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How to Hire Voice Actors For Animated Videos

In today’s competitive market, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to your animation business, especially when it comes to staffing. Staff members are the ones that can make or break your business. 

The skills a voice actor can bring to your animation business could be as valuable as those of an accountant, web designer, or SEO manager. They can bring a sense of authenticity to brands, thus, making more meaningful relationships with customers. They also help get and keep your viewers attention and boost conversion rate.

When selecting a voice actor, your first instinct would be to hire the most experienced ones. But there’s more to it than just the artist’s experience. It’s about finding a voice that fits the tone, goals, and personality of your animation client’s brand.

In this article, we will discuss how to hire voice actors as an animator.

Benefits of Hiring Voice Actors for Animated Videos

A great voice-over will emotionally communicate what your video is about and makes it more appealing than just adding text and background music.

But of course, everything comes with a price. If you’re worried about the out-of-pocket cost of hiring professional voice actors, take some time to consider what you can gain.

1) Saves Time

The Simpsons many people do it to save time

GIF from Bart Simpson by GIPHY

Voice actors are professional artists so they usually get the job done right the first time. They can do 1 to 2 takes what an inexperienced voice actor can do in 5 to 10 takes.

They are deadline-oriented, especially with variations in expressions, accents, and character voices, and are more likely to finish within the set deadline.

2) Reduces Costs

South Park character talking about reduced costs

GIF from South Park by GIPHY

Most voice actors have their own recording studio, sound equipment, or audio editing software. They can even edit and master their audio tracks, so you won’t have to outsource or buy any equipment.

This is much more cost-effective than renting a recording studio every time you have a project.

3) Builds Trust and Authority

friends having fist bump

GIF from Cartoon Network by GIPHY

Most voice actors have an extensive background in acting in front of the camera or on stage. They offer real authenticity to your video which significantly influences potential animation clients.

They give your brand familiarity for clients can easily associate the voice to your business. Most especially when you use the same voice actor for your animation videos. This is even more beneficial because it can help drive up sales.

4) Brings In Expertise

court hearing from The Simpsons

GIF from Simpsons World by GIPHY

Voice actors have the ability to deliver exactly what they promise so that they meet the needs of your video. They listen to directions and suggestions to convey the tone of the brand and provide information about the product or service.

It’s their livelihood and business which means they have extensive background and knowledge of the industry. They know what people want by moving around studios and meeting different people. They would have also worked with a number of corporations throughout the years making it easier to relate to your needs.

How To Hire Voice Actors for Animated Videos

1) Hold a Voice-Over Audition

woman boldly auditioning

GIF from Poms by GIPHY

The internet is a large modern marketplace and you can easily hire voice-over artists by placing an ad on different online casting sites such as Voice123, Upwork, Bodalgo, etc.

Voice123

Voice123 is the world’s first voice-over marketplace and is the top choice for professional voice actors and clients. It has a simple search platform and a browsable database. You can post a job offer by completing the project creation form and the site automatically sends out invitations to different artists. You can use Voice123’s system to communicate with your chosen voice-over artist and discuss the details of your project. They also have a bookings feature where you can hire voice-over artists directly based on the rates they have set.

Upwork

Upwork is one of the oldest and most popular freelance marketplaces and serves as a place where animators can find professional voice-over artists. You can simply post a job on their marketplace and it’s automatically shown to different professionals and agencies. Or you can check out their Project Catalog which makes it easy for you to browse, compare and hire voice-over artists.

Bodalgo

Bodalgo is much smaller and niche-specific compared to other marketplaces, that is, it’s merely for hiring voice-over artists. You can post a job offer for free within a few minutes, and possible candidates will then receive an invitation to audition. You view the offers and pick the artists of your choice. They also offer other free services, like the bodalgoCall, where you connect to a voice-over artist’s studio in real-time and can do a live recording session. 

Craigslist

Craigslist is a website that works a lot like the Classifieds section of a newspaper, and it’s free to use. They cover every category you can think of and also have discussion forums where users can discuss different topics and connect with other people.

Another way of holding auditions is through a custom voice-over audition. Many voice actors will provide a custom audition of your project’s script for free. 

In this way, you can get a taste of what the final product would sound like. Send them a line or two from your script or if it’s a very short ad, you can send them the whole thing. And maybe you can give some feedback prior to the assignment of the final script.

Another option would be to hire voice talent agencies and let them hold auditions for you. It saves you time in the search process and guarantees customer satisfaction.

2) Listen To Demo Reels

woman pointing out facts

GIF from Reddit by GIPHY

The competition for voice actors today is heavy. Anyone and everyone can do a voice-over job.

That’s why listening to different samples is very important. It allows you to hear different voices in different styles from different projects. 

It helps you in deciding what you really need because you can compare their previous work to your recent project. It also gives you an idea of what their voice can achieve in terms of adaptability and flexibility.

Go for someone with a wide range of vocal ability in their voice-over demos. Most voice actors have different sample recordings showcasing their full range and versatility from their previous projects.

A voice actor’s skill level and past work and experience are evident in their portfolios. It’s important to check them out, alongside listening to demos, to see if their experience and skills are perfect for you and your animation client.

You can also check the testimonials page of the voice actor’s website and see what their previous clients are saying about them.

3) Select Your Top Choices

making the perfect celection

GIF from BigBang Theory by GIPHY

Make a list of your top choices and present it to your whole team. The ones who get a high rating or majority of votes will be added to your list of voice actors.

Voice actors have different specialties — you can consider the following criteria when it comes to picking your top choices:

Project Type

Some of the common voice-over projects are:

  1. Commercials. They almost always have voice-overs. Its main focus is not playing the character, but rather, to communicate a message to the viewers. It’s the most profitable with repeat work and guaranteed payments and contracts.
  2. Animation. This consists of images either hand-drawn or digitally animated with computers to tell stories. The film industry is always looking for actors to voice animated characters, like in Disney’s Moana or the popular TV program The Simpsons.
  3. Audiobooks. Its popularity has increased over time and is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Credits go to companies like Apple Books and Audible, voice-over artists now have a huge amount of opportunities. Voice-over artists are often hired to play multiple roles by themselves, which makes listening to an audiobook even more dynamic. 
  4. Video Games. It is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the voice acting industry. Everything from Xbox and PlayStation to Mobile and PC games, the medium spans countless genres. With the popularity of motion capture and motion performance, voice actors will not only be the voice but also model the body movements as well.
  5. Educational Videos. Training materials, human resources videos, and university course videos are some of the videos that need voice-overs. The work includes providing word pronunciations, historical explanations, or even narration for learning games.
  6. Documentaries. This is a film that captures some aspects of the nonfiction world. It needs voice actors to narrate, move stories along, and keep listeners engaged. Popular examples can be found on networks such as The History Channel and National Geographic.

Tone

Some voices are expressive while others are just perfect for storytelling. Some are best for explainer videos while others are for commercial videos.

If you’re creating an animated video with a specific character, a voice that’s packed with emotion and personality is a perfect fit. A few tone personalities to consider are:

  1. Authoritative
  2. Trustworthy
  3. Conventional
  4. Friendly
  5. Energetic
  6. Bold
  7. Cool
  8. Sarcastic

If you’re creating a hard-sell commercial video, then a classic voice-over sound you hear on the radio and tv is what you need. A high-energy voice can build excitement and urgency that’s perfect for a hard sell. If it’s an educational video, go for a voice-over with a tone that sounds instructional and not commanding. 

Young people might relate to an expressive and upbeat voice. While older people will more likely relate to a deeper and more mature voice. 

A calm or caring voice can build trust and suggest a willingness to help. This type of voice-over is perfect for a hospital commercial video or any video relating to medical care.

Accent

Selecting the right accent can help make your voice-over relatable. For instance, a commercial video about a local restaurant can most likely appeal to local audiences by selecting a voice that best represents their locality.

Find a voice who authentically represents a specific race or background:

  1. Multicultural
  2. Latino
  3. Asian
  4. African American
  5. Indigenous

Make sure the voice actor will be able to influence the listener to help achieve the goals of your animated video.

Also, decide what kind of voice, whether male or female voice, would be the right fit for your animation video.

Beyond gender, you also have to consider different age groups and generations when hiring voice actors:

  1. Young Adult - Millenial and Gen Z
  2. Adult - Generation Z and Middle Age
  3. Mature Adult - Baby Boomer and Senior

4) Consider Your Animation Client

professionals talking about serious considerations

GIF from Wolf Entertainment by GIPHY

The most important thing in hiring voice actors isn’t about the talent or the money —  it’s about what your animation client wants.

They usually already have an image of the kind of voice that will resonate with them. You just need to know exactly what they’re looking for by preparing a list of questions, sort of like an assessment exam.

Make a narrowed-down list of voice-over artists that will most likely appeal to your animation client based on their answers to the questionnaire.  Will it be a female voiceover artist for a dental clinic advertisement or a male artist with a French accent?

But also keep in mind that the best voice-over artist is flexible and can match their clients’ different needs.

5) Send Your Rates and Guidelines

moria rose understanding requirements and expectations

GIF from CBC by GIPHY

After picking your top choices, send them your rates and guidelines. There are a lot of factors that determine the rates and pricing, such as usage, length, pickups, tags, and bundling.

  1. Usage. It refers to how and where the voice-over will be used. For instance, a public TV commercial will cost more than a product demo to employee training because the audience is much larger.
  2. Length. Basically, the longer the voice-over, the higher the cost. The average explainer video lasts 2-3 minutes long.
  3. Pickups. Any number of additional recordings the artist needs to perform after the original script is recorded and delivered. Script changes are usually the number one reason for pickups.
  4. Tags. They are different versions of the narration’s ending. This can be added on if ever you want a different tag for a TV commercial and another one for social media videos.
  5. Bundling. It is usually used when you have a series or long-format projects. Just keep in mind that when it comes to bundling scripts, they are needed to be recorded at the same time.

There are established rates in the voiceover industry but you can always attempt to negotiate. Most voice actors will charge more or less based on the scope of the project. Include in your guidelines the expected timeframe, communication, and payment methods.

Strive to set a rate that’s fair to both parties.

6) Onboard the Voice Actors

woman requesting meeting minutes

GIF from Hyper RPG by GIPHY

Once the voice actors agree to your rates and guidelines, it’s time to slowly onboard the voice actors.

Discuss availability, deadlines, and details of the project. Talk about whether you’d like a raw audio file or would you like for the artist to take care of the editing. Or whether you’re doing a live voiceover session or virtually through Skype or Zoom. 

Map out a structured plan and schedule to eliminate stress and unnecessary problems. Implement frequent check-ins and feedback sessions to strengthen the relationship of the entire team.

Summary

As an animator, there are many ways you can give your business a more professional edge. One of them is hiring a voice actor that’s been through a lot of training and built up skills over the years. A voice actor is an important element of your animation business because it can help you save time from doing multiple retakes, build trust and authority in your business, and bring expertise to every project you tackle.

Hold a voice-over audition by placing an ad on different online casting sites. Once they apply, check out their demo reels to have a first look at their experience and skills. You can even ask for a custom audition to hear how their voice will sound like with your project.

Pick out your top choices and let your whole team rate them. You can do this by determining the project type, finding the right tone, and selecting the right accent. Different types of video need different types of voices. Whoever gets a high rating or majority votes will be added to your list of voice actors.

Keep in mind that the most important rule in hiring voice actors isn’t about the experience — it’s about what kind of voice your animation client wants. Do they want a male or a female voice? Do they want a voice with an international or local accent? Although most voice-over artists are flexible since they are professionals and experts. 

After you’ve picked your top choices, send the voice actors your rates and guidelines. State on your guidelines the expected timeframe, communication, and payment methods. Money is not always the bottom line but it is a deciding factor in the hiring process. Once they agree, slowly onboard your newly hired voice actors to help strengthen your relationship and the relationship of the entire team.

For more tips and information about animation and its business side, download a copy of our free marketing handbook and sign up for our awesome free masterclass.

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