What is voiceover anyway?

As an actor who’s emerging in voiceover and making new connections in the business world, this conversation happens a lot:

“Sumara, what do you do?”

“I’m a voice actor.”

“… oh … What is that?”

So, if you’ve found yourself at my page wondering what exactly I do (or you’re one of my cousins or old friends thinking “what the heck is Sumara up to these days?”) … I’ll tell you.

My favourite dictionary, (the Oxford) defines voice-over as:

“A piece of narration in a film or broadcast, not accompanied by an image of the speaker” (see lexico.com)

A voice actor (or voice actress, voiceover artist, voice artist, voice talent, or just voiceover!) performs the spoken words in any type of media that needs a disembodied voice. And as much as I love the Oxford Dictionary, they seem to have missed some updates which mean that voiceover is not always to do with broadcast these days. There is certainly a lot of voiceover in film, TV, and radio, but the list of uses for a professional voice actor is pretty extensive:

  • radio advertising and promos
  • television advertising and promos
  • documentary narration
  • internet advertising
  • social media video campaigns
  • corporate narration, including company reports, internal training, B2B promos, explainer videos, and more
  • eLearning (those online courses where you can learn almost anything!)
  • audiobooks
  • animated film and television shows
  • gaming (PC, console, mobile) and visual novels
  • telephone on-hold and interactive voice response services
  • movie trailers
  • cinema advertising
  • event / expo / lobby advertising and promos
  • live announcements at award ceremonies, industry events, sporting events, conferences, fairs etc.\
  • text-to-speech applications (Siri, Alexa, navigation systems etc.)

Most people I speak to are not expecting the list to be that long – and I’m sure there are more. Fellow voice actors, let me know what I’ve missed!

I mean… it’s usually a nice enough padded room…

As for what voice artists actually do to get their voices into these situations – we like to joke that we spend all day in a padded room talking to ourselves.

It’s funny because it’s true.

A lot of work takes place in professional purpose-built studios – in radio and TV stations, ad agencies, standalone studios, media companies. Plus, most voiceover talent these days have a home studio of some kind. We can record and edit the narration you need, and send it off to you through the magic of the internet. Plenty of us here in two-thousand and nineteen do all or most of our work this way.

Like every other business run online, this means we can work internationally. All but one of my clients so far have been in Europe or the USA, and in some cases I have connected live with them via ipDTL or SourceConnect Now (magic, I tells ya!).

Now that you’ve learnt what a voice actor does, you’ll be noticing us all over the place. Disembodied voices everywhere!

Please check out my demos – for examples of what my disembodied (but full of character!) voice can do for your business.

Article first published on Linkedin 4 September 2019

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