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Voice acting

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The cast of the Sierra Leonean radio soap opera Atunda Ayenda
Actors dubbing a television show in China while visitors look on

Voice acting is the art of performing a character or providing information to an audience with one's voice. Performers are often called voice actors/actresses in addition to other names.[a] Examples of voice work include animated, off-stage, off-screen, or non-visible characters in various works such as films, dubbed foreign films, anime, television shows, video games, cartoons, documentaries, commercials, audiobooks, radio dramas and comedies, amusement rides, theater productions, puppet shows, and audio games.

The role of a voice actor may involve singing, most often when playing a fictional character, although a separate performer is sometimes enlisted as the character's singing voice. A voice actor may also simultaneously undertake motion capture acting. Non-fictional voice acting is heard through pre-recorded and automated announcements that are a part of everyday modern life in areas such as stores, elevators, waiting rooms, and public transport. Voice acting is recognized as a specialized dramatic profession in the United Kingdom, primarily due to BBC Radio's long and storied history of producing radio dramas.[1]





Character voices


The voices for animated characters are provided by voice actors. For live-action productions, voice acting often involves reading the parts of computer programs, radio dispatchers or other characters who never actually appear on screen. With an audio drama, there is more freedom because there is no need to match a dub to the original actor or animated character. Producers and agencies are often on the lookout for many styles of voices, such as booming voices for more dramatic productions or cute, young-sounding voices for trendier markets. Some voices sound like regular, natural, everyday people; all of these voices have their place in the voiceover world, provided they are used correctly and in the right context.[2]



In the context of voice acting, narration is the use of spoken commentary to convey a story to an audience.[3] A narrator is a personal character or a non-personal voice that the creator of the story develops to deliver information about the plot to the audience. The voice actor who plays the narrator is responsible for performing the scripted lines assigned to them. In traditional literary narratives (such as novels, short stories, and memoirs) narration is a required story element; in other types of (chiefly non-literary) narratives (such as plays, television shows, video games, and films) narration is optional.[citation needed]



One of the most common uses for voice acting is within commercial advertising. The voice actor is hired to voice a message associated with the advertisement. This has different sub-genres such as television, radio, film, and online advertising. The sub-genres are all different styles in their own right. For example, television commercials tend to be voiced with a narrow, flat inflection pattern (or prosody pattern) whereas radio commercials, especially local ones, tend to be voiced with a very wide inflection pattern in an almost over-the-top style. Marketers and advertisers use voice-overs in radio, TV, online adverts, and more; total advertising spend in the UK was forecast to be £21.8 billion in 2017.[citation needed] Voice-over used in commercial adverts had traditionally been the only area of voice acting where "de-breathing" was used.[4] This means artificially removing breaths from the recorded voice, and is done to stop the audience being distracted in any way from the commercial message that is being put across.[citation needed] However, removal of breaths has now become increasingly common in many other types of voice acting.[5]



Dub localization is the practice of voice-over translation, in which voice actors alter a foreign-language film or television series. Voice-over translation is an audiovisual translation[6] technique, in which, unlike in Dub localization, actor voices are recorded over the original audio track, which can be heard in the background. This method of translation is most often used in documentaries and news reports to translate words of foreign-language interviewees.[citation needed]

Automated dialogue replacement


Automated dialogue replacement (ADR) is the process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor after the filming process to improve audio quality or reflect dialogue changes, also known as "looping" or a "looping session".[7][8] ADR is also used to change original lines recorded on set to clarify context, improve diction or timing, or to replace an accented vocal performance. In the UK, it is also called "post-synchronization" or "post-sync".[citation needed]

Automated announcements


Voice artists are also used to record the individual sample fragments played back by a computer in an automated announcement. At its simplest, each recording consists of a short phrase which is played back when necessary, such as the "mind the gap" announcement introduced on the London Underground in 1969, which is currently voiced by Emma Clarke. In a more complicated system, such as a speaking clock, 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". Automated announcements can also include on-hold messages on phone systems and location-specific announcements in tourist attractions.

AI-generated and AI-modified voices


Since the late 2010s, software to modify and generate human voices has become more popular. In 2019, AI startup Dessa created the computer-generated voice of Joe Rogan using thousands of hours of audio from his podcast,[9] while video game developer Ubisoft used speech synthesis to give thousands of characters distinguished voices in its 2020 game Watch Dogs: Legion, and Google announced that same year their solution to generate human-like speech from text.[10]

Most voice actors and others in the entertainment industry have reacted negatively to this development due to the threat it poses to their livelihood.[11] The 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike included negotiations between the union and Hollywood studios about the regulation of AI, as well as discussions with video game studios about new terms that would protect voice actors who specialize in that field.[12][13] Although SAG-AFTRA heralded the deal it struck with AI company Replica Studios as a breakthrough due to its supposed ability to give actors more control over licensing their voice and how it may be used, the deal received backlash for its actual lack of protections from prominent voice actors such as Steve Blum, Joshua Seth, Veronica Taylor, and Shelby Young.[11] The use of AI voices in video games and animation has also been criticized in general by voice actors such as Jennifer Hale, David Hayter, Maile Flanagan, and Ned Luke.[11]

AI voices have caused concern due to the creation of believable audio deepfakes featuring celebrities or other public figures saying things they did not actually say, which could lead to a synthetic version of their voice being used against them.[14] In October 2023, during the start of the British Labour Party's conference in Liverpool, an audio deepfake of Labour leader Keir Starmer was released that falsely portrayed him verbally abusing his staffers and criticizing Liverpool.[15] That same month, an audio deepfake of Slovak politician Michal Šimečka falsely claimed to capture him discussing ways to rig the upcoming election.[16] In January 2024, voters in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary received phone calls featuring an AI-generated voice of U.S. President Joe Biden that tried to discourage them from voting.[17]

Voice acting by country


United States


In films, television, and commercials, voice actors are often recruited through voice acting agencies.

United Kingdom


The UK banned broadcasting of the voices of people linked to violence in Northern Ireland from 1988 to 1994, but television producers circumvented this by simply having voice actors dub over synchronized footage of the people who had been banned.[18]



Voice actor (Japanese: 声優, Hepburn: Seiyū) occupations include 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. Japan has approximately 130 voice acting schools and troupes of voice actors who usually 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 performer. Many Japanese voice actors frequently branch into music, often singing the opening or closing themes of shows in which they star, or become involved in non-animated side projects such as audio dramas (involving the same characters in new storylines) or image songs (songs sung in character that are not included in the anime but which further develop the character).



Most of the films in the theaters are dubbed in Portuguese, and most Brazilians tend to prefer watching movies in their native language.[which?] Many voice actors are also dubbing directors and translators. To become a voice actor in Brazil, one needs to be a professional actor and attend dubbing courses. Some celebrities in Brazil have also done voice acting.[citation needed]



Voice acting in Iran is divided into three categories. Voice over Persian films, voice over Iranian animations, and dubbing of films and animations related to other countries (in non-Persian language) In the first category, due to the lack of facilities for simultaneous recording of sound while filming a film, the voice actors spoke instead of the film actors. Although this type of voice is related to years ago and now with the increase of facilities, it is possible to record the voice of the actors at the same time, but even today, sometimes the voice of the voice actors is used instead of the main actor. The tail of the voice is on Iranian animations, and like in other parts of the world, voice actors speak instead of animated characters. But most of the activities of Iranian voice actors are in the field of dubbing foreign films. In this case, the main language of the film is translated into Persian, and the dubbing director compiles the sentences according to the atmosphere of the film and the movement of the actors 'mouths and other such cases, and finally the voice actors play roles instead of the actors' voices.

Voice acting in video games


Actors often lend their voices to characters in games and some have made a career of it across many of the main game-manufacturing countries, mostly the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Their names have sometimes been linked to a particular character they have voiced.

Notable video game voice actors include Maaya Sakamoto (the Japanese version of Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII),[19] Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Noctis Lucis Caelum in Final Fantasy XV), Miyu Irino (the Japanese version of Sora in the Kingdom Hearts series), David Hayter (Solid Snake and Big Boss in the Metal Gear series), Steve Downes and Jen Taylor (Master Chief and Cortana in the Halo series), Nolan North (Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series and Desmond Miles in the Assassin's Creed series), Troy Baker (Joel in The Last of Us series) and Charles Martinet (Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi in Nintendo's Mario franchise).[citation needed]

Other actors more linked with film or television acting have also voiced video game characters, such as Ray Liotta (Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Billy Handsome in Call of Duty: Black Ops II), Michael Dorn (various characters in World of Warcraft and Gatatog Uvenk in Mass Effect 2), Kaili Vernoff (Miranda Cowan in Grand Theft Auto V and Susan Grimshaw in Red Dead Redemption 2), Ashley Johnson (Ellie in The Last of Us series), Kristen Bell (Lucy Stillman in the first three mainline entries in the Assassin's Creed franchise) and Kevin Spacey (Jonathan Irons in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare).

Some actors from both live-action and animated works have also reprised their respective roles in video games, such as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker) in the Batman: Arkham series, Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo) in Mortal Kombat 11, various actors from the works of Walt Disney Animation Studios in Kingdom Hearts, and Mike Pollock (Doctor Eggman) in Sonic the Hedgehog.

See also



  1. ^ Other names include voice artists, VO artists, VO talent, dubbing artists, voice talent, voice-over artists, and voice-over talent.


  1. ^ "Soundstart - Acting for Radio". Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  2. ^ How to be a voiceover in todays world "How to become a Voiceover Artist – the Voice Finder". Archived from the original on 18 September 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  3. ^ Hühn, Peter; Sommer, Roy (2012). "Narration in Poetry and Drama". The Living Handbook of Narratology. Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology, University of Hamburg. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Debreath your Voiceovers the Human Way". Gravy Times - Voiceover Blog. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Are you afflicted with heavy breathing?". Tim Bick Voiceover - Voiceover Tips. 30 January 2023. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  6. ^ USA, Translate (17 December 2014). "Voice-over Translation". USATranslate.com. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  7. ^ Cowdog (2009). "ADR: Hollywood Dialogue Recording Secrets". Creative COW Magazine. Creative COW. Archived from the original on 15 August 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  8. ^ Masters, Kim (31 January 2008). "The Dark Knight Without Heath Ledger: How will Warner Bros. sell a summer blockbuster marked by tragedy?". Slate. The Slate Group, LLC. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: RealTalk: We Recreated Joe Rogan's Voice Using Artificial Intelligence, retrieved 21 February 2020
  10. ^ "Tacotron 2: Generating Human-like Speech from Text". Google AI Blog. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Zulhusni, Muhammad (2024-01-18). "Why are voice actors up in arms over AI in gaming?". Tech Wire Asia. Retrieved 2024-07-17.
  12. ^ Press, Matt O'Brien,The Associated. "Voice actors face a reckoning in the age of AI—but some are leaning into the technology". Fortune. Retrieved 2024-07-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Quach, Katyanna (Aug 24, 2023). "Hollywood studios agree AI-generated content should not reduce humans' pay or credit". Retrieved July 17, 2024.
  14. ^ Zotkin, D. N.; Shamma, S. A.; Ru, P.; Duraiswami, R.; Davis, L. S. (April 2003). "Pitch and timbre manipulations using cortical representation of sound". 2003 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, 2003. Proceedings. (ICASSP '03). Vol. 5. pp. V–517–20. doi:10.1109/ICASSP.2003.1200020. ISBN 978-0-7803-7663-2. S2CID 10372569.
  15. ^ "Deepfake audio of Sir Keir Starmer released on first day of Labour conference". Sky News. Retrieved 2024-07-17.
  16. ^ Meaker, Morgan. "Slovakia's Election Deepfakes Show AI Is a Danger to Democracy". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2024-07-17.
  17. ^ "New Hampshire investigating fake Biden robocall meant to discourage voters ahead of primary". AP News. 2024-01-22. Retrieved 2024-07-17.
  18. ^ Williams, Rhys (16 September 1994). "Broadcasters welcome end to 'censorship'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  19. ^ Square Enix (9 March 2010). Final Fantasy XIII (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360).