“Voiceover”, “voice-over”, “voice over”. Firstly I thought of writing the article in Spanish, but the translation of the concept generated another shortcoming I want to avoid for now. But let’s stay confined to the English language and get started by the designation of the concept. I am quite unsure of how to write the term, so how would I describe it? Oxford Dictionary offers the following definition: “noun information or comments in a film/movie, television programme, etc. that are given by a person who is not seen on the screen.” Maybe this was true at the publishing time of the book, in the year 2000, but a lot of developments have occurred since then. Nowadays we could expand that definition to the recorded voice you can hear when reaching an answering machine, in computer programmes, videogames, etc.
Voiceover is in a way similar to translation, you do not realize its presence unless something goes wrong. Besides, sometimes several voiceover artists are needed for the same project, with different accents, different languages, different voice features... Very similar to a multilingual translation project, right? We could say that translation and voiceover could be closely related in specific projects and that it could be ideal for a translator to be able to provide this service in conjunction with translation and/or transcription, for example.
Once we know what voiceover is and what we need to provide the service, we need customers who demand that service. As I mentioned before, there are different kinds of voiceover, so there is a variety of markets available. Depending on the age, gender, tone, etc. we can target the dubbing and narration market, in which the voice should copy the role of a narrator or an actor in films or drama, or be neutral in order to produce interesting interviews or documentaries. Voiceover involving different characters, accents, age-groups, etc. are complicated, but extremely in demand in the expanding market of videogames, cartoons and animation, for example.
Another important field where voiceover is essential is business. Marketing material is getting more and more dynamic every day. Visual effects and sounds make the messages get across faster than written words standing alone, so a marketing or commercial-oriented voice that can be played in any device, through the web, or added to video tutorials and presentations would be ideal in this market. In addition, IVR and on-hold messages are also important to improve the customer experience and loyalty, as well as creating and maintaining a good reputation of the brand.
And at last, but not least, e-learning. It has become one of the most popular methods in education and training, as gives the opportunity to virtually assist in classes/lessons from all over the world. For this kind of recordings, the voice needs to transmit authority and knowledge, but also be warm enough to get to the student as much as possible. Another feature of e-learning courses is that they require a high-volume recording and mostly within a short deadline and several languages, so stress is an additional challenge for these brave voice actors.