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Voice over? It's Easy If You Do It Smartly

Updated on December 30, 2016

What is a Voice-over?

Voice-over is a production technique that includes a voice that is not part of the narrative, and is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations.

Voice overs have been used for decades in cartoons and various types of animation movies and shorts. Individuals who do voice overs on a regular basis understand that it is up to them to use their voice to bring the character or scene to life. While it is possible to use automated voices, they don't offer a personal touch to the scene and detract from the movie's appeal. Having the right person performing the voice over adds integrity, personality and character to the role and will make the movie much more intriguing.


Inflection is the emotion within the voice. A person who knows and understands the character can add a completely new dimension by inflecting their feelings and emotions into the part. They can increase the humor, deepen the sadness, and intensify the frustration or anger that will make the character stand out. A voice over artist understands when to add, increase or decrease the intensity of emotion so that whatever is happening is fully portrayed. When an audience goes to see a movie or short film, they want to feel what is happening. This is part of the reason that inflection is so important. It allows the audience to connect with the character on a personal level.


A person's tone during a voice over sequence will also have a direct impact on how well the audience takes to the picture. The wrong tone can make a character seem impersonal or robotic. Many different elements set the “tone” for a scene, but it is the tone of the person's voice that drives the point home and gives depth to the character. The tone is also used to heighten anticipation and maintain a level of suspense and intrigue. If inflection is the connection between the character and the audience, then tone is the driving force that carries both forward toward the climax of the film.

Know the Character

Anyone who is being considered to do a voice over for a specific character should be willing to learn as much about the character as possible. Are they perpetually grumpy or always happy? Do they like kids or do they prefer peace and quiet? Once they get to know the character on an intimate level, they will be able to add depth. Depth comes in the way of simple ad libs, noises, and small gestures that will make the character stand out and seem real.


Timing is also incredibly important. Noises, ad libs, or any other utterance that is not skillfully timed with the characters actions and movements can be a major distraction and cause the audience to lose interest rather quickly. Individuals, who are on the mark when it comes to timing, can create wonderfully animated scenes that capture the attention, as well as the heart of the audience.

Voice overs are not as easy as they sound. They take talent and skill to create a flawless performance. Individuals who have the knack for this line of work will often find themselves in high demand for a variety of different roles.


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