Voice over talent: an explanation

It is interesting to realize how many persons outside the multimedia community are not really familiar with the services provided by voice over actors, also known as voice talents, voice actors, voice artists.

Voice acting can be defined as the art of doing voice-overs or providing voices for animated characters in various works, including feature films, dubbed foreign language films, animated short films, television programs, commercials, radio or audio dramas, comedy, video games, puppet shows, audio books, documentaries, interactive voice response systems and automated announcements.

In Britain voice acting is recognized as a specialized dramatic profession.

Whenever I am asked to explain in detail my activities as voice over talent I try to be as concise and clear as possible – and it happened countless times in the last 25 years or so – but all this is to the detriment of a fair definition.

Actually, I could make a list of all the different kind of projects I participate in as a voice over actor to present the whole spectrum of possibilities, but that would be too long and tedious.

I wish I could show the following video fragment to someone asking me what a voice artist does. It is just an example but it clarifies many aspects of this profession, its many nuances. For this particular long term production I am also providing translation services, which makes me not only a voice over actor but also a translator specialized in localization projects.


The translation phase of this video production text is pivotal for the localization project, of course. You have to transform it according to a target language, Italian – my mother tongue – in this case, and culturally adapt it as well. Each decision you take as a translator has to be in line with the Italian language and the Italian culture so that it can mirror the source text in the best possible way.

Moreover it has to be even more harmonious and fluid, considering the fact that it will be recorded.

Video projects present a further restriction: their length. You have to make sure that the translated text is no longer than the source text; otherwise the voice over will result in a hasty interpretation or an impossible one, with consequent cuts and adaptation in the recording and editing phase.

Most of the time, here in Europe, English is the working language for multilingual projects; this means that I have to adapt the length of my translation to the original English text. Italian is 15% longer than English. Sometimes I have to opt for a shorter version in Italian which will never compete with the longer one I could produce in my melodious language. The Italian language needs many words to express a specific concept sometimes while the English language, rich as it is, can often be compact and concise.

Once the translation phase is completed and double checked it is time for me to enter the studio, in this case not my own recording studio but one of the best studios in The Netherlands, now in the center of Amsterdam.
In the recording session I interpret the script, shifting from a narrator voice to a typical voice over version where I try to slightly adapt my reading to the way the speaking person, Claudy Jongstra in this case, is expressing herself. I have to take care of time codes, natural pauses, modulation and pacing.

Working in studio with great professionals, with whom I have been collaborating for almost two decades, is a sheer bliss. The voice over director and audio engineer can steer my voice when needed and the process is streamlined by our experience and by our pleasure and pride in what we are doing.

I love this fragment because of its interesting and inspiring content, its educational aspect, its great art and images but also because of my special interest in art, nature, environment, and not to mention the role women can play in our society, especially nowadays.

I hope you enjoyed watching this video fragment.

Maybe you came up already with new ideas on how to use a voiceover for your business!

 

Simonetta Ronconi

Featured image credit: urbancomunicacion.com

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