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a voiceover artists sits with his back to the camera. he is recording using a microphone, pop filter, and headset. A computer screen is lit up in front of him

How Voiceover Artists Bring A Human Touch to Video Creation

Voiceover artists support the business of video creation by lending their acting, business, and creative skills to video projects. Their work can be heard anywhere videos play—from children’s cartoons to animated explainer videos. Understanding how to hire and work with voiceover artists is core to the business of video production.

To get an inside look at the voiceover industry, we spoke to Noelle Romano. Noelle is a voiceover artist with a BFA in drama. As the former head of the VO Department at Animation Collective, she oversaw casting and recording. Now she’s an independent artist with a home studio, a husband who owns a professional recording studio, and an impressive range of commercial, character, promo, and narration credits.

What is Voiceover: Art or Business?

Noelle says that voiceover is both an art and a business. The most successful voiceover artists are those who take a business-minded approach. They know how to market themselves and interact professionally with clients.

“It’s not just about your talent and your craft,” Noelle says. “It’s about doing all the things necessary to run a business and stand out in the marketplace.” 

For example, Noelle has a website that shares details about her background and studio setup. It also includes plenty of samples, so potential clients can get a sense of her voice and range. And it’s quite a range. Noelle was once a talking mailbox on the children’s cartoon Blue’s Clues, and now does a lot of work for medical and technical training videos.  

How to Cast Voiceover Artists

There are dozens of websites that can help you find and cast the right voiceover talent. At IdeaRocket, we use VOPlanet. Casting sites allow you to post a job and some sample text. Often within minutes you can start to review auditions. For larger or more specific projects, you might go through agents who can help you cast premium talent. Either way, there are a few elements that can help you make an informed decision.

Review samples

Professional voiceover artists have samples they can share with you. Make sure to listen to several samples to get a sense of the artist’s range. The two videos linked below both feature Noelle’s voiceover work. The first is a conversational YouTube Creator video while the second is a much more technical explainer video for Thermo Scientific. 

Ask for an audition

Samples can give you a general sense of the artist’s voice and range, but auditions are more specific. Whether live or pre-recorded, auditions help you understand how a VO actor will approach your project. 

Ask about their recording setup

Quality equipment produces professional-level sound. Ask about where the voiceover artist records and what their setup looks like. They should have a professional quality microphone and an acoustically treated studio. 

Have a conversation

Talk to the artist about how you’ll work together, what kind of direction they like, and what to expect from the process. 

“I always wish there was more vetting going on because I think that once you work with someone and see how you vibe with them, that can dramatically change your end result,” Noelle said.

She cautions against getting too attached to a specific voice. Range, ability to take direction, and overall professionalism are just as important. 

If you have specific preferences, make them clear beforehand. At IdeaRocket we usually ask for recording settings where the noise reduction is not so high that it removes the breaths, which we feel makes a recording feel more real and approachable. Also, we prefer to be able to add the reverb in post so that we can have some control over it.

When to Start Hiring Voice Actors

Noelle has a few clients who contract with her at the very start of the project. Mostly, these are clients working on tight production times. The majority of clients reach out to her after the script and storyboarding is complete. 

Her turnaround time for commercial projects tends to be around two weeks if a script is finalized and ready to record. More complex projects like educational videos and feature-length content take a bit longer.

If you know you want to work with a specific artist, contact them and get on their calendar early. This will help your production stay on schedule and ensure you get the VO artist you want.

Work With a Voiceover Artist Successfully

A professional voiceover artist records the script you’ve written and delivers a finished audio track. The video producer may want to do some additional mixing, but the delivered track should be of production quality. 

You can get the best quality work from a voiceover artist by giving them everything they need to do the work. This includes: 

  • A finalized script. Even small changes to the script can require a whole new recording. Always try to provide a finalized script to your VO actor.
  • Live direction. If possible, try to listen live when your VO actor is recording. Real-time direction on tone and pacing minimizes back-and-forth.
  • Provide samples of work you like. Share any audio clips that match the tone or style you’re looking for. “Understand that we’re not mind readers,” Noelle says. “To have an example of what you want is so much more useful than a list of descriptors.”
  • Music and storyboards if you have them. If you’ve already chosen music, sharing it with your VO actor can help them find the right pace and tempo. “Sometimes, if they know what they’re using, I’ll pipe it into my headphones as I’m recording,” Noelle said.

One of the most helpful things you can do is to share with the artist why you chose them. Was it a particular sample, their overall vocal quality, or something about their audition that really caught your attention? When your voiceover artist knows what you liked, they can do more of it.

The Pitfalls of AI Voiceover

The voiceover industry is one of the many creative professions targeted by AI. Many voiceover artists are concerned about how AI might affect their industry. Fortunately, many clients and platforms are reassuring artists that their voices will not be duplicated or used to train AI. Overall, many clients seem to prefer working with a real person and giving direction. 

Even so, Noelle says it’s too early to tell how AI technology will affect business over the long-term. “Am I running a very successful Blockbuster store in a Netflix world? We’ll see.” 

Noelle encourages everyone to keep in mind that great voiceover only sounds effortless. “If it looks easy to you, it’s probably because that person who makes it look easy has had a lot of experience and a lot of training.” 

At IdeaRocket, we know that quality voiceover can elevate a video. When we produce a video, we always strive to find the best voiceover actor for the role. Contact us to start making your next explainer video, animated commercial, HR video or healthcare video

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