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    2010 - 05.25

    One question I have been asked over and over down through the years is; “How did you get started in this business?”

    The answer is… I don’t know.

    Actually, that’s a complete lie. I remember very well how I arrived at the decision. I had been toiling in the radio and TV news business for a number of years and was growing weary of getting to work at 5:00 a.m., working on holidays, living on coffee and cigarettes, navigating my way through interviews with
    politicans and dealing with insane station managers. One day I had had enough and decided there had to be something better in life.
    So, having no idea whatsoever of what I was getting myself into, I resigned a fairly high-paying job at a very successful radio station and began my journey into the voiceover world.

    That’s just the beginning, but it would take far too much time and space to go on and on about my career path from it’s inception to the present day. In short, I would say to anyone who’s thinking about pursuing a career as a voiceover artist;
    just do it. You’ll find your way. If you have talent and are persistent, things will happen eventually.

    Voice-over techniques explained:

    As a character device In the 1956 film version of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Richard Basehart, as Ishmael, narrates the story and sometimes comments on the action in voice-over, as does William Holden in the films Sunset Boulevard and The Counterfeit Traitor, as well as John Mills in David Lean’s Great Expectations (based on Charles Dickens’s novel) and Michael York in a television remake of the book. Voice-over technique is likewise used to give voices and personalities to animated characters. Among the most noteworthy and versatile of whom include Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Don Messick and June Foray. Legendary NBC announcer Don Pardo has also done many voice-overs.

    As a creative device In film, the film-maker places the sound of a human voice (or voices) over images shown on the screen that may or may not be related to the images being shown. Consequently, voice-overs are sometimes used to create ironic counterpoint. Also, sometimes they can be random voices not directly connected to the people seen on the screen. In works of fiction, the voice-over is often by a character reflecting back on his or her past, or by a person external to the story who usually has a more complete knowledge of the events in the film than the other characters. Voice-overs are often used to create the effect of storytelling by a character/omniscient narrator. For example, in The Usual Suspects, the character of Roger “Verbal” Kint has voice-over segments as he is recounting details of a crime. Other examples of storytelling voice-overs can be heard in Gattaca, Blade Runner, The Shawshank Redemption, Big Fish, How to Train Your Dragon, Moulin Rouge!, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Raising Arizona, Goodfellas and Clash of the Titans. Sometimes, voice-over can be used to aid continuity in edited versions of films, in order for the audience to gain a better understanding of what has gone on between scenes. This was done when the 1948 Joan of Arc, starring Ingrid Bergman, turned out to be far from the box-office and critical hit that was expected, and was edited down from 145 minutes to 100 minutes for its second run in theatres. The edited version, which circulated for years, used narration to conceal the fact that large chunks of the film had been cut. In the full-length version, restored in 1998 and released on DVD in 2004, the voice-over narration is heard only at the beginning of the film. The genre of film noir is especially associated with the voice-over technique. In radio, voice-overs are an integral part of the success of the radio programme. Although the announcer holds the prestige and claims all the glory, it is the voice-over artist that is the real drive behind the show. One example is David M. Green’s Summer Pow-Wow [1] and his voice-over artist, Tim Wray.

    As an educational or descriptive device The voice-over has many applications in non-fiction as well. Television news is often presented as a series of video clips of newsworthy events, with voice-over by the reporters describing the significance of the scenes being presented; these are interspersed with straight video of the news anchors describing stories for which video is not shown. Television networks such as The History Channel and the Discovery Channel make extensive use of voice-overs. On NBC, the television show Starting Over used Sylvia Villagran as the voice-over narrator to tell a story. Live sports broadcasts are usually shown as extensive voice-overs by expert announcers over video of the sporting event. Game shows formerly made extensive use of voice-overs to introduce contestants and describe available or awarded prizes, but this technique has diminished as shows have moved toward predominantly cash prizes. Voice-over commentary by a leading critic, historian, or by the production personnel themselves is often a prominent feature of the release of feature films or documentaries on DVDs.

    As a commercial device The commercial use of voice-over in advertising has been popular since the beginning of radio broadcasting. In the early years, before effective sound recording and mixing, announcements were produced “live” and at-once in a studio with the entire cast, crew and, usually, orchestra. A corporate sponsor hired a producer, who hired writers and voice actors to perform comedy or drama. The industry expanded very rapidly with the advent of television in the 1950s and the age of highly produced serial radio shows ended. The ability to record high-quality sound on magnetic tape also created opportunities, as has the proliferation of home computers capable of recording, often using inexpensive (even free) software and a microphone of reasonable quality. Manufacturers will often use a distinctive voice to help them with brand messaging, often retaining talent to a long term exclusive contract.

    As a translation device Main article: Voice-over translation In some countries, such as Russia and Poland, a voice-over provided by a single artist is commonly used on television as a language localization technique, as an alternative to full dubbing. In Bulgaria, voice-over translation is also common, but each film (or episode) is normally voiced by at least four actors. The voice artists try to match the original voice and preserve the intonation. The main reason for the use of this type of translation is that unlike synchronized voice translation, it takes a relatively short time to produce as there is no need to synchronize the voices with the character’s lip movements, which is compensated by the quieted original audio. When there is no speaking in the film for some time, the original sound is turned up. Recently, as more films are distributed with separate voice and noises-and-music tracks, some voice-over translations in Bulgaria are produced by only turning down the voice track, in this way not affecting the other sounds. One actor always reads the translation crew’s names over the show’s ending credits (except for when there are dialogs over the credits).