This is the category that most people think of when they hear the term “Voice Actor”. Animation consists of images either hand drawn or digitally animated with computers to tell stories. Aside from cartoons from networks like Nickelodeon and Disney/Pixar, animation is comprised of movies, television, and web shows. YouTube has created a whole world of independent animation which is wonderful resource for people looking to build up their voice acting chops.
Commercial voice over is often the bread and butter for how many voice actors make their living. The commercial category almost always involves promoting a product or service in the form of an advertisement that will be presented on television, radio, web or social. Typically, in the :15 :30 and :60 second formats, commercial voice over can pay larger wages due to union minimums, the multiple territories the spot might be distributed in and the buyouts / renewals of the ad. Many voice actors record some of the most famous spots right out of their home recording studios. Commercials usually look to highlight the brand name in the spot and likely “sell” what is being spoken about.
Voice over narration is when a voice narrates over images or motion pictures to help tell the story either from a character’s perspective or a third party. Think the documentary Planet Earth narrated by the incomparable David Attenborough. You will find narration in most productions on the networks The History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic
4. Audio Books
Audio books have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in recent years despite being around for almost a century. Thanks to companies like Apple Books and Audible with their ACX division for self-publishing authors, voice actors now have a tremendous amount of opportunities to thrive. While some authors will narrate their own books and numerous celebrities lend their voice to popular titles, the bulk of the audio books being produced are from professional voice actors playing multiple roles by themselves, sometimes right out of their own home studio.
5. Video Games/Interactive
The video game industry is one of the largest industries in the world. Even bigger than Hollywood. With so much attention and popularity, video games have created enormous opportunities for voice actors to make a living. Everything from games on the home consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo to Mobile and PC games, the opportunities are endless. Video games often require large amounts of efforts, such as getting hit, falling, and even shouting which can be demanding on the voice if not properly trained. Now with video games using motion capture and motion performance, sometimes actors will not only be the voice of the character, but the model for the body movements as well.
E-learning is a category of voice over that many professionals thrive in. E-learning for voice actors often involves working with instructional and educational content that helps students of all ages. The educational content voice actors record for E-learning can be used in phone apps, websites, or even educational institutions. The work involved can be anything from providing word pronunciations, historical explorations, or even narration for learning games.
Corporate voice over is a genre of VO that almost all large companies utilize in some way. Often to help train new employees or offer in depth tutorials/explanations for specific jobs; Corporate VO aids employees in being knowledgeable about their specific duties. Corporations will also use VO for presentations or announcements for the company either internally, at trade shows, conferences, or on their websites.
IN A WORLD. This line is known by all who have a career doing trailer work. Trailers are teasers for various pieces of content giving the viewer a glimpse of what the full-length program is about. Once dominated by the ‘deep male voice’, trailers are now starting to finally represent the much-needed diversity in the category. Trailers can touch on any genre, be it comedy, drama, or documentary.
Promos are the advertisements specifically promoting shows or segments in between them. If you’ve ever heard “Coming up next” or “Next Friday at 8” that is exactly what a promo is. Various networks use promos with voices that match the demographic of the program it promotes. In the past, promos were mostly a medium for television, but more recently promos now occupy networks YouTube channels, creating significantly more work for voice actors.
Often, we think of the stereotypical ‘Radio Announcer Voice’ when it comes to announcing work. But, there’s countless announcer voices all around us that you may not even think of. From the New York Subway PA Systems announcing, “Stand clear of the closing doors”, announcements at convention centres, to the mythical voice telling you to turn off your phone at the Theatre.
About the author
Paul is an Actor and Filmmaker from New York City. In the world of V.O., he has voiced countless commercials and promos for networks like Nickelodeon and various animated shows and video games. On television, he has appeared on shows such as God Friended Me, Blue Bloods, and Limitless. As a producer, he recently released the documentary Madonna and the Breakfast Club on Hulu. His passion for voice acting led him to Los Angeles where he now resides with many projects in production. www.PaulCastroJr.com @PaulCastroJr