What does a voice actor do?

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What is a Voice Actor?

Voice actors are performers who use their voice to bring characters to life in animations, video games, films, television shows, commercials, radio dramas, audiobooks, and other media. Skilled in vocal expression, timing, and characterization, they convey emotion, personality, and depth through a variety of tones, accents, and inflections.

Some voice actors, such as Mel Blanc, Nancy Cartwright, and Mark Hamill, have become synonymous with their most famous roles, leaving a lasting impact on generations of fans.

What does a Voice Actor do?

A voice actor reading from a script.

Duties and Responsibilities
These are the primary responsibilities of a voice actor:

  • Script Study and Interpretation – understanding and interpreting scripts to accurately portray characters and deliver lines effectively
  • Character Voice Creation – developing unique and appropriate voices for different characters, considering factors like age, gender, personality, and background
  • Vocal Warm-up – performing vocal exercises and warm-ups to prepare the voice for recording
  • Vocal Performance – delivering / recording lines with the right tone, emotion, and inflection to bring characters to life and convey their feelings and intentions
  • Collaboration – working closely with directors, producers, sound engineers, and other voice actors to achieve the desired performance and meet the project's requirements
  • Adaptability – adapting to different styles and genres, from comedic to dramatic, and adjusting performances based on feedback and direction
  • Voice Maintenance – taking care of their voice through proper vocal warm-ups, hydration, and avoiding strain to ensure consistent and high-quality performances
  • Administration – updating and maintaining professional profiles, portfolios, and demo reels; organizing and archiving past work and recordings for future reference

Types of Voice Actors
Now that we have a sense of the general scope of the voice actor’s work, let’s look at some different types of these actors, each specializing in specific areas of the voiceover industry:

  • Animation Voice Actors specialize in providing voices for animated characters in cartoons, feature films, and video games. They often create unique and expressive voices to bring a wide range of characters to life.
  • Commercial Voice Actors focus on recording voiceovers for television and radio commercials, promotional videos, and advertisements. They typically have a versatile and engaging voice suitable for selling products or services.
  • Narrative or Audiobook Narrators narrate audiobooks, documentaries, and educational materials. They need to have excellent storytelling skills or voices suitable for instructional and informational content, and the ability to maintain listener engagement over longer periods.
  • Video Game Voice Actors provide voices for characters in video games, including protagonists, antagonists, and supporting roles. They often need to perform various lines and reactions based on different gameplay scenarios.
  • ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) Voice Actors rerecord and synchronize voices for film and television productions to replace or enhance existing dialogue, especially in post-production.
  • Promotional or Trailer Voice Actors specialize in recording voiceovers for movie trailers, television show promos, and other promotional materials. They often have a dramatic and captivating voice to build anticipation and excitement.
  • Character or Impersonation Voice Actors mimic and impersonate well-known celebrities, historical figures, or fictional characters. They need to have a talent for capturing the unique voice and mannerisms of the person or character they are imitating.
  • Foreign Language Dubbing Voice Actors provide voiceovers for dubbing foreign-language films, television shows, and animations into other languages. They need to be fluent in multiple languages and capable of conveying the original performance's emotion and tone.
  • Live Announcers or Event Hosts work at live events and broadcasts, providing live commentary, introductions, and announcements. They need to have excellent public speaking skills and the ability to engage and entertain live audiences.

Voice actors may choose to specialize in one or more of these areas based on their interests, skills, and market demand, establishing themselves as experts and attracting specific kinds of clients and opportunities.

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What is the workplace of a Voice Actor like?

Voice actors can work for a variety of organizations and individuals across different industries. These are among their most common employers:

  • Animation Studios employ voice actors to provide voices for characters in animated films, television shows, and web series.
  • Video Game Developers and Publishers hire voice actors to voice characters in video games, including protagonists, antagonists, and supporting roles.
  • Advertising Agencies employ voice actors for recording voiceovers for television and radio commercials, online advertisements, and promotional videos.
  • Film and Television Production Companies hire voice actors for ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), narration, and character voice roles in films, television shows, and documentaries.
  • Audiobook Publishers employ voice actors to narrate and produce audiobooks for various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and educational content.
  • E-Learning and Corporate Training Companies hire voice actors to record voiceovers for e-learning courses, training videos, instructional materials, and corporate presentations.
  • Radio Stations employ voice actors for radio commercials, jingles, and promotional announcements.
  • Theater Companies hire voice actors for voice roles in live theatre productions, radio dramas, and audio plays.
  • Dubbing and Localization Companies employ voice actors for dubbing foreign-language films, television shows, and animations into other languages.
  • Gaming Companies and Platforms collaborate with voice actors to provide live commentary, streaming, and hosting services for gaming events, tournaments, and broadcasts.
  • Event Organizers and Production Companies hire voice actors for live announcing, event hosting, and emceeing at live events, conferences, conventions, and award ceremonies.

Voice actors may also work as freelancers and independently, offering their services to clients directly, often through their own home studios or online platforms.

The work environments for voice actors can vary widely. The following are some typical settings in which these actors find themselves:

  • Recording Studios – Many voice actors work in professional recording studios, either in-house at production companies, animation studios, or advertising agencies, or at commercial recording studios. These studios are equipped with high-quality recording equipment, soundproof booths, and professional sound engineers to ensure the best possible recording quality.
  • Home Studios – With advancements in technology and equipment, many voice actors have their own home recording studios. These studios are often equipped with professional microphones, recording software, soundproofing materials, and acoustic treatments to create a professional recording environment. This allows voice actors to independently record and edit their performances and digitally send the final recordings to clients and casting directors.
  • Remote Work – Voice actors can work remotely from anywhere in the world, providing voiceover services to clients and production companies globally. They may collaborate with clients and directors via video conferencing tools, email, and phone to discuss scripts, direction, and feedback.
  • On Stage and Broadcast Settings – These are common work spaces for voice actors working at live events.
  • Travel – Depending on the project, voice actors may need to travel to different locations for recording sessions, live events, promotional appearances, and voiceover work.
  • Online Platforms and Marketplaces – Many voice actors find work through online platforms, websites, and marketplaces that connect voice actors with clients and projects worldwide. These entities provide users with tools to manage their profiles, auditions, and projects online.

It’s important to note that the voice actor’s workday can be unpredictable, calling for flexibility and the capacity to juggle multiple projects and auditions simultaneously.

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Voice Actors are also known as:
Voiceover Artist Voice Artist