A Toast for National Voice-over Appreciation Month

Posted By James on Sep 06 2010 08:10 PM
September is National Voice-Over Appreciation Month. I’m lucky enough to be a part of the voice-over community, but I thought I’d take a moment to share with you the many ways that I interact with voice-over when I’m not the one on the microphone.

When I’m driving, a pleasant sounding British woman tells me where to turn. This makes for a total of two women in the car giving me directions.
When I shop, an overhead voice tells me what’s on sale… or that I’ve spent too much time in electronics and the store is now closing.
When I call a business, I’m often prompted to choose a language: English or Spanish. Then I’m transferred to a person who is fluent in neither.
At the movies I’m asked to silence my cell-phone. Later, a God-like voice informs me that an up-coming movie will take place “in a world” that looks much more exciting than my own…with prettier people milling about. Afterwards, as I’m pulling out of the parking garage, a thoughtful voice warns pedestrians that I’m not paying attention to them…so they’d better stay sharp if they don’t want to get run over!
Even on vacation…perhaps especially on vacation…you’ll encounter voice-overs. I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles twice recently. There is an elevator there that has such a distinct way of announcing your arrival to the “lobby” that it’s become a bit of a catchphrase with guests and staff. She (the elevator) says “lobby” the way that you or I might say ‘chocolate’ or ‘sexy.’ It certainly makes you feel as if you’ve landed somewhere special. Forget the amusement parks-I’m staying in the lobby all day!
I love theme parks-especially Disneyland! Inside the many lands Uncle Walt created for us, you’re greeted by Star Wars characters, ghosts and goblins, and other Goofy characters whose voices are instantly recognizable to you. If you stay on the property, you can even get a wake-up call from a princess, or a mouse. Although, oddly, when they pose for pictures with you they clam up.
Speaking of characters, I’m as familiar with the pipes of Cap’n Crunch, Toucan Sam and Tony the Tiger as I am with the voices of my own parents! And I know that it’s “fun to put Snap, Crackle, Pop” into my morning because three little elves have told me that for 30 + years. I’ve gotten older, they haven’t. That’s not fair.
But voice-over isn’t just for breakfast anymore; it’s everywhere! Sure, it’s where you expect it to be: radio, film, TV, games and animation… But it’s also reading books to you on long car rides, teaching you a foreign language online, and giving dieter’s encouragement when they step on the scale (or Wii Fit balance board).
These are just a few ways that voice-overs touch our lives on a daily basis. But have you ever considered how those voices got there? Each one of the examples I’ve given you involve a specialized artist called a voice-actor. These voice talents use only their vocal range and acting abilities to create the intended theater of the mind… to share the proper mood, feeling, and sentiment with the audience.
Once upon a time, voice-actors had to live in Hollywood or the Big Apple in order to book jobs. That is rapidly changing and today many voice-actors record and upload files from their homes or private studios; in their jammies, underwear, or in the buff. How’s that for theater of the mind?
The convenience of home-recording, however, also puts the talent on an island with them-selves. Despite this, the voice-over community feels pretty friendly and tight-knit, thanks largely to online social-networking, as well as the occasional conference and other events.
This month, the voice-over community is joining forces to recognize the unseen gabbers in your midst, declaring September National Voice-Over Appreciation Month! You can learn more by visiting http://www.nationalvoiceovermonth.com/
Me? My throat is a little scratchy from growling out a ‘Monster Truck’ commercial this afternoon. So I’m heading home now to veg in front of the tube. Not sure what’s on, but I’m sure someone will tell me. Before I hit the couch, though, I’ll pop open a beer and raise a toast to my fellow voice-actors. By the way, my bottle-opener does a nifty impression of Homer Simpson. He likes beer, too. He tells me so.
Cheers, my friends! Here’s to voice-overs!
Dan Roberts is an award-winning voice-actor, copywriter and producer. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful wife and three kinetic kittens. You can hear Dan as the voice of Hammy the Squirrel in Over the Hedge, as well as Dilbert and his pointy-haired boss, by visiting www.babelgum.com



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