Whether you are making an inspirational video or a corporate presentation, having great voice over is essential. A good voice over enunciates every word and conveys the right emotion without sounding robotic.
Sir David Attenborough and Morgan Freeman are famous for their clear articulation, making them sought-after voices for documentaries and other films. The first recorded voice-over was by Reginald Fessenden in 1900.
What Is Voice Over?
A voice over is the spoken audio on a video that’s not seen on screen. It can be used to explain, highlight, or explain a topic while still allowing the visuals of the video to shine on their own.
While voice overs can be used for many types of videos, they are most commonly used in narration or explainer videos. This is because these videos typically need a human voice to convey important information in an engaging way.
VO can also be used to add character or create an ambiance. This is often done by incorporating the voice of a famous actor or by creating a fictional character. It’s also a common feature in animated films, and most people are familiar with VO from movie trailers or commercials.
Having a script to work from helps keep the resulting voice over sound professional. This prevents long pauses, umms, and other mistakes that can diminish the quality of the recording.
Types of Voice Overs
Voice-over actors can perform in various different styles, depending on the project requirements. A voice actor’s ability to understand the needs of each type of project and deliver accordingly is essential.
Generally, there are two types of voice overs: narration and non-narration. Narration voice overs describe the action on screen and can also tell a story based on what is happening. Non-narration voice overs are informational and instructional.
In the ’70s and ’80s, TV movies began to use voice overs to add character dialogue when an actor was unavailable or too expensive to fly in. This was known as dubbing, and it revolutionized filmmaking.
During a recording session, it is important for voice over artists to stay relaxed and not move around too much. Moving too much can cause volume inconsistencies and breathing sounds in the recording. It’s also important for a voice over artist to take deep breaths from the diaphragm rather than the chest, which will minimize unwanted breathy sound effects.
Voice overs can capture the attention of audiences, but sustaining engagement can be difficult. Studies show that people begin to lose focus after 30 seconds, which is why it’s important to keep your audience engaged from start to finish.
The right narrative voice can elevate a script, making it more compelling and memorable. This is especially true in audio-only content, such as podcasts or online courses.
Video content, with or without narration, can also boost audience engagement. For example, Google Slides presentations use voice over to help explain complex topics. This helps viewers better understand the information presented and can increase retention rates by up to 80%.
Using an online recording tool, such as Audiate, can help you create engaging content. While you record, remember to speak slowly and clearly and to enunciate each word. A pleasant, friendly tone is also helpful to engage your audience. And don’t forget to pause occasionally to give your audience time to process the information.
Voice Over Compensation
Generally speaking, voice over actors can command high pay rates. Top talent like the actress who voices multiple characters on The Simpsons can earn about $400,000 per episode.
But, this kind of high-income work comes with time and commitment to the craft. It also requires that you set the right expectations with clients and make sure to negotiate for the rate you deserve on projects where you have a high-level of expertise and experience.
For example, video game voice acting often carries higher pay than standard commercials because it is more technically demanding. E-learning content, such as instructional videos and educational apps, often use voice overs to provide narration that facilitates learning. And IVR systems, such as those that guide callers through customer service menu options, use voice overs to provide natural and engaging responses.
Additionally, if you’re part of a union, your wages are governed by union rates. But, outside of that, voice over rates are largely subjective and depend on the type of work you do.