Learn more about voiceover!

information on a fantastic field for actors

Voiceovers ...specifically for Kids!

Working in your jammies, huge pay days and the company of celebrities sounds pretty sweet, right? For kids, doing the voice of their favorite cartoon characters is a dream come true. All of that is possible in the world of voiceover (VO for short).


WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Voiceover is the audio (sound) portion of any entertainment project that is recorded at a different time than the visual portion. In other words, it is a disembodied voice. Dialogue or sound effects may be spoken by the person who appears on camera elsewhere in the project, or it may be performed by a specialist voiceover actor. You hear voiceovers all the time: radio commercials, the guy who says, "Tonight on Glee...", or a talking starfish in a cartoon. Start listening and you will hear them everywhere.


Opportunities for kids exist in TV commercials, radio commercials, video games, animated features and TV series, foreign language dubbing, and in ADR. For adults, additional work areas include promos and trailers, audio books, and the category with the most work available, narration.


Voiceover can be done from any city! Talent are able to do VO work from literally anywhere!


SKILLS

Voiceover work is extremely competitive because children must be able to compete with adults for the same jobs (a 30 year woman can sound like a 10 year old boy, ala Bart Simpson). Here is a checklist that may help you decide if your child is right for a voiceover career.


The child must:

1. Read very well. It is extremely rare for kids younger than 6 to do voiceover work, but when they do, they must have the ability to memorize quickly.

2. Have improvisation skills

3. Be articulate and enunciate well. In other words, their language is very clear, with all consonants spoken. They are understandable and speech is crisp.

4. Have extreme patience. Voiceover work can be very boring...a sound studio without much to spur creativity, dozens of takes for each line, with just slight variances in the way they are done.

5. NOT be primarily interested in fame or glory. There isn't much of it as a voiceover actor--most jobs are done without applause or even your name in the credits. Even the star of an animated series is often not named because the studios want to preserve the "character" as an entity and not ruin it by pulling back the curtain.

6. Have the capability for physical stillness and the ability to sit for long periods of time. Kids with the wiggles are a problem for VO engineers because their clothing makes additional noises that can ruin a recording session.

7. Have the ability to create characters and break down a script very quickly. They need to be a good actor with some serious chops. It is common for directors to ask for 3 different interpretations in quick succession (referred to as an ABC read).

8. Have an awareness of timing and the ability to speed up and slow down a read. Radio commercials sometimes need to add or subtract even 2 seconds. The actor needs to be able to adjust their voice in small increments.

9. Have the ability to understand and interpret directions that are verbal only. Many times a director is in another state, giving direction through a headset on a patched-in feed.

In addition to that, there are some attributes that are not necessary, but can be extremely helpful:

* Have a very unique voice.

* Bilingual

* Ability to do multiple dialects very precisely (ie. Cockney vs. just British, Mexican Spanish vs. just Spanish).

* Singing ability.


Meet the COMPETITION!

Beyond celebrities, kids are at an additional disadvantage in the voiceover world: the sheer number of actors who can do the voice of a child makes the competition stiff. It is not at all unusual for an 8 year old boy to be competing with girls, and a slew of adult women for the same jobs. No one cares what you look like, they just care that you can do the job. Producers don't care where you are geographically--kids and adults from across the nation can audition for the same job. It's a wonderful opportunity, but it opens up the competition to thousands of people.


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