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What Is A Voiceover Talent?

And other frequently asked questions about voice-over

Here are some frequently asked questions that folks often wonder about but are afraid to actually ask (for fear of looking silly) regarding Voice-Over Talents and the business of voiceover.

We don't judge. We're here to help media producers of every experience level.

Q: What is a Voice-Over Talent?

A voiceover talent is a person whose performance abilities and vocal qualities allows them to audibly communicate a script's basic message clearly to a listener and whose interpretive voice talents enhance a script's efficacy by creating - upon request - a persona, character or feeling within the mind of a listener.

Q: Where would I hear a Voiceover Talent?

Almost anytime you hear off-camera audio in a broadcast or business setting, you are hearing the work of a Voice-Over Talent.

Television and radio commercials are the most frequent places where you would hear a voice talent but you could also hear a narrator's voice on an e-learning presentation or when you are placed on-hold when you call a business or when you're watching a video at a trade show.

If you've ever listened to an audiobook, watched a documentary on TV or heard a voice in the airport say "There is no parking in the Red Zone," you've heard the work of a voiceover talent or voice talent.

Q: How do you judge if a Voice-Over Talent is good?

Determining the quality of a Voiceover Talent is more subjective than objective.

Certainly even the most disinterested party can hear a recorded voice on, say, a message on hold recording, and know by the vocal qualities that it's a well-meaning staff member plodding through a script as opposed to a professional voice talent. That's the objective part.

But within the realm of professional voice over talents, it becomes more subjective because it's primarily within the ears of the producer or business owner as to which professional voiceover talent possesses the perfect skill set to communicate the producer's message. If the business owner is happy with the voice talent and her customers seem happy with the voice...then the owner picked the right voice!

Q: Generally speaking, when hiring a Voice Talent, what should I be listening for?

Most often, voice talent get hired after someone has listened to their professional voice demo, which is a montage of anywhere from :60- :120 seconds of a voice-over talent's work. Often, a voiceover talent will customize their demos based on production categories. For example: a commercial demo is offered when hiring for radio or TV commercials; an audiobook demo is offered when hiring for audiobooks. When you compare the two demos - there are significant differences in the kind of performance and production you hear. It's usually most effective if you receive demos from voice talents customized to the type of production you are creating.

When auditioning and hiring a voice talent, certainly a performer's vocal sound will be an important factor in your decision...does a voice talent's voice type match the branding or communication message you are trying to create? You'll be able gauge that pretty quickly as you listen. The voice will either click with you in a positive way or it won't. Then you will want to listen to the variety of reads a voice talent offers in their demo. Do they present in their demo any variety or flexibility in their sound or performing styles or does it all pretty much sound the same? The value of this is solely dependent on your production's needs - some producers need one basic voice and some producers need a very flexible and creative voice talent to do more than one voice type.

Q: Is the quality of recording I would get from a Voice-Over Talent significantly different if its produced in a "professional" studio versus a "home" studio?

Socrates said it best when he opined: "It depends!" Some professional studios offer acoustical treatments and audio technology that are so far superior to many home studios that it would be a good choice to record in that environment. But, some professional studios haven't upgraded their technology and acoustics in a long time so their audio quality suffers...even though they are in an office setting, their work is not high quality.

To infer somehow that a home studio is not a professional studio would be incorrect. Many voiceover studios that are located in homes have high quality microphones, audio technology, computers and acoustical treatments that will ensure the audio you get from the voice talent's recording will be broadcast quality. And some homes studios have lousy audio quality.

And remember, in many cases, you'll never meet the voice actor you work with...technology means you can hire a voice talent from anywhere around the world.

You need to listen to the level of audio quality offered on a voice talent's demo while also closely managing your audio project at every stage to ensure the best audio quality. Don't be afraid to ask for referrals of past clients before starting a job to get a sense of professionalism and work quality.

Q: What is ISDN?

Integrated Services Digital Network is a technology that offers a set of communications standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network. It's application in the voiceover industry applies to its ability to allow two studios located anywhere in the world to transmit, receive and record a voice actor's work with high digital quality in real time.

It is especially handy when a voice over recording is very time sensitive or when a studio in, say, Los Angeles, California wants to record a talent in Buffalo, NY but wants to record the work of the Buffalo voice talent directly in L.A.

For many voiceover recordings, ISDN is not necessary but if it is required, it is necessary for both studios to have ISDN equipment; a studio or voice actor will advise you if they are an ISDN studio. There is often an additional charge for this service. There are similar services like Source-Connect and ipDTL that provides basically the same options and can work with ISDN studios.

If you have other voice over related questions, please feel free to contact us here.

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