Types of voiceover work
"The voiceover world is expanding year on year. If you want to develop and sustain your voiceover career, it's ultimately important to keep up and understand what opportunities there are for different types of voiceover work"
"It's not uncommon to begin a voiceover career focussing on just one or two types of voiceover work and then after a few years, have a portfolio across multiple genres..... " - Guy Michaels, Director of Voiceover Kickstart
Various Types of Voiceover Work
As a professional voice actor these days, you need to be aware of the scope of the industry. Exciting and daunting in equal measure the voice acting industry is gargantuan. If you are near the beginning of your voiceover journey then head here to learn all about how to start a voice over career.
Check out this video from the free programme on the voiceover universe and how voiceover work opportunities can come about:
What is ADR Voiceover?
Filmmaking is a complicated process. Today, achieving desired effects involves a range of techniques and technologies. One vital aspect is ADR voice recording, as much of a challenge for voiceover artists as it is for producers. ADR is one of the more complex types of voiceover work.
If you’re interested in this field, the more you know about it, the better your chances of landing good ADR voiceover jobs and delivering them well. Start with the fundamentals below and work your way up from there.
So what does ADR Voiceover actually mean?
It stands for automated or additional dialogue replacement. What ADR does is overlay a movie’s vocal recordings with better ones, captured in a studio. It’s also referred to as “looping”, from the olden days when the new recording was on a loop of film that played repeatedly until properly integrated into the movie.
A common issue to keep in mind is ADR versus dubbing. The process is more or less the same, but their goals are different. Simply put, dubbing replaces a movie’s language, while ADR adjusts the existing vocal or audio elements, whether to correct or improve them.
Considering how much time, money, and effort it takes to create professional film, digital technology and its handy contributions to voiceover and ADR have been invaluable. Specialized tools can let you focus on the many decisions and technical work awaiting each project.
For example, what needs replacing? Is it the protagonist’s speech or a scene’s ambience? In the first case, the original actor or a suitable voiceover artist needs to record another audio version, perfectly synced with lip movements and other influential factors like physical motion and the environment.
The second scenario would bring in a group of artists to create audio for a particular scene’s background like a restaurant, bank, or mall. ADR isn’t just for covering mistakes or noises beyond filmmakers’ control. It’s meant to improve a movie’s overall effects and entertainment value.
What Goes Into Producing ADR Voiceover?
Each project is different. Depending on the necessary changes and your level of expertise, you could be working alone or in close collaboration with others. You may just need to make the recordings or even stitch the new audio into its scene, if you’re able.
Basically, the broader your skillset as a voice artist, the greater your value to employers. Not all filmmakers look forward to the extra expense, so the result has to be above reproach. Whether your ADR studio is at home or a client prefers you work from a chosen location, it helps to know exactly what equipment and techniques to expect or invest in.
ADR Voiceover Process
First, a project’s executives decide what scenes need fixing and how the ADR should be done. As the voice artist, it’s a good idea to watch the movie for context and acting inspiration. If not all of it, pay close attention to the dialogue you’re working on.
Recording different versions of the same section is common practice, so producers can pick their favourite takes. Some might give specifications like long pauses, intonations, or an accent. Feel free to add your own flair if it suits the scene and lip-sync. Additionally, you or the client can set up digital cues to help with your timing while acting.
What recording ADR dialogue should lead to are high-quality audio files that are easy to tailor into the perfect overlay. However, a studio without the right space or tools can’t do this, a key fact to remember if you plan on working from home.
Apart from a good microphone, headphones, and a large monitor or two, your studio must be soundproofed. The whole point of ADR is to create crisp audio, so any interference can be a problem.
Overall, the ADR production process is nothing without a professional video and audio software like Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere, Logic, Final Cut, Pro Tools, coupled with Source Connect to work remotely and seamlessly with the client wherever they are in the world. For audio software, go for one you can use fluently and without breaking the bank. The right software will be your best friend when recording and editing voiceover. Although generally the voiceover artist only needs to master the audio recording software, for ADR and similar voiceover work it’s also worth getting your head around video editing and being familiar with the interfaces of such software.
The final step in the process is making sure the scene and new audio fit well together. Careful planning and performance reduce the chances of ending up back in the studio for the same project.
ADR Voiceover Techniques
Succeeding in this industry is all about skill, focus, and determination. As tedious as it might get, each movie you study and contribute to is an experience and a chance at better opportunities. So, when approaching your next ADR voice casting, put your best foot forward.
Remember, the art of ADR is part acting and part strategy. Clients expect a convincing performance, but also an accommodating one that gives them everything necessary to complete their movie. With experience, you’ll become familiar with key techniques for ADR voiceover.
For example, synchronization must become second nature. The point of playing and replaying a movie before recording is to find the right pace and inflections. After a few projects, you should be able to do it faster, almost like muscle memory.
Timing is another skill to build, ideally by studying your movies. You benefit from more natural syncing, while any visual or audio cues can be set up more precisely. Then, there’s the matter of pausing, essential to voice acting as much as cutting and stitching digital audio files.
Finally, improvisation is a plus in the ADR business. Since we’re talking about recordings, it’s got less to do with spontaneous acting and more with quickly coming up with creative ideas—ones you can deliver. Some clients even depend on their voiceover artists to bring ideas to the session.
Keep Learning About ADR Voiceover and Its Technology
In this day and age, you can’t get far in most professions without embracing some gadget or another. Voiceover is creative on the surface, but its foundations are deeply technological. If you want to shine, make sure you train in a range of software and hardware, as well as voice acting. Become the best you can be and treat every single project with the attention it deserves.
What is Audio Drama Voice Acting?
If your voice is strong and versatile, you might do well working in radio and audio drama. This part of the voiceover industry is a popular one, however, which makes enriching your understanding of it that much more important.
Below you’ll find a brief introduction to the history and production of audio dramas. While deciding whether this is the sector for you, make a note of facts and tips, so you can apply them to your own journey up the voiceover ranks. Audio Drama is one of the most attractive types of voiceover work for trained actors for obvious reasons.
How Voice Actors Work in Radio and Audio Drama
The process is the same as any other voiceover job, except that audio drama plays demand more acting than corporate tutorials, for example. Producers might scout for voice artists or post ads asking people that fit certain criteria to audition.
Keep in mind that audio drama voice acting can be taxing. Depending on the script, you might be working solo or with other professionals, bringing the play to life with your vocals, music, and sound effects. That’s why a voice with range is so important, one suitable for drama, comedy, narration, and more.
All-in-all, actors work on their skills and stamina, not to mention connections in the industry. A striking portfolio can only do so much without promoting it into the right hands. So, it’s common for voiceover professionals to use social media as much as online communities to land audio drama jobs.
How the Audio Drama Industry Has Evolved
Voice acting for radio is almost as old as the invention itself. Entire plays were already being broadcast in the 1920s through the so-called theatrophone. Seeing how much audiences enjoyed them, the brains behind radio programmes developed dramas specifically for their medium.
According to Bookriot, the first show in the UK was A Comedy of Danger by Richard Hughes, aired in 1924. That same year saw the US’s debut in the form of Charles Sommerville’s The Wolf. And, of course, there’s Orson Welles and his narration of The War of the Worlds in 1938.
Countless more shows joined the Golden Age of radio drama. Over the years, TV and the internet took over as reigning sources of entertainment, but audio drama production companies found ways to compete, from creating irresistible shows to embracing new technology.
At the end of the day, audio drama podcasting has been the industry’s saving grace. Now, any device can play your favourite programmes while you travel, work, or relax. The trend’s growing popularity translates into a huge landscape of opportunity for voice actors, whether collaborating with companies or delving by themselves.
Audio Drama Production Techniques
On the voice acting side, there are many ways to increase your chances of getting cast. Perfecting as many audio drama techniques as possible is a great goal to start with. Firstly, think about your strengths and what you can improve on.
Scripts may contain monologues, dialogues, narration, and just ambient conversation. So, you must be able to adapt to the needs of each role. This includes articulation, timbre, and accent, which also depend on the type of story you’re dealing with.
Is it drama, mystery, comedy, or something else? A period piece, for example, usually involves particular tones and speech patterns. A whodunnit might have a range of characters and voices, while favouring a low and smooth cadence, especially in the protagonist, to build tension.
When working in radio and audio drama, the best approach is to treat every project as if you’re going on stage. Even though your audience can’t see your face, your voice acting still needs to be crisp and convincing in the recording studio.
In terms of how audio dramas are produced today, top shows might have you in a proper studio and mingling with producers and fellow actors. However, it’s not essential for a successful career in voiceover.
With connectivity at its peak, many artists around the world work from home studios, some more high-tech than others. There are even podcasters creating and voicing their very own shows with basic tools like Audacity and YouTube. If nothing else, it’s a great way to build your skills, while making a name for yourself.
Starting Steps for Audio Drama Voiceover Artists
There are limits to how bold you should be when job hunting in voiceover. To begin with, most companies don’t accept voice reels out of the blue anymore, but prefer more organized methods. Some turn to voiceover directories and social media, while others have online CV systems.
If you want to get the attention of specific names in the industry, then learn their policies and how to apply for roles in their audio drama plays. Otherwise, set up profiles on voice acting platforms and do your best to network. Either way, make sure your key skills are clear to see.
Apart from stating your relevant voice acting background, create audio or video clips that demonstrate your vocal range. And make sure your collection really is diverse. You can’t tell what producers are looking for at any given time, so the more insight they instantly get into your experience and vocal skills, the likelier it is that you’ll be invited to audition.
The next point to consider is how to produce these clips. Don’t underestimate the value of a home studio, no matter how basic. Specialized gear might cost you a bit, but gives you independence in the long run.
Finally, all these steps come down to your fundamental abilities. Build your voice’s strength, intonation, and clarity. Boost your acting chops too by practising with different scripts, joining classes, or doing voluntary voiceover jobs—what they lack in pay, they can make up for in experience.
Working in Radio and Audio Drama Takes Skill and Discipline
It’s never easy venturing into a new career. This is especially true in voiceover, but look at it as a challenge instead of an obstacle. You can have so much fun developing your talents in radio and audio dramas. That said, don’t lose focus as you maintain visibility and maximize opportunities. While you are here, why not explore other types of voiceover work?
What is Commercial Voiceover?
With so many mediums around, voice actors are sought out more than ever for all kinds of broadcasts. Commercial voiceover jobs, however, are among the most popular. They’re also highly competitive, so successfully joining that market demands knowledge and skill.
Let’s break down what voiceover for commercials really involves. Below you’ll find a brief definition and history, as well as insights on how it’s used today to influence audiences in their purchase decisions. For the voiceover artist, it certainly can be one of the more lucrative types of voiceover work.
What Is the Point of Commercial Voiceover?
At the end of the day, it’s ‘voiceover for advertising’. But the range of adverts that exists also diversifies the role of voice actors. For example, a banking ad for radio is treated differently from an ad for a game on YouTube. Each project works with its own tone, speed, language, target audience, and more.
Even so, everything comes down to one goal: promote a product and attract customers. Regardless of a project’s topic or medium, the priority of a commercial voiceover script and all other elements is to boost the brand’s visibility, appeal, and sales.
In terms of the commercial voice actor’s responsibility, he or she introduces a product or provides additional information about it. Additionally, they breathe life into the whole concept, drawing in the appropriate people and making the product’s usefulness believable.
Without a doubt, the commercial sector is a prominent part of the voiceover industry. Better yet, actors who make the cut can expect better pay, depending on factors like an ad’s buyout, distribution, renewal, and overall scope of the campaign.
How Did Commercial Voiceover Evolve?
The history of radio, TV, and recording affected the development of commercial voiceover. In the early 1900s, the radio was the latest major invention and source of entertainment for the masses. While Reginald Fessenden pioneered voice acting in general with his 1906 Christmas programme, announcements and adverts using voice actors were subsequently broadcast live between radio shows.
According to Britannica, advances in the wonders of magnetic tape a few decades later paved the way for audio recording to begin with. This allowed producers to capture ads and replay them. It was also an opportunity to make more commercial materials, in turn increasing the need for voice actors.
The evolution of TV alongside audio and video recording expanded the entertainment industry even more. Commercial ventures joined the bandwagon, gradually combining sound and visual elements to promote products a lot more effectively.
As digital recording and the internet joined the promotional market, a good voice’s power over consumers also became that much clearer. Many actors have become synonymous with ad campaigns over the ages, from Don LaFontaine to Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah. And their ranks continue to swell.
How Do We Consume Commercial Voiceover?
Today we get ads on TV, radio, social media, podcasts, and even movie theatres. Each of these platforms can broadcast a brand’s message, reaching dozens or hundreds of people at a time. That said, a positive impact isn’t always guaranteed.
A lot of work goes into creating a spot with the potential to affect audiences in a certain way. Choosing the right voice for the project plays an important part, but so does writing a good script, using effective audiovisuals, and directing it all into an engaging advert.
A well-made and well-placed ad can move people, as well as persuade them to trust and invest in a brand. The purpose of a commercial voiceover artist is to add a human touch to the information being offered—make the advert more relatable.
Whether it’s through a visual or auditory medium, we consume messages we enjoy or connect with, even when we know that we’re dealing with promotional content. And the best ads don’t need more than a few minutes (or seconds) to imprint themselves in consumers’ minds, using drama, humour, or a more direct approach.
Take Nike, for example, delivering one powerful ad after another. Their emotional and social messages, which often include subtle yet compelling voice over, don’t necessarily push particular products. Instead, they associate their brand with positive social change, earning our approval even more.
How Does Commercial Voiceover Influence Its Audience?
To reach the skill required to dominate the ad sector, actors train their voices, accents, speed reading, and other qualities, so they can make the best possible impression on different producers and audiences. Commercial voiceover practice scripts are a common training tool that present a range of techniques and scenarios designed to sway people.
Ideally, when a new project comes along, the voice actor is ready to tackle its individual demands. What these depend on the advert itself. Is it corporate or casual? Is its target demographic young or mature? What does it discuss?
A funny ad about a mobile gaming app, for example, can be more memorable with everyday speech, a bright tone, and fast pace.
Promoting insurance services, on the other hand, needs a firm and professional cadence to inspire confidence in people that might be more serious and open to facts rather than laughs.
Then, you have audiences interested in more complex or intimate topics, like mental health, in which case smooth, slow voices have a higher chance of getting through.
To make things trickier, the copy a voice-over artist receives for an ad won’t always specify everything it needs. That’s where all that training comes in. Whether it’s for a monologue or dialogue, a skilled actor must be able to look at a script and instinctively summon appropriate rhythm and inflection for the benefit of his or her listeners.
Knowledge and Practice Make for a Bright Future in Commercial Voiceover
How do you get a voiceover job that pays well and keeps you on your toes? Get into commercial voiceover. It’s not easy, but understanding where the industry came from can help as much as strengthening your vocals and specific techniques at the microphone.
Continue gathering insights and preparing yourself for a difficult but very rewarding challenge. Don’t forget to keep building your portfolio too—proof of your experience and a great source of self-esteem when you need it.
What is Gaming Voice Acting?
For many, gaming is one of the most exciting types of voiceover work. The video game industry is huge and so are its opportunities for voice actors. This also means intense competition and high standards. If you want to work in triple-A games, for example, you’ll need to prove yourself more than vocally.
Below are essential facts you need to know about voice acting for games. Make a note of trends and key aspects of the industry, not to mention skills you should work on. Keep paying attention to all these factors as they change with the gaming market.
How Voice Actors Work in Video Games
Giving your voice to characters — protagonists, NPCs, narrators, and beyond — is the fundamental responsibility of video game actors. Very often, voiceover artists take on multiple roles in a single title, broadening their range and paycheck. This is a wise strategy in maintaining a steady income through voiceover.
Before landing a prominent role, you might serve as a voice in the background or guiding users on mobile apps, but don’t underestimate these steppingstones. Voice acting for video games comes with so many prospects across genres and platforms that you could make a living by focusing on minor roles alone.
If you’re aiming for the top, however, you can look forward to almost full-on ‘acting jobs’, the best of which could even have you as a model for your character’s appearance, movement, and mannerisms. So, training your face and body as much as your voice is a good idea when preparing for the gaming sector.
Scale of the Gaming Industry
Think about all the platforms available today. Between PC, console, mobile, and VR/AR technology, not to mention cloud gaming and eSports, it’s no surprise that the market’s value exceeded £110 billion in 2020.
As it reaches for an estimated £214+ billion by 2026, Mordor Intelligence also reports that big brands like Sega, Ubisoft, and Atari have joined cloud distribution services to better accommodate gamers. Nvidia GeForce Now even released 19 games in May 2020, further demonstrating an urge for faster production and enhanced gaming experiences.
This benefits the voiceover industry too as the rate at which voice acting jobs for video games roll out has doubled. If you add that to the variety of categories, storylines, and vocal demands out there, you can see how much voiceover artists can gain with the right training and choices.
Voice Is Now an Integral Part of Many Games
Characters in video games always needed voices. Charles Andre Martinet voiced Super Mario since the 1990s. Eric Idle is Discworld’s Rincewind, and Kristen Bell played Lucy Stillman in the first three Assassin’s Creed games.
What has changed over the decades is the quality of characterization and, therefore, voice acting for games. More than ever, developers want to create immersive stories with compelling characters, relationships, plot twists, moral consequences, and so on.
As a result, modern projects aim for more interesting voiceover scripts that video game actors and actresses can enjoy, even for NPC roles and narrators. In fact, players now expect a certain degree of character development and can lose interest in titles that don’t deliver. The trend is clearly here to stay.
Other Memorable Voices in Video Games
As already mentioned, top productions today like to mould digital characters from their actors, pushing voiceover artists beyond reading from a script. A great example is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Melina Juergens earned the Bafta Games Award for Performer in 2018 for fleshing out the titular role.
But it’s not just adventure and RPGs that put more effort into creating memorable characters. First-person shooters are stepping up to enrich their action-packed titles with powerful voices like those of Jeff Goldblum and Kiefer Sutherland.
The former plays Nero Blackstone in Call of Duty: Black Ops III, while the latter went from two Call of Duty titles into Metal Gear V to voice Big Boss. Many more celebrities, from Samuel L. Jackson to Mark Hamill, join projects and boost their entertainment value.
It’s hard to believe there’s any room in the industry for new voiceover talent. That’s why it’s reassuring to hear about actors making a name for themselves through video games more than movies or TV shows.
For example, Alix Wilton Regan stood out in indie game voice acting, thanks to titles like RuneScape and Divinity: Original Sin. She has since participated in Cyberpunk 2077 and the Dragon Age franchise, making her voice a familiar one in the industry. Such success stories are great to follow while voice acting for games.
How to Start Out in Video Game Voiceover
You’ll find gaming jobs in the same places as any other voiceover work. However, it may be worth keeping an eye on video game developers, publishers, and other experts. Follow them on social media and subscribe to newsletters as calls for voice actors might show up there too.
In the meantime, build your voice’s strength and versatility, if not your acting skills as a whole. It’s good to be prepared for any kind of gaming project. In terms of practice, you can mimic movie dialogue, read out playscripts, dramatically narrate books, and study characters in popular video games.
Explore characters’ design and vocal qualities. Learning your way around a studio’s development process and technology is a great way to approach the question of how to get into voice acting for games. You want to impress employers with your knowledge as much as your voice.
Grow your brain and portfolio, but don’t forget about keeping your vocals healthy. As one of the more gruelling types of voiceover work, you should also get to know how to prepare for and endure recordings. Your career’s lifespan depends on it.
Make the Most of Video Game Voice Over Tips
Since video games are stories in their own right, memorable and relatable characters are very important. They draw players in and add depth to the whole experience, whether they’re wielding a sword or gun, a touchscreen or console controller. Take the time to master voice acting for games, so you can fully embrace the fun yourself.