Voiceovers by Gregory Houser
A man, a martini, and a lot of microphones.: It's not about the voice!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's not about the voice!

I don't know how many times I've heard the ole, "people say I have a really nice voice, maybe I should get into voice over..." I don't think that there's a single voice actor out there doesn't have a few stories to tell in this regard.

It's part of the game.

Frankly, I'm always more than happy to help most folks out as best I can. For the most part, I think most voice actors would say the same (and some... I'm looking at you, anime VAs, can be veritable saints at times). Sure, the VO community is very tight knit, but we're always willing to welcome folks into the fold. It's one of the many great things about this art, and one of the many reasons it's become such a large part of my life.

That said, I remember (and often echo) the words of one of my voice coaches. During our first session together she browbeat me with the words "it's not about the voice". I needed to hear that a LOT of times before I truly figured out what she meant. Once I did, it became part of my response used whenever anyone asked me about voiceover, or voice acting in general.

Turns out that I'm not quite alone in that regard. In a recent blog post I found on Blogging Innovation, Mike Brown talks of a similar approach where "it's not about the voiceover". In his situation, Brown talks about a Marketing Lead who directed that there would be no voice over in a particular piece. Members of his creative team pleaded that a voice over was essential to what they were doing (something I'm sure every voice actor loves to hear), but the Lead was adamant.

What they discovered was that they'd been relying on voice actors to fix their mistakes with the copy. What the Marketing Lead had done was to force a stronger, better performance out of the staff by not having them rely on someone else (i.e., someone outside of their general control) to fix their problems for them.

It's somewhat brilliant if you think about it.

Now for voice actors, we need to take a similar approach. All too often, we begin to rely on something external to help us elevate our work. In a lot of cases, we do the same thing that these marketing people were doing... we're counting on the "voice" to get us through the copy. Well, it's not about the voice. Never has been. Never should be. It's about our creativity, our ability to make a choice related to the copy ,our commitment to the choices we made, etc. In short, it's about all the creative aspects of what we do.

Too often, in my opinion, I hear people talk about "the voice". Brown's posting, and his example, should serve as a good reminder to all of us that it's not about the voice, but what we bring to it, what we bring to the copy, and how we do so, that makes a voiceover worth listening to.

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