Voice Over Terminology – What Does It All Mean?
Welcome to the exciting world of voiceover, where talented voice artists use their voices to bring stories, characters, and advertisements to life.
The voiceover industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, with a unique lexicon of terminology and acronyms that can be daunting for newcomers and experienced professionals alike. Whether you are a voice actor looking to expand your skills and knowledge or a producer seeking to understand the jargon of the business, this voiceover dictionary is your go-to resource.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the voiceover industry and provide detailed explanations of key terms, acronyms, and phrases that are commonly used in the field. From microphone types to studio setups, from character archetypes to commercial copy, we have covered it all. You will find definitions of technical terms such as “room tone,” “breath control,” and “EQ,” as well as industry-specific phrases like “BSF”, “audition sides,” “ADR,” and “pay-to-play.”
The voiceover industry is a highly competitive field, and understanding the language and culture of the business is essential for success. This dictionary is the result of extensive research and collaboration with experts in the field, and we are confident that it will become an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the voiceover world. So whether you are a seasoned professional or a curious newcomer, we invite you to dive into the fascinating world of voiceover with this voiceover dictionary at your side.
ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)
The process of re-recording dialogue in post-production, typically in a studio. This additional is usually used to replace or enhance poorly recorded dialogue from the original filming., which may be unusable due to background noise or mistakes.
A representative who negotiates on behalf of the actor for projects, auditions, and contracts.
A voiceover artist who reads a script, usually for a commercial or promotional announcement, and who specializes in delivering formal and informative content.
The background sound or noise in a recording, such as traffic or crowd chatter.
A type of voiceover where the voice actor provides the voice for animated characters. Voiceover work for animated films, television shows, and video games.
A voiceover artist who reads a script, usually for a commercial or promotional announcement, and who specializes in delivering formal and informative content.
An opportunity for a voice actor to showcase their skills to a casting director or producer for potential work, demonstrating their abilities for a role.
The process of manipulating and refining recorded sound to create a polished final product. Typically, as a voice actor, very little editing is required, as it may need to be “matched” sound-wise with another actor who may have also recorded remotely. Usually, a voice talent just needs to remove mistakes, chatter, or breaths and to then send that off to the sound-engineer.
Payment given to the voice actor for work done on a project after it has been released or sold.
A type of voiceover used in music production to provide support or harmonies to the lead vocalist.
A sound-treated and sound-proofed space where voice actors record their lines without outside noise or echo.
A vocal quality characterized by a lot of air flow, often used to convey sensuality or intimacy.
The ability to control the rate and depth of one’s breaths while performing, in order to create specific vocal effects or maintain control over one’s voice – essential for delivering clear and consistent lines.
BSF (Basic Studio Fee)
A microphone mounted on a long pole, used to capture audio from a distance.
The person responsible for selecting actors for roles in a production. DO NOT CALL THEM CASTING AGENTS, they can be a bit sensitive 🙂
A type of voiceover used in advertising, usually for on-line, radio or television commercials, or for advertising or marketing campaigns.
A technique used in audio editing to reduce the dynamic range between the loudest and softest parts of a recording.
The written script that an actor reads from during a voiceover session.
The process of selecting voice actors for a project based on their skills and experience.
A signal, such as a line of dialogue or a physical action, that indicates when an actor should perform a specific action or deliver a specific line
A voice used by an actor to portray a fictional character in a production, typically involving specific inflections, tone, and other vocal characteristics, often with a unique accent or vocal quality.
A recording of a steady metronome or other timing device used to help voice actors pace their lines.
A read of a script that has not been previously seen or rehearsed.
A demo reel that has been created specifically for a client or project.
The manner in which an actor delivers their lines, including pacing, emphasis, and tone.
A collection of voiceover samples showcasing the voice actor’s range and abilities. These usually include different reels, professionally produced, for Commercial, Corporate, Gaming and Radio demos, of no more than about 1.5 minutes in length. It’s also good practice to have at hand examples of works in any accents, dialects, languages or character voices, which you can quickly send to agents as required.
The person responsible for guiding the actors and voice actors during a production.
The process of providing guidance and feedback to voice actors during a recording session.
The clarity and accuracy of a voice actor’s speech.
The spoken lines of a script.
A specific form of language that is unique to a particular region, culture, or social group.
A professional who helps actors learn how to speak in a specific dialect or accent.
The target audience for a particular product or service, used to determine the appropriate style and tone for a voiceover.
Discord is a popular communication platform that allows users to chat, voice chat, and share content with each other in real-time. It is primarily used by gamers, but it can also be used for social and professional communication.
The process of replacing the original dialogue in a production with a new recording, typically in a different language.
A type of microphone that uses a magnetic coil to convert sound waves into an electrical signal.
A device used to prompt the voice actor with their lines during a recording session.
The process of selecting and arranging the best takes of a recording session, often using software like Pro Tools or Audacity.
Spontaneous or improvised speech.
The UK Actor’s Union, providing legal support, as well as offering advice and setting rates. Unlike SAG-AFTRA in the US, it does not take a cut of the actor’s income.
Short for equalization, a technique used in audio editing to adjust the frequency balance of a recording.
The feeling or mood that an actor conveys through their performance, typically through the use of facial expressions (e.g. smiling can produce a happy-sounding voice-over delivery), body language, and vocal inflections.
Noises such as grunts, yelling etc, generally used in video games. There are agreements in place to limit the amount of time a voiceover should be allowed to work on efforts in one sitting, to avoid damage to the voice.
A gradual increase or decrease in volume used to transition between different parts of a recording.
An audio effect used to alter the sound of a voice or remove unwanted background noise.
Abbreviation for a female voiceover artist.
A one-time payment for the use of a voice actor’s recording with no future royalties or residuals. DO NOT AGREE TO THIS.
Sound effects that are recorded and added to a production in post-production to enhance the audio experience.
A sound effects specialist who creates and records sounds to be added to a production.
A type of voiceover used in video games.
A job or project that a voice actor has been hired to work on.
A type of vocalization characterized by a deep, rough, and throaty sound.
Effort noises used in voiceover, such as gasping, panting, or exertion noises.
Voiceover work that is done without a union contract or outside of an agency.
A device worn by a voice actor to hear their performance and communicate with the director.
A photograph of an actor’s head and shoulders, typically used as a marketing tool to promote their talent. Yes – even voiceovers need professional headshot – especially if you want to be featured on a site such as Spotlight.
A catchy phrase used to capture the listener’s attention.
A type of voiceover used in radio station branding.
An actor’s imitation of a famous person’s voice or vocal mannerisms.
The rise and fall of a voice actor’s pitch and tone, used to convey emotion and emphasis.
In Perpetuity (see Full buyout)
Short for “improvisation,” this is a form of performance where actors create scenes and dialogue on the spot, without a script.
Short for Integrated Services Digital Network, a technology used to transmit high-quality audio over long distances.
Technical language used in a specific industry.
A catchy tune or song used in advertising, often with a memorable tagline.
Words used to optimize a voice actor’s online presence for search engines.
A measure of audio frequency.
A fee paid to a voice actor if a project is cancelled after they have begun working on it.
The process of matching dialogue to pre-existing footage, such as in an animated film.
Looping (See ADR)
The process of recording new dialogue or sound effects to be added to a production during post
The final recording used for a project.
The way a voice actor positions and uses their microphone to capture their voice effectively so as to achieve optimal sound quality.
The process of combining multiple audio tracks into a final product, adjusting their levels, and adding effects as necessary.
MVO (Male Voice Over)
Abbreviation for a male voiceover artist.
A type of voiceover used to tell a story, often used in documentaries or audiobooks.
Voiceover work done outside of a union contract.
Dialogue spoken by a character who is not shown on screen.
The volume or quality of sound that is not picked up by the microphone.
The speed at which a voice actor speaks, often adjusted for emphasis and clarity.
A platform where voice actors pay a fee to have access to audition for voiceover projects posted by clients. These websites often take a percentage of the actor’s earnings in exchange for hosting the audition and providing a means for communication and file exchange between the actor and the client. The use of pay-to-play websites is controversial in the voiceover industry due to concerns about fair compensation and ethical practices.
A person responsible for overseeing the production of a voiceover project, often involved in the casting, directing, and editing processes.
The process of preparing the recording equipment and voice actor before a recording session.
The process of editing, mixing, and mastering audio recordings to create a polished final product.
A small screen used to reduce the popping sound caused by plosive consonants like “P” and “B” during recording, placed between the mic and the voice talent’s mouth.
The process of reviewing recorded footage or audio.
The level and tone of an actor’s voice, often used to convey emotion or emphasize certain words.
A single line or phrase that needs to be re-recorded (due to an error or change in direction), often done separately from the rest of the recording.
Voiceover work used to promote a television show or event, often with a sense of urgency and excitement.
The process of recording a small section of audio in the middle of a larger recording, often used to correct a mistake or re-record a specific line. Also known as punch and roll. A really important technique to learn with your voiceover recording software, particularly for long-reads as it makes editing much faster.
The correct way to say a word, often determined by regional or cultural differences.
The process of ensuring that the final product meets the required standards of quality. Also known as Q&A.
The way in which a voice actor performs a script or dialogue.
The act of delivering lines from a script during a voiceover session.
The quality of a voice that is amplified by the natural acoustics of the body, often used to add depth and richness to a voiceover performance.
A practice session where actors work through scenes and dialogue in preparation for a performance.
The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the union for actors and voice actors in the United States.
Another actor with whom an actor shares a scene, typically interacting with them through dialogue and physical action.
A professional recording space equipped with sound-treated walls, high-quality microphones, and other audio equipment.
An on-line resource where world-wide actors and voice-actors show-case their talents. It is used by casting directors and agencies to find talent for projects.
A visual representation of audio waveforms that can help identify and correct issues in a recording.
A software program used to transmit high-quality audio over the internet for remote recording sessions. It’s highly recommended to still record in your own home studio at the same time for backup purposes.
The process of creating or selecting sound effects and background music to enhance a voiceover recording.
A soundproof recording studio used for voiceover work.
The practice of stating one’s name and other relevant information at the beginning of a recording session or audition. The purpose of slating is to provide the recording studio or client with a clear recording of who is performing the voiceover and other details that may be important for organizational purposes.
The ability to read and perform lines from a script without prior preparation.
A portion of a script used for an audition or rehearsal, typically containing only the lines and actions for a specific character.
A hissing or whistling sound caused by overly emphasized S and Z sounds, often corrected with EQ or de-essing techniques, although better enunciation and microphone skills should also be addressed.
A scheduled period of time during which a voice actor records their lines for a project.
The written text of a voiceover project, including dialogue, instructions, and notes (such as pace and timings).
A recording of a single attempt at delivering a line or section of a script.
A device used to display lines for an actor to read during a performance.
The process of recording multiple takes of a single line or section of a script to give the editor more options during post-production.
The overall character or mood conveyed by a voiceover performance, often influenced by inflection, pacing, and emphasis.
The unique quality of a voice or instrument that makes it recognizable, often influenced by factors such as age, gender, and vocal technique.
A musical track used to accompany a voiceover.
This is an important part of the voice-over quote – where will the script be used (TV, radio, on-line)? How many impressions? Which countries?
A set of exercises and techniques that are used to prepare the voice before singing or speaking. These warm-up exercises are designed to help the vocal cords and surrounding muscles become more flexible, relaxed, and ready to produce sound.
The art of providing voiceover for characters in a production, such as a radio play or video game.
Voice-Over IP (VOIP)
A technology that enables voice communication over the internet or other IP-based networks, such as ipDTL, CleanFeed and SourceConnect.
A compilation of a voice actor’s best work, used to showcase their vocal range and versatility to potential clients or agents.
Spoken narration or dialogue not spoken by an actor on screen. Also written as voice over and voice-over.
The ability of a voice actor to perform a variety of different voices or characters.
A professional who helps actors and voice actors improve their vocal technique and performance.
A performer who uses their voice to bring characters, narration, and other content to life in a voiceover recording.
Voice of God (VOG)
Award ceremony or theatre voiceovers either pre-recorded or, more often, live.
The process of recording spoken dialogue for use in a production (such as commercials, films, television shows, video games, corporate animation and audiobooks), typically not involving the physical presence of the actor on screen (also written as voice-over).
Vocal exercises and stretches done by a voice actor to prepare for a recording session.
A recording of ambient sound or sound effects, often used in post-production to enhance a scene.
In the context of voiceover, “wild lines” typically refer to individual lines or phrases that are recorded separately from the main recording session. They are recorded in response to specific requests or to address technical issues such as sound quality or timing. In essence, “wild lines” are recordings that are done outside of the primary recording session, and are used to enhance or modify the original voiceover performance. Also known as “ABCs”, it is a request to have a particular line (usually tag-lines” spoken in a variety of ways, pacing or intonation, so as to get the best feel.
A three-pin cable used to connect microphones to audio equipment.
The total income earned by an actor or voice actor in a year, including salary, residuals, and other forms of compensation.
A phrase used to signal the end of a take or scene.
A video conferencing software that allows remote communication and collaboration, often used for virtual auditions, table reads, or meetings in the entertainment industry
Understanding terminology related to the voiceover industry is important for anyone who wants to pursue a career in this field. It is a highly specialized industry that requires precision, accuracy, and clarity in communication.
Knowing the technical jargon and terminology used in the voiceover industry helps individuals to communicate effectively with clients, production teams, and other professionals in the industry. It also enables them to understand the expectations of clients and producers, the requirements of a particular project, and the technical aspects of recording and editing voiceovers.
Recognising terms such as “scratch track,” “ADR,” “pickup,” “room tone,” and “wild track” allows voiceover artists to perform their job duties with more confidence and professionalism. It also helps them to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes that can lead to project delays or loss of work. In summary, a thorough understanding of the terminology used in the voiceover industry is essential for anyone looking to build a successful career in this competitive and dynamic field.