When does a story truly begin to be told?
Xavier Paul shares his perspective regarding how stories can be told and realities created using only the human voice when voice artists realize the author’s intent using clues supplied in the script and through characterization.
Learn more in today’s VOX Daily.
Acting in Voiceover?
By Xavier Paul
The top narrators understand the importance of storytelling. To make the script come alive is the goal. Before the narrator begins to read the first word there is no character, point of view or reality built into the words. Even the producer’s direction does not automatically infuse the script with a reality. It is only through the performer’s creativity thru specific character, spatial and emotional choices that any script will begin to take on the characteristics of a story.
From a recording artists point of view (any person who works with the recorded sound is a recording artist including voiceover artists) a “story” can really be of any length, any context. The actual circumstances regarding time, place, persons, things etc may vary or not be readily included in the script. Or the details may be not fully formed. The recording artist’s job is fundamentally to be a storyteller with the recorded sound; to create realities with the recorded sound. For the voiceover artist, it is to tell stories and create realities with the voice only. This may be done thru embellishing the already established story/character or adding character to a story or story to a character. Sometimes a line on the page with no context must be given an emotional context, story context. For this, an understanding of characterization is necessary.
Characterization in Voiceover Work
The art and task of building a “character” in voiceover work is similar to building characters in other media with the exception that there is very limited time to prepare and rehearse. The nature of voiceover is such that the immediate needs of the producers require the voice performer have an intimate understanding of their voice and a strong ability to implement technique. The ability to make choices quickly and dynamically is a competitive skill regardless of if its in the audition room or the recording studio. Of course practice on a regular basis allows the talent to make more effective choices when under pressure. With practice the talent learns to function effectively under pressure.
How To Bring “Reality Context” to Voiceover Scripts
Read the script fully: Many times voiceover talent only read their parts, the announcer lines and omit studying how the other parts of the script relate to and apply to the part that they will be reading.
Establish to mood: Since we’re human, we come into the world each day with a particular mood. It’s the voice actors job to determine what the mood, emotion and feeling that the script is looking to convey in the viewer or listener. Then, once established, to deliver that mood with their voice.
Make an active choice: If you’re in a different mood than what the script calls for then make an active choice to get into that mood and then deliver the lines. This will dramatically improve your performance.
Use deductive reasoning: Since there are so many ways to go about delivering a voiceover script, it’s important to pick the best emotional portrayal for the script. Practice with a good voiceover coach to improve your ability to do this.
Be sure to add your voice to the conversation!