4 Tips for Casting TV Voiceovers

Are you new to casting voice-overs?

No matter what type of role you’re casting, the success of the project relies heavily on casting the right voice actor for the job.

The wrong voice can make an otherwise excellent production go south and, on the flipside, the right voice can make a mediocre script sound outstanding.

So, how do you know what to look for?

Whether you're casting the voice-over for your own business or you're a part of the creative team (AKA casting director and/or copywriter) at an advertising agency, if this is your first voice-over project - or even if it's you 5th or 100th - here a few items to take into consideration when casting the voice-over role in your TV production.

Looks Don't  Matter, Sound Does

Aside from the courtesy of employing general personal grooming, how a voice actor looks should play no bearing what-so-ever on who you cast in the role. The audience will never see how the voice actor looks, but will care about how they sound.

When listening to the audition close your eyes, put everything else out of your mind, and listen carefully to the quality of their voice, their interpretation, and performance. Doing so will help you visualize their voice in the role. Also, note actors who give you several different interpretations. This is a good sign that they are flexible, likely take direction well, and improvise when needed.

Branding and Vocal Personalities

Jot down a few notes about the brands’ look, sound, and target audience. Keep it with you while listening to the auditions. How does the talents deliver and unique vocal style compare?

Much of a company's branding relies on what their target market is all about, such as their age range, gender, interests, hobbies, etc.

Specifically Consider Matching:

  • Perceived age and attitude
  • Language and/or accents

Maybe they’re not right for this role but you love their delivery and vocal qualities. Make a note about what you liked about them and keep them on your radar for another casting call.

A professional voice talent will research the brand as much as they’re able to prior to auditioning to get a good idea of the brands perceived personality and will try to match their unique read to that personality.

Pay Attention to Audio Quality

Another note on sound, if your audition is being held online, you will also want to observe the actual audio quality. You and your favorite talent may not be audio engineers, although you'd be surprised how many are pros at editing and mastering as well, but there are certain things that are fairly easy to listen for and avoid.

  • Does the recording sound distant or distorted?
  • Is here a lot of popping sounds (b and p in particular) or mouth noises?
  • Does the recording sound too fast or too slow?
  • Is there a muffled sound or clicking in the recording?

These could all be signs that they don't know how to adjust their equipment to get a clean, clear, rich sounding audio recording. However, if you like their performance but are concerned about the recording quality, consider asking the voice actor about it.

There could very well be a reason for it or they may not be aware of a new technical problem with their equipment which could otherwise be easily corrected.

Be Kind, It's Tough On the Other Side of the Mic

If you're going into your first, second, or third round of auditions be kind to the voice actors. It's a tough, competitive business and there are a lot of other talent vying for jobs. You'll help the talent feel freer and more creative if you don't stifle their performance by being tense or negative.

Rather than making statements such as "That take was way off. Do it with more..."  say something encouraging like, "Good. Now, let's try it with more..."

Think of the talent as being part of your creative team and treat them with the respect and courtesy you'd expect in return. You’ll develop a better relationship with your chosen talent and get a better performance on the outset.