Voice Acting Tips To Create a Believable Voice for Any Environment
Getting the volume and energy right in voiceover is key to creating a great read.
That’s why I give tips for voice acting about what you need to do to achieve the right result.
Most of the time voice actors deliver information in a formalised structure.
That is, it bears little resemblance to the way we normally use language.
But sometimes we’ll be given a script that requires us to sound like a real person – in a real environment.
Often, we’ll call these ‘character’ reads.
Not because they require us to find a character or funny voice, but because they require us to jump into someone else’s shoes, in a particular environment.
Here’s the kind of script I mean.
Read it first and then we’ll talk about creating the right read for the environment the scene is set in.
“G’Day. I’m Luke. Self employed Electrician
Whenever I talk to my mates about going to their bank, they tell me they can never get an appointment.
I tell ‘em to go to ANZ.
They’re always there for me”
Yes, for those of you voice actors who aren’t in Australia, this ad uses Australian slang, like ‘G’day’ and ‘mates’.
Using language that well and truly places you where you are geographically and demographically is key to making an ad like this sound legitimate.
When you get a script like this, it’ll often have information about where it’s set.
It may say, ‘construction site sound effects (SFX)’ or could even be more specific, such as ‘Luke is loading tools into his work van on a building site’.
Information like this will always inform what Luke is doing while he’s voicing the ad.
So what’s the first thing to look for in the ‘ad’?
Find the key words, phrases or lines that are at the centre of the purpose for the ad.
In this case, it’s the phrase, ‘go to ANZ’ with the added edge of the line, ‘they’re always there for me’.
Next, you need to create a persona for Luke, so that we know right off who’s talking to us.
This is when you need to start thinking about visualising yourself in the environment.
If there’s the background noise of the building site, then you’ll need to be using a slightly more projected style of voice – it won’t work talking at an intimate level.
You’ll need to work with the producer and/or engineer on how to achieve this – it will always be about finding the perfect your position in front of the mic coupled with your projection level.
Yelling is always irritating – so you need to find a level that works with where you are, and also works with how you’re going to be heard.
Sometimes the studio will have created the SFX track before you arrive.
Working with this can be really useful – but if you’re not, you’ll need to imagine it.
You’ll also need to imagine that you’re really in that environment.
Visualise strongly your character standing in that place and saying those lines.
Don’t forget, they’re supposed to sound as though they’re just coming straight out of Luke’s mouth – without him really thinking about what he’s saying.
When you are in an environment and there are things going on around you, it can really help to create a believable scenario if there’s physical movement.
If you’re working off the brief, ‘Luke is loading his work van with tools on a building site’, then you’ll have to find a way to physicalise this.
One of my tips for voice acting that really works for this kind of read?
Imagine you’re doing different things – every time you read the script.
In fact, scripts like this really benefit from you being as spontaneous as you can during every take. The engineer and producer will choose the best takes from parts of each of your reads to edit together, which is shy they love it when you offer lots of options for them to choose from.
You can also add what I call ‘character embellishment’.
You often can’t add words to a script, but character reads like this always work better if you add something like a:
- sigh or
- some other vocalisation that’s not a word.
It creates a more believable character.
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.