Isn't voice over just reading words on a page? Nope. I can get anyone on the street to read words on a page for me. I’m looking for something more. Oral interpretation. It’s voice acting. A very specialized skill set. It requires talent, training, directability, an ear and imagination.
Now you might say acting is acting. Film. Stage. Video. But it’s a little different in a soundproof isolation booth. We’re working with a lot of layers here, like text and subtext which yields emotional color, plot development, character development, pacing, energy, etc.
The real process is internal. It’s never just about words on a page. Because without your unique interpretation what do you have? Black words on a white page. An empty voice. It’s two dimensional. Do they make special glasses for movies in 2D? I don’t think so. Because two dimensions are flat. No emotional depth.
Do you want to live in black and white? Or color? We move through a scene, adding emotional and psychological color to the stark black and white words on the page. Adding that third dimension of emotional depth. And if you’re not, I don’t want to hear it. It bores me.
My movie analogy isn’t by accident. It’s cinematic. Nothing less. I see it on the movie screen in my mind. If I’m doing my job right, I completely forget I’m in a sound booth and I’m transported to another place. Maybe another country, another time. One thing’s for sure. I don’t think I’m just a guy standing in a soundproof booth, barking words into a chunk of metal.
If the scene takes place in a restaurant, when I walk into the voice booth, I see and feel the atmosphere. I hear the sound of the knives and forks hitting the plates. I smell the garlic, I see the single red carnation in the little glass vase, the candle on the table and the guy plying his date with food and drink. I hear the dude who’s had three too many telling that same story too loud. The two college students fixing the world’s problems over a glass of vino. These sights and sounds are just the starting point. That feeds my imagination. And my imagination becomes my eyes.
This is the real work. Using my imagination to filter the words on the page through my thoughts and feelings, then projecting it on the screen in my mind. Creating a scene. Something intriguing, funny or warm. Something compelling.