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About Voiceovers (continued from About page)

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My name is David Landon, and I’m a voice actor

aka, a “voice talent”, “voice artist”, or “voice recording specialist”.

"Back in the day", I would have been known as an "announcer" or a "narrator", but in today's world the demand is for a more "natural" sound. Voiceover job descriptions often specifically state that they don't want the read to sound "like an announcer"!

One thing I am NOT, however, is a "voiceover"!

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I don't know who started this misnomer. I began seeing it in the industry, even among voice actors themselves, a couple of years ago. People talk about the "voiceover" industry and refer to voice actors as "voiceovers". A "voiceover" is a type of voice recording.

Yes, voice actors, voice artists, etc. record voiceovers, along with various other kinds of spoken word recordings, but we are not voiceovers! (Like a videographer is not a video, a writer is not a script, a plumber is not a toilet… You get the idea!)

It's true that “voiceover” comprises a substantial percentage of all of the voice recording jobs in the industry (I haven’t seen any stats), but there are a lot of other types of voice recording jobs out there. The various categories of voice recordings which are not voiceovers include:

  • audio books

  • telephony

  • radio commercials

  • transportation (you know, those voices you hear on buses, light rail, subways, self-guided tours, at train stations, airports, in super-markets, with GPS systems, etc.)

The list of non-voiceover voice recording categories goes on and on and includes some fairly obscure niches. Although there can be exceptions, generally speaking, these kinds of voice recordings are not voice-overs.

Nevertheless, even though “voiceover” is just one sub-category within the industry, for some reason the term has now come to refer - incorrectly - to the entire industry of voice work, including being mis-applied to voice actors themselves!!

“Voice-over" is a term that came about in the television and film industries to refer to the voice of an unseen announcer or narrator which was heard “over” the visual image. The two elements that defined a voice as a “voice-over” were:

1.    There was something visual (images, text, etc.) over which the voice was heard.

2.    The announcer, narrator, or an actor's voice was heard but the speaker not seen (or they were not seen to be speaking, such as when their inner thoughts were "made audible".

Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of “voice-over”:

Definition of voice-over. 1 a : the voice of an unseen narrator speaking (as in a motion picture or television commercial) b : the voice of a visible character (as in a motion picture) expressing unspoken thoughts. 2 : a recording of a voice-over. First Known Use: circa 1947.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we no longer place much importance on correct word usage. This is especially ironic in an industry whose entire raison d’etre is to using words to communicate.

So, what makes someone a "voice actor" or "voice artist"? Is it just a "good voice"? Far from it!

 

 
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