Casting Multiple Voice Over Actors: How Many Actors Are Best for Elearning Character Voices?
The reasons why an instructional designer would require multiple voices for one elearning course are as varied as the reasons to use elearning at all.
Some of those reasons could be:
- To have a translation of the same course into different languages
- to incorporate many characters
- to have both male and female voices included
- to include children
- to make it more engaging and fun overall
Voices.com account managers have the pleasure of working with the largest elearning companies from around the world. With that hands-on experience, they weighed in on all things ‘multi-voice elearning’ as an instructional strategy. The results of which have been crunched together to help instructional designers outline what they hope to achieve by incorporating multiple voices, and decide whether to use fewer voices for many characters or many voices for 1 character each.
To Use Multiple Voice Actors or Not…
The decision to use multiple voice actors as an instructional strategy can depend on your needs, budget, turnaround time, etc. However, for those who do develop a multi-character elearning course, they may find that their content is more engaging and effective.
The human brain responds to change in sound. That includes different voices. When a change in sound is detected, the human brain responds by focusing attention on the change. Therefore, when you use different voices throughout your elearning course, you can hold a learner’s attention much longer as the fluctuations in sound help to keep them engaged. And since it’s difficult to hold learner attention for more than 2 minutes at a time, using anything possible to keep the audience engaged in the module is beneficial.
To Use Multiple Voice Actors or Not, When Resources are Tight
We’ve all been tasked with the impossible mission of creating something a-m-a-z-i-n-g with a fraction of the budget required to pull it off and have it delivered yesterday. It’s simply the reality that instructional designers and content creators are used to! One strategy that designers use in order to work smarter with limited resources, is to have a voice actor voice multiple characters.
There are so many talented voice actors who can easily play different characters by pulling in different vocal traits.
If you choose to go this route, it can be useful to space out the voice over appearance of different characters (for instance, having them each present a section of a module, instead of dialoguing with one another. This makes it less noticeable to the learner that there are fewer voice actors than characters.
Or, if a project’s resource allocation will only allow for 2 voice actors to play 6 characters total (3 roles per voice actor). Try to split the characters into major and minor roles. Then, give each voice actor 1 major role. Assign the remaining roles based on the script dialogue.
Reminder: To keep things engaging and dynamic for the learner, try not to assign characters that share dialogue with one another to the same voice talent. That way, the voice actor doesn’t have to be both people in the same conversation. Here’s an example:
Jim and Bob are the 2 voice actors hired for the 6-character project. They will have 3 roles each, as follows:
|Bully (Main Character)|
|Bob||Boy in School (Main Character)|
In the script, the dad and brother characters will never have a conversation together. Neither will the teacher or school principal. This way, Jim nor Bob will have to hold a conversation of 2 characters by themselves. They will always be conversing with one another. The point of this, again, is to ensure that the learner doesn’t notice that there are fewer voice actors than characters.
To Use Multiple Voice Actors or Not, When Turnaround Time is the Priority
If you’re under a time crunch, you have options! You can use the strategy above (one voice actor = multiple roles) OR cast one role per voice actor. Many people are surprised to learn that the latter is actually the most time efficient.
Here’s why: Using the scenario from above, if 6 actors were hired to play 1 role each, they could all record their separate parts simultaneously. That reduces the turnaround time compared to 2 voice actors who are responsible for 3 roles each.
Often there are audio edits and retakes that will need to be done. In the situation of many voice actors supplying 1 character voice each, those retakes also become much quicker – and simpler to project manage.
To Use Multiple Voice Actors or Not, When Project Management Time Constraints are Priority
There are a lot of moving parts to planning an executing a cohesive elearning course. The lesson planning, storyboarding, script writing, graphic production, video production, voice over, quality testing, etc. can take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year to finish.
Depending on the instructional design firm, there could be multiple LMS’ in development at the same time. In those situations, there are limited project management resources so the more streamlined all of the moving parts are, the better it is for everyone involved!
If you’re in the boat of ‘so much to do but so little time’, then casting fewer voice actors for multiple characters might actually appeal more to you. Simply put, there are less people to communicate with when working with less actors. So as long as you’re able to stay organized with which voice actor is responsible for what character, and the deadlines in which you need their recordings, it’ll be a success.
Not sure if you’re able to afford the project management time commitment of the next elearning project in the pipeline? Voices.com Account Managers are an awesome resource for project management. They alleviate the stress of finding the right voice actors for your elearning character roles, and also coordinate all of the efforts around the voice over delivery. Essentially, they become an extension of your team.
The prospect of managing so many moving parts of a complex project could potentially deter instructional designers from choosing to go the route of choosing many voice actors, regardless of if they’re responsible for multiple characters each, or just one character each. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Since an elearning platform will perform better with the inclusion of many voices, we urge producers to explore their options and get in touch with a Voices.com account manager to learn more about how they might be able to assist in the project management aspect of all things voice over. Sign up today to get in touch with your account manager.