In actual fact, a voice artist is like an actor, though their job requires them to create a story just by using their voice. Easy you say, but at least an actor that you can see on the screen can convey their emotions through their eyes, body language, movement, and even their props, they also have the art of words… but imagine an actor who can only rely on their voice to create a feeling for an advertisement or movie scene.
Sure more often than not, an artist’s voice is put over an image on the screen – which can help enhance the feelings that scene is trying to create for the audience, but the actor or actress whose voice is being used in the audio production, doesn’t usually have this scene playing in front of them when they are doing the read, and are therefore having to improvise by playing out the scene in their head and bringing the character or scene alive through the emotion in their voice.
If you’re familiar with radio spots, you would know you need to be able to take direction from the director or audio production manager who will direct them into setting the right tone for which the client is hoping to achieve. This process can take hours upon hours to get the perfect read for the required narrative, which can be quite frustrating for a voice artist as they can spend hours upon hours in a recording studio repeating the same line until the director is happy with the final outcome. For more information radio spots has a really good post on this.
The production manager will also guide the voiceover artist through the timing of the read – as this is a very key component in ensuring the right words are emphasized, it is also important especially for the likes of radio or television commercials which are usually governed by strict time limits.
Though this career may seem like an easy alternative to acting in front of a camera or audience, it does take quite a dedicated person to properly pull it off. Just with acting, there is fierce competition out there, and whilst there is an abundance of work – usually, there are a select few who have distinctive voices, and you will find that audio production agencies and recording studios will often give the work to those they know and trust in the industry. However, if you are serious about making a long and lucrative career out of voice-over work, then you would be best to contact your local casting agents or radio stations and find out about attending a short course to strengthen your natural voice and improve your ability to interpret feeling.
Look in your local newspapers or online and see if there are any auditions in your area, and finally listen to the voice artists on radio, TV or in the movies. Listen to their tone. Listen to how they read a sentence, where they pause, which words they emphasize and then start practicing reading aloud and pretending you are reading to an audience. Remember, it is quite a competitive industry and you need to make sure that your voice stands out from the hundreds of others that are also trying to break into the industry.