What is voice-over? That’s a question that would unveil how the world of audiovisuals becomes more captivating these days. In short, voice-over is the use of recorded voices to enrich the nuance of videos or any other forms.

Without you even realizing it, there are thousands of voice-over examples around you, from movie voices over like Peter Cullen acting as Optimus Prime to Visa commercials using Morgan Freeman‘s voice.

But what does voice-over mean? We’ll talk about it in this article, starting from voice-over definition to some examples of great voice-over. Read on!

What is Voice Over?

Voice-over is a part of content production where the recorded voices are put into videos, games, or other forms. It is used for delivering information, telling narratives, or adding emotional touch.

As the videos are taking the world by storm, we may think that voice-over is only about video content. It’s not entirely wrong, though. But in fact, the voiceover’s meaning can be broader than that. Any radios, audiobooks, or even automated phone messages use voice over, too.

It is believed that the history of voice-over itself started in 1900 or even before that. When Reginald Fessenden, an inventor, recorded himself reporting weather, that was known as one of the earliest voiceovers in the world.

Fast forward to our time, voice-over is about providing off-camera voices to the movies, video games, commercials, or even train station announcements. That said, they are recorded separately by an actor or a content creator.

So, what is a voice-over exactly? Is it just a random voice recorded for certain content?

Of course not. Any voices recorded must be relevant to the nuance or the character that will be brought to life. That way, the content will be more engaging or fit with the intent.

For example, in some action movies, you’ll hear a deep and super raspy voice, adding a more tense atmosphere to the narratives. On the other hand, for a commercial like AirBnB products that focus on cosy nuances, a more friendly and cheerful voice is much preferred.

Bear in mind that this technique of recording the right voice applies whether it is a solo production, where you are the only content creator, or a team production, like what we see in Hollywood movies.

Well, that’s basically the voice-over definition that we can hold on to understand it better.

And, one more thing, the term voice-over is often used interchangeably with the voice act. The one who performs the act is called a voice-over artist or a voice actor. And hence, everything they do when recording a voice-over is called voice acting.

Read More: How to Make ASMR Videos

Why is Voice Over Important?

You may wonder why voice-over is much needed, especially for most video content. Here are the reasons:

1. It Helps the Audience Understand Better

Imagine you’re watching a video from the National Geographic channel about an elephant’s family communication. What if it is all visuals and no voice-over added? You would have no clue what it is all about.

In the video, the doctor reveals that the elephants’ vocabulary is large. However, the narrator’s input truly enriches the experience by informing that elephants have over 30 distinct vocalizations.

This additional information will help you better understand the video due to some added context. The presence of voiceover transforms the video into an insightful and informative educational resource, just as one would expect from such a reliable source.

2. It Enhances the Immersive Experience

If you are still wondering: “What does voice-over mean?” you’d better check out how great the voice act works in the Mass Effect game. This action role-playing game hits its success due to its unique voice act it has.

Not only does it determine how the story goes, but the voice-over in the game creates an immersive experience when you choose the line for your hero. This has made the game gain a lot of attention from the gaming world.

The voice over from Mark Meer will make you feel as if you are Commander Shepard making a decision about what to say in your game. This voiceover really brings the characters to life.

3. It Builds an Emotional Connection

Not only does a voice-over is important to give additional information, but it also crucial to build an emotional connection with the audience. It applies to any form, from movies to commercials.

One of the scenes in the Ice Age movie when Diego the tiger is about to die can be one of the best voice-over examples for this reason. His hoarse voice and the cute voice of the baby in the background will add to the sadness of the scene.

4. It Becomes a Tool for Persuasion

Did you know that voiceover is more effective for recall than TV ads in general?

No kidding, Pandora found that audio ads placed between songs in personal music playlists perform 36% better than television ads to impact long-term memory.

This is why many industries are now turning their head to voice-over in most of their commercials. The advertiser will always try to make their message heard using many platforms like Spotify or YouTube.

5. It Gives Better Accessibility

With the addition of voiceover, your content becomes more accessible. It will effectively tackle language or cultural barriers that commonly arise when sharing content globally.

One of the common voice-over examples that can trespass cultural boundaries is Naruto, an anime series. While it is produced in Japan using Japanese voice actors, the series has spread all over the world and had dubbed into more than ten languages.

Not only for cultural reasons, voice over is the best way to provide people with limited or no sight to access the world better. One of the examples comes from Apple’s software that would explain what the iPhone displays.

6. It Maintains the Brand Tone

One of the most remarkable examples of voice-over comes from Nike’s Find Your Greatness commercial. The narrator delivered an incredible voice-over that uplifts the audience, inspiring them to surpass their limits to achieve their goals.

This inspirational advertising campaign has captivated millions of viewers thanks to its compelling line: “Greatness is just something we made up.” The video showcases an overweight boy running in the streets to shed weight. The narratives throughout the ad resonate with the audience.

This aligns perfectly with Nike’s brand tone, which encourages people to “just do it” no matter the obstacles they face, as they will find a way to overcome them.

Types of Voice Over

After learning about voice-over definition, let’s take a closer look at the types of voice-over that you can find around you:

1. Movies

Movie voice-over is one of the common types you can find today, from real-world stories like Fight Club to fictional characters from the Lord of the Rings, Gollum.

What does voice-over mean for those two films? First, the voice-over plays an essential role in narrating the story of the Fight Club. The main character is known as the Narrator in the movie, as a split personality of another character Tyler Durden. Without the voice acting, the movie will look different.

On the other hand, the voice actor for Gollum, Andy Serkis, manages to create a unique voice to portray the mystical character of a hobbit. This makes every encounter of the tiny small creature with the main character Frodo becomes more dramatic and spooky at the same time.

2. Anime

Not all movie needs voice acting to make it more entertaining, and it will work well. But you can’t make an animated movie or anime without the involvement of a voice actor. This is what makes the art of faceless performing swept over the world, from the Pixar Studio and Disney Company to TV Tokyo.

You might be unfamiliar with Junko Takeuchi. But, once you realize that she is the voice-over artist of Naruto, you’d be amazed. Yes, a strong male anime character has a unique voice from a woman.

3. Dubbing

The power of voice-over for anime has not stopped there. Voice acting facilitates the process of making anime or other video content accessible to a broader audience.

Dubbing is another common type of voice-over. Basically, it is a technique of recording new voices in replacement of the original voice to target audiences in different languages. This art of voice acting is not limited to anime but is also quite common in soap operas and many more.

However, as a post-release production, the creative process is relatively much easier. As it has the standard of the original version, the main task is to replicate the voices in the dubbed language.

This is why the voice actors portraying Naruto across different languages are all women, maintaining consistency throughout various translations.

4. Narration

As its name suggests, narration voice-over will guide us through certain documentaries, educational materials, and even amusement park rides. Think of the voice actors as invisible tour guides who lead us on a journey through the new software, educational videos, and tourist attraction.

David Attenborough’s soothing voice makes him one of the greatest voice actors in the world. He brings you closer to the wonders of nature on some BBC Earth channels.

Morgan Freeman is also the top leading narrator in the world for documentary films. He plays a great voice acting in many films, from The March of Penguins to BB King.

5. Commercial

Picture yourself watching TV or streaming on YouTube while a catchy ad pops up. You watch it until the end, as the narration convinces you it’s worth your attention. Let’s say Nike or McDonald‘s ads. That’s a commercial voiceover.

This is a type of voice-over that sells products or services using various platforms. And guess what? Voice-over is so compelling that more and more businesses include them in their promotion strategy.

It is effective for many campaigns, from car commercials to insurance ads and even fast food. The key is finding the perfect voice character to deliver the message.

For example, Julia Roberts is chosen to be the voice actor for some Nationwide commercials. As the insurance company, their ads should show trust to offer to the audience. In fact, some studies show that women’s voices are considered trustworthy due to higher pitch and better inflexion.

6. Video Games

Video games’ voice-over is a must to make it more engaging for their player. This is a type of voice-over that is getting more popular each day. This is true whether the voice acting is only for the narration to introduce the game or it becomes an integral part of the game.

The drive to create increasingly immersive experiences intensifies as the gaming industry expands. Mass Effect is an excellent example, but Cyberpunk 2077 showcases another compelling story.

This RPG game relies on exceptional voice acting to deliver a truly immersive experience. And Keanu Reeves, a major Hollywood star, successfully bring the character Johnny Silverhand to life through his outstanding voiceover work.

7. E-Learning

You can learn anything online now. But, if it’s just in the form of a slide deck, it will make you bored. And it happens not just to you but to all learners around the world. That is why a more interactive learning session on any platform has become a trend now.

Whether for a private company that uses learning platforms like Tovuti or Swift or online platforms like Duolingo to learn new languages, having a voice-over for their content is essential. Otherwise, the content will be less captivating.

Well, the list can go on and on as the world of voice-over itself is evolving. This can become an excellent opportunity for you who have such skills to provide awesome voice acting.

What You Need to Become a Voice Over

The data shows that the e-learning market is expected to grow by over $200 billion by 2024. As this is one of the industries that need voice actors’ talents, the demand will be rising.

But before you jump into the professional voice-over work, here are the things that you need to have:

1. Being an All-rounder

The old saying goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” This precisely depicts how a voice-over artist needs to be multi-talented.

As a professional, you need to ensure that you are capable of any roles. Not only from a protagonist to an antagonist in terms of movie characters but also from dubbing roles to commercials voice over.

For example, Peter Cullen is known for his voice-over as the Optimus Prime in Transformer movie. But he is also the voice behind the Predator. With this ability to adapt to the different roles well, it would be easier for you to be a top-notch voice actor who stands out from the crowd.

2. Master of Emotions

A good voice actor should be able to laugh, cry, sigh, and scream, depending on what the script demands. This will help make the character you represent more real and express the right emotion.

While this seems easy as it comes naturally to most people, not all talent can have a great emotional range like this. If you train yourself to express your emotion to work on a voice acting job, getting offers from many more roles will be much easier.

Tara Strong is one of the voice-over artists that can become your inspiration. She can play an innocent role as a baby in the Ice Age and act perfectly as Bubbles in the Powerpuff Girls. Those two movies demand different kinds of emotion to express, but she did it flawlessly.

3. Clarity in Pronunciation

Voiceover is about delivering the exact message to the audience, whether in a movie, a commercial, or even a public announcement.

That said, a good voice-over actor must have clear enunciation. This way, it will ensure that their words are easily understood by the audience, especially for commercials where not all audiences pay close attention to the content.

Morgan Freeman is one of the best examples of a voice-over actor with perfect pronunciation. His superb articulation makes his narration enjoyable yet conveys an accurate message. Visa commercials and Conan the Barbarian narration are among his successful works.

4. Great Consistency

What if a company appoints you as their long-term talent for all of their commercials, but it turns out that your voice changes over time? You may lose your contract, right?

Consistency is vital to become a good voice actor or artist. Whether you are working on a single project or a long-running series, make sure you can maintain a consistent voice and performance. This will give the audience an immersive experience along the series or projects you are involved with.

For example, Nancy Cartwright has been the voice actor for Bart Simpson for over 30 years. And still, you will hear that her vocal quality remains the same and make the character everlasting.

While you need to be versatile at the same time, being consistent with the quality of your voice will make you among the most well-known voice actors in the world.

What is Voice Over: Final Thoughts

Voice-over is a voice in movies, games, commercials, and documentaries performed by a professional voice actor to enhance the quality of such content.

What does voice-over mean for those content? It will make the content more engaging, informative, and also accessible to reach wider audiences. Also, voice-over has proven to be a great medium of persuasion which might lead to better conversion for businesses who use it in their ad campaigns.

As the demand for voice actors rises high, it is important to ensure that a voice-over artist has certain characteristics which will result in great voice acting quality. Not only do you need to be consistent and have a clear pronunciation, but you also need a great range of emotion to perform as it is scripted.

That’s all for now! Keep practicing and exploring your skills to be the next talented voice over artist who can captivate, educate, and inspire the world with your awesome works.


What is a voice-over?

A voice-over is the recorded voice either in the form of narration or dialogue to make the content more engaging and informative as intended. Voice-over is performed by voice actors for movies, commercials, video games, animations, and even documentaries.

What are the different types of voiceovers?

There are many types of voiceovers. Some common types include commercials, movie voice-over, dubbing, e-learning instructions, transportation announcements, and so forth. With those different forms, each type serves a specific purpose.

What are voice-overs used for?

Voice-over is a part of content production that can be used in commercials, movies, anime, video games, e-learning, and many more. That said, voice-over is versatile; it is beneficial to narrate a story, provide information, give instructions, or build immersive game experiences.

Can you do voice-over with no experience?

The more experience you have, the more offer you will get as a voice offer. But it is not mandatory. You can start a voice-over career with no experience at all. However, it is important to keep developing your skills and add your portfolios as a professional.

How do I get into voice-over work?

There are many options to get started as a voice-over artist. You can build your reputation as a great voice actor by making content, or you can join certain agencies looking for content creators for voice acting. One of the tips for beginners is don’t hesitate to build a network within the industry to find potential job opportunities.

Does a voice-over get paid?

Yes, you can get paid as a voice-over artist. How much you will get will depend on the scale of the project and your reputation as a professional. Voice-over rates can range from a few hundred dollars to thousand dollars. To give a perspective, Morgan Freeman as a famous actor, can earn up to 10 million dollars per voice-over project.


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