Performers are called voice actors or actresses, voice artists or simply voice talent. Their roles may also involve singing, although a second voice actor is sometimes cast as the character's singing voice. Voice acting is recognized in Britain as a specialized dramatic profession, chiefly owing to the BBC's long tradition of radio drama.
Voice artists are also used to record the individual sample fragments played back by a computer in an automated announcement. At its simplest, this is just a short phrase which is played back as necessary, e.g. the Mind the gap announcement introduced by London Underground in 1969. In a more complicated system such as a speaking clock, the voice artist usually doesn't actually record 1,440 different announcements, one for each minute of the day, or even 60 (one for each minute of the hour), instead the announcement is re-assembled from fragments such as "minutes past" "eighteen" and "p.m." For example, the word "twelve" can be used for both "Twelve O'Clock" and "Six Twelve." For some automated applications, such as London Underground's Mind the gap announcement, the sound of a voice artist may be preferred over synthesized voices because the human voices sound more natural to the listener.
Seiyū (Japanese: 声優?) occupations include these: performing roles in anime, audio dramas and video games, performing voice-overs for dubs of non-Japanese movies and providing narration to documentaries and similar programs. Because the animation industry in Japan is so prolific, voice actors in Japan are able to have full-time careers as voice-over artists. Japanese voice actors are able to take greater charge of their careers than in other countries. Japan also has the institutions to support the career path, with around 130 voice acting schools and troupes of voice actors who work for a specific broadcast company or talent agency. They often attract their own appreciators and fans who watch shows specifically to hear their favorite actor or actress.
Many Japanese voice actors frequently branch into music, often singing the opening or closing themes of shows in which their character stars, or they become involved in non-animated side projects such as audio dramas (involving the same characters in new story lines) or image songs (songs sung in character that are not included in the anime but further develop the character).