qualities. It does you no good to hire talent based on one aircheck. So, check out several before you commit.
Did you know voice actors exert themselves just as much during quiet scenes as they do during loud ones? VO actor Courtenay Taylor suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage voicing a video game last year. She wasn't belting out a primal scream, though -- it happened while she voiced whispering lines.
No matter if the talent shouts, whimpers, cries, or whispers, they have to deliver believable results and true human emotion. The entire scene hangs in the balance.
They also have to speak with a clarity regardless of the type of emotion they're voicing. It may sound easy, but how many times have you gotten excited and someone said, "Slow down! I can't understand you!"?
You won't ask that of a good voice-over actor.
While you're listening to demos and audition tapes, make sure you pay attention to the actor's enunciation as well.
Everyone gets tongue-tied every once in a while, but you cannot hire a voice-over actor who sputters through a recording. It may sound harsh, but it's true.
Having exceptional enunciation in voice-over work is basically voice over 101. It's where the most training comes in. If you can't get a feel for a talent's enunciation based on the demo they sent, write up some lines and have them voice them as a mini-audition.
Choose words that are difficult to pronounce. Squirrel, penguin, and rural are a few words many people struggle with.
Another speech quality to look for is articulation. But, you want it to sound natural, not forced.
While you may think this is the same as clarity, it's a little different in the sense that you want them to have a nice flow to their speech.
Of course, filler words are absolute no-no's. If you run into a VO artist who injects "umm" and "uhh" into their lines, kindly show them the door.
Pacing and timing are also vocal qualities to look for when you're searching for talent. Whether they're narrating your video or voicing a commercial, they're on a time limit.
If they have 15 seconds to deliver an ad liner, they cannot sound rushed. This usually happens when they start out speaking slowly at the beginning of the recording and start running out of time towards the end.
Make sure the talent you're considering know how to pace themselves for the time they're given for their line(s).
Of course, you should never hire a voice actor only based on their resume. There are too many factors that come into play.
But, their resume will give you a good idea of what work they've done in the past. This helps you gain a sense of their experience and what VO work they seem to enjoy doing or are the best at.
It also shows you if they have repeat clients. This may give you an idea of how easy they are to work with.
Money should never be your only deciding factor when hiring voice talent. But, as cliche as it may be, you really do get what you pay for.
Remember, you're hiring a skilled and trained professional who will give you exactly what you're looking for. They'll have all the qualities we've outlined which means fewer mistakes. Fewer mistakes mean your content gets recorded and produced quicker.
If you're unsure what going rates are, simply ask for a quote!
You may have some vocal qualities you're looking for that we didn't list above. That's great! The more due diligence you do upfront, the fewer issues you'll run into during crunch time.
We're confident that regardless of the qualities you're looking for, we have a voice talent that will tick all your boxes!
Start by checking out our voice talent samples. Once you find the one that fits your needs best, contact us and let us know! We'll work with you on the specific details and give you a quote.
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