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When Is A Character Voice Not A Character Voice?

Posted 9:49 am by team

I recently stumbled across a couple of advertisements for Seagram’s Vodka (of all things) that featured some really fun voice over performances. There are three ads that focus on classic football rivalries (Bears vs. Packers, Giants Vs. Eagles, and Patriots vs. Dolphins), but that don’t actually use any football related imagery or sounds. What I especially like about these commercials, though, is that they spotlight a unique style of voice over that are character voices, but not quite character voices.

What I mean by that is that while clearly these aren’t the voice actors’ normal speaking voices, they’re also not celebrity impressions or weird, wacky voices that only someone like Mel Blanc, Harry Shearer, or Seth MacFarlane could produce. Instead, they’re mostly just slightly affected voices that, due to the delivery and the script, have a tremendous impact.

Take the “giant” in this next commerical, for example:

That’s not a traditional “character” voice. Instead, it’s a voice actor who (presumably) already has a deep voice, who delivers his lines with a deep breathy tone, and adds a bit of a snarl to his voice. This is the type of delivery that any voice actor with some creativity can deliver. Likewise, the eagle in the piece doesn’t really have an accent or a particular voice quality; instead, the producers of the piece simply cast someone with a higher-pitched voice who exudes a lot of energy and attitude. Yet, when you watch the commercial (or any of the three commercials, for that matter), your first instinct is to consider these “character” voices.

My point is that a lot of people try to put too many different voices on their demo, when that’s not really their strength. If you do character voices, that’s terrific; your demo should reflect that. And of course, you clearly want to try to have as much range on your demo as you possibly can. But sometimes that range isn’t about being able to do a killer British accent or George W. Bush impression. It’s about using the voice you have to the best of your ability. Instead of trying to push your voice to do things it can’t do, focus instead on trying to get the most out of what it can do. Stretch not just your voice but your delivery to the fullest range of your talent. That’s what a good voice over demo should be comprised of.

Because you never know when you might get called upon to play a dolphin, or a giant, or even a piece of cheese. And who knows what any of them really sounds like anyway? Maybe they sound exactly like you!

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