What is Voice Over?

Is it just reading words on a page? Nope. I can get anyone in my studio parking lot to read words on a page for me. I’m looking for something more. Oral interpretation. It’s voice acting. A very specialized skill set. It requires talent, training, directability, an ear and imagination.

Now you might say acting is acting. Film. Stage. Video. But it’s a little different in a soundproof isolation booth. We’re working with a lot of layers here, like text and subtext which yields emotional color, plot development, character development, pacing, energy, etc.

The real process is internal. It’s never just about words on a page. Because without your unique interpretation what do you have? Black words on a white page. An empty voice. It’s two dimensional. Do they make special glasses for movies in 2D? I don’t think so. Because two dimensions are flat. No emotional depth.

Do you want to live in black and white? Or color? We move through a scene, adding emotional and psychological color to the stark black and white words on the page. Adding that third dimension of emotional depth. And if you’re not, I don’t want to hear it. It bores me.

My movie analogy isn’t by accident. It’s cinematic. Nothing less. I see it on the movie screen in my mind. If I’m doing my job right, I completely forget I’m in a sound booth and I’m transported to another place. Maybe another country, another time. One thing’s for sure. I don’t think I’m just a guy standing in a soundproof booth, barking words into a chunk of metal.

If the scene takes place in a restaurant, when I walk into the voice booth, I see and feel the atmosphere. I hear the sound of the knives and forks hitting the plates. I smell the garlic, I see the single red carnation in the little glass vase, the candle on the table and the guy plying his date with food and drink. I hear the dude who’s had three too many telling that same story too loud. The two college students fixing the world’s problems over a glass of vino. These sights and sounds are just the starting point. That feeds my imagination. And my imagination becomes my eyes.

This is the real work. Using my imagination to filter the words on the page through thoughts and feelings and projecting on the screen in my mind. Creating a scene. Something intriguing, funny or warm. Something compelling.

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The Evolution of Voice Over

7:30 a.m… I’m heading to the Voices Carey studio in a bit to record more phone system messages for the rebranding of Brink’s Home Security to the new handle- Broadview Home Security. It’s a big and ongoing project. We’ve been on it for months. These are pickups. The last big session we did was comprised of 285 individual IVRs.

No more Carolina Panthers promos this season for my North Carolina “superstation” as the Panthers are done. They did finish strong though, beating the Saints 23-10.

The business continues to evolve. I saw one Texas agent asked talent if they would work as extras on a casino commercial project shooting in Oklahoma. Two 12-hour days for 600 bucks. Not a whole lot of money. Of course, getting work is an actor’s main issue in our ever-changing industry. But now we really have to work to maintain a decent rate, too.

Had pretty good ’09 despite the soft economy. The VO work really fell off the second week of December. But it’s always light that time of year. Lucky for me I wear a lot of hats. So, studio services, creative services, coaching talent and demo production keep me busy. Also, I’ve been putting in a lot of hours on the rollout of my new website in a few weeks.

One area I see no slowdown in is development of new animation projects. Especially for teenage voice actors, particularly female. A couple of girls I coach and produce have had auditions for new Cartoon Network and Disney shows virtually every week for the last few months. Ah. If only I was 18 and looked good in knee-high boots…