Voice Acting

What Are Vocal Effects?

Ever had to scream, sneeze or laugh for a voice over job?

When you get a script, sometimes there are extra vocal bits that you need to include aside from the copy presented, particularly in entertainment.
Learn more about the kind of work that’s out there for voice over professionals in today’s VOX Daily.

In The Background

Productions in the entertainment industry often have background noises that need to be enhanced by the human voice. Commonly, voice actors are needed to beef up exertion noises such as grunts, groans, screams and background noises such as crowds, traffic, animal noises and even digital sounds.
Learning how to effectively use your voice to make a variety of exertion sounds is a great way to enhance your voice over resume and can provide you with some bread and butter work as this is a regularly requested type of voice over in the entertainment industry.

What Industries Use Vocal Effects?

The movie, television, and gaming industry all use voice effects in their productions to help round out and enrich the audio quality of their productions. If you choose to market yourself as someone who specializes in this type of voice work it can also help you get a foot in the door of the entertainment industry and will help you generate some contacts with casting agents, directors and producers.

Why Use The Human Voice?

When productions use digital sounds to replicate the exertions from actors it just doesn’t sound right. The audience will pick up on something that’s been digitally enhanced much in the same way you can always pick up laugh tracks on your favourite television series. It sounds unnatural and is unpleasing to the ear. The human voice is so complex and has so many dimensions that it is unparalleled for creating the variety of noises.

How Do You Learn This Technique?

The best way to learn how to do voice over effects is simply to practice. As with anything, the more you practice the better you’ll become. Set some time aside every day to imitate the sounds you hear all around you – warning: you may annoy the neighbours! Try to practice when you’re alone in your car, for example, or entertaining a child who is much more likely to appreciate your funny noises than your spouse, neighbours or friends.

It is extremely beneficial to take some training from a voice over coach who can help you cultivate this skill and provide advice on how to market it in the industry. Give them a call and see if they can provide training in this area of voice over. If you already have experience creating voice effects you should elaborate on this in your experience section at Voices so that our search engine will direct clients with this need to your profile.

Do you have tips for doing great vocal effects?

Be sure to comment below!


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  • Avatar for David W. Cook
    David W. Cook
    April 21, 2011, 9:49 am

    Thanks! A great reminder hat there are more sound effects than just the AFLAC duck! 🙂
    Having a good run of late with many kids VO projects for a leading publisher plus on camera for Medical videos, Boston Red Sox TV spots and more.
    Happy Easter!

  • Avatar for Larry O
    Larry O'Brien Robertson
    May 12, 2011, 10:40 am

    I did the play-by-play voice for Madden NFL (EA Sports) for the years 2006-08. There was a very large amount of high-intensity vocalizing (screaming!). We recorded each morning for one hour because that’s all my throat could handle. I found that it was actually very physically demanding and I’d be pretty worn out at day’s end.

  • Avatar for Diane Merritt
    Diane Merritt
    May 12, 2011, 12:20 pm

    One time I was recording a narration and sneezed in the middle of it – so I saved it as a separate file in case I ever needed to have a “real sneeze” effect on a future recording. Need to do that with a cough and a yawn as well. 😉

  • Avatar for Nick Montague
    Nick Montague
    May 12, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I did a video game and all my character did was grunt moan and groan had to convey all the emotions with no words was very hard but when I listened to the end product I loved it.

  • Avatar for Tim Harrison
    Tim Harrison
    May 12, 2011, 12:21 pm

    I voiced Cyclops in 2 of the X-Men fighting games. There was some dialogue, but the lion’s share was grunts and exertion sounds for punching, kicking, and taking hits.

  • Avatar for Dana Detrick-Clark
    Dana Detrick-Clark
    May 12, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I’ve had some with a few videogames and audio dramas. The latter involved fighting an invisible monster, so I was able to keep it pretty realistic! I definitely save the “action” voicing for the last part of the day, so wearing myself out won’t harm anything else.

  • Avatar for Jerry Scullion
    Jerry Scullion
    May 12, 2011, 10:48 am

    I did a superhero/villain VO character for Pendant Audio, where my “character” was killed in a most unpleasant way, and had to do several horrible screams. Quite a few takes til I got what I liked. I am always impressed by Harrison Ford’s take on screams in his action films. They are so unusual, but in the way that it makes you feel his pain. Ex.-Temple of Doom, where he is being voodoo doll’d, he makes these bloodcurdling unnatural screams. Not just “aah”! Screams are hard work!

  • Avatar for Darragh
    June 7, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Quite recently we have had a couple of voice over artists coming back to us with hilarious stories about how they’ve had to perform some the strangest of noises known to man, both human and animal! Many people don’t realise that this can be quite an important aspect of voice over acting given that, on occasion, you may be required to perform more than just your typical hard sell quick fire promo and create sounds affects which may seem out of the norm. Practising and perfecting a variety of sound effects whether they be coughs, sneezes, hiccups or dog barks are all part of being a professional voice over artist. After all acting is your trade!