Voice Acting Terms: A Glossary for Navigating the Industry




Entering the realm of voice acting can be like embarking on an adventure, encountering a world of specialised terms and industry-specific language. Whether you’re an aspiring voice actor exploring your skills or a seasoned professional looking to expand your vocabulary, understanding ‘voice acting terms’ is essential. It’s not about appearing knowledgeable; it’s about effective communication with fellow voice actors, directors, sound engineers, and clients.

This glossary acts as your guide to the sometimes confusing language of voice acting. By acquainting yourself with these terms, you’ll be better prepared to tackle work as a voice actor, interpret audition scripts, and instructions during recording sessions. You’ll also feel confident discussing aspects such as microphone techniques, EQ settings, and compression with sound engineers to ensure your recordings are of the highest quality. So dive in and uncover the essential voice acting terms!

Voice Acting Terms

Essential Voice Acting Terms

ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement): The process of re-recording dialogue after filming, often facilitated by remote recording technology (formerly via ISDN, now commonly using Source Connect or ipDTL).

Essential Voice Acting Terms - ADR

Announcer: A type of voice actor who specializes in presenting information, introducing segments, or narrating commercials.

Audition: The process by which voice actors try out for roles, typically by reading the script provided in the casting call.

Audition Sides: Short excerpts from a script that voice actors use to prepare for and showcase their talent during an audition.

Booking: The act of securing a voice actor for a specific project, often involving a negotiated session fee.

Callback: A second audition for a voiceover role, typically with fewer actors competing, often involving more challenging material or interaction with other actors.

Casting Call: A public notice announcing that a voiceover role needs to be filled, often specifying details about the character, project, and audition requirements.

Cold Read: An audition where a voice actor is given a script and asked to perform it on the spot with little to no preparation, testing their sight-reading and acting skills.

Compression: An audio processing technique used to reduce the dynamic range of a recording, making loud sounds quieter and quiet sounds louder.

Copy: The script or text that a voice actor will be reading, including dialogue, narration, or other vocal elements.

Demo Reel: A compilation of a voice actor’s best work, typically 2-3 minutes long, used to showcase their talent, range, and experience to potential clients and casting directors.

Direction: Guidance given to a voice actor by a director during a recording session, offering feedback, suggestions, and adjustments to shape their performance and achieve the desired result.

Dry/Clean Recording: A recording of a voice actor’s performance without any added sound effects, music, or processing, used for editing and mixing in post-production.

Dub: The process of replacing the original dialogue in a film or video with a new recording, often in a different language.

Dynamic Range: The difference in volume between the loudest and quietest parts of an audio recording.

Studio Voice Acting Terms

EQ (Equalization): The process of adjusting the balance of different frequencies in an audio recording.

Glossary: A list of terms and their definitions, like this one, specifically related to the voice acting industry.

Improvise: To create dialogue or actions spontaneously, without a script or pre-planned direction.

ipDTL: A modern alternative to ISDN, this technology allows for high-quality, real-time audio transmission over the internet for remote recording sessions.

Jargon: Specialized language used by a particular profession or group, such as the terms in this glossary for the voiceover industry.

Kill Fee: A partial payment made to a voice actor for a project that is cancelled or postponed after they have been booked, usually a percentage of the agreed-upon fee.

Mic (Microphone): An electronic device that converts sound waves into electrical signals, used for recording voice actors.

Microphone Technique: The proper way to use a microphone to achieve optimal sound quality, including positioning, distance, and vocal projection.

Pickups: Re-recording specific lines or phrases after the initial recording session, often to address mistakes, improve performance, or make changes to the script.

Plosive: A burst of air caused by the pronunciation of certain sounds, like “p” or “b,” that can create a popping sound in a recording.

Post-Production: The phase of audio or video production that occurs after the initial recording, involving editing, mixing, adding sound effects and music, and finalizing the project.

Re-Record: To record something again, often to correct mistakes or improve the quality of the original recording.

Residual: A payment made to a voice actor each time a commercial or program they worked on is aired, in addition to their initial session fee.

SAG-AFTRA: The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the union representing voice actors and other media professionals, advocating for fair wages, working conditions, and benefits.

Scratch Track: A temporary recording of a voiceover, often used as a placeholder during animation or video production, providing a rough guide for timing and performance before the final recording is done.

Session Fee: The agreed-upon payment for a voice actor’s services during a recording session.

Sound Booth: A specially designed, soundproofed room where voice actors record their lines, minimizing external noise and ensuring optimal audio quality.

Sound Effects: Recorded or electronically generated sounds used to enhance a production, such as footsteps, door slams, or explosions.

Sound Engineer: The technical expert responsible for operating recording equipment, adjusting audio levels, and ensuring a clear and high-quality sound recording.

Source Connect: A popular software for remote recording sessions, enabling real-time, high-quality audio transmission between voice actors and studios.

Voice Acting: The art of performing voiceovers, using one’s voice to create characters, narrate stories, or deliver information.

Voice Actor (VA): A person who uses their voice to create characters or narrate stories for various media, including commercials, animations, video games, audiobooks, e-learning modules, and more. Also referred to as voice talent.

Voiceover (VO): A production technique where a voice is recorded to narrate, explain, or provide commentary for a project, either on-screen or off-screen, enhancing the viewer’s experience or delivering information.

Walla: The sound of a crowd murmuring or talking indistinctly in the background of a scene, creating a sense of realism and atmosphere.

Warm-Up Exercises: Vocal exercises performed before a recording session to prepare the voice and prevent strain, including stretches, scales, and articulation drills.

Word or Phrase: The basic unit of language used by voice actors to create their performances.

As we’ve journeyed through this comprehensive glossary of voice acting terms, it’s clear that mastering this specialised language is key to unlocking a successful career in the industry. By understanding these voice acting terms, you’ll not only gain credibility but also enhance your ability to collaborate effectively with clients and colleagues alike. So, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, keep this glossary handy as a reference to navigate the ever-evolving world of voice acting terms.