How to choose a voice actor for animations

Here is a detailed step-by-step guide that we’ve created to give you a better understanding of how to choose a voice actor.

How to choose a voice actor for animations

The animation industry is as large as it is popular.

Not only does the animation industry include colossal blockbuster films, but it also includes everything from your independent YouTube animators to mid-range professional animation studios. And it is no small industry either.

According to Statista, the global animation market was worth 259 billion U.S. dollars. As per the last report by Statista, this figure was expected to grow to 270 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. However, if Business Wire's statistics are correct, then the market is getting close to this projection, with 2019's report publishing a total market value of 264 billion U.S. dollars.

The takeaway is that the market is vast and growing. 

Brands, big and small, can use the popularity of animation to promote their message creatively. But to convey this message, one crucial component cannot be overlooked; the voice acting.

A good voice actor can make and break an animation video.

What do I need to consider in a voice?

When choosing a voice, besides selecting a voice that sounds appealing to you, there are some factors to keep in mind. These factors are specifically helpful if you don't really know what you are looking for initially. Some good starting points:

  • Language
  • Accent
  • Gender of the voice
  • Pacing
  • Genre (content genre)
  • Vocal Tone
  • Vocal Pitch

What is most important to consider?

This is a very subjective question to answer as the answer lies in your content's purpose. However, the fundamental aspect that cannot be ignored is the language of the voice acting.

For most animations, English will be the primary language, but this isn't always the case. Multinational companies that operate internationally may, for example, need various dubs of their promotional content for different markets. Establishing what languages you will need is the first step, and then if multiple are required, which translations are needed.

If English is your primary language, the fundamental aspect to consider after language is accent.

Accent gives your video a regional flare. This can be beneficial or detrimental to your message. For instance, if your animation explains Australian history, it won't make sense to cast a voice actor with a Brooklyn accent variation of American English. Instead, an Australian accent using Australian English will undoubtedly be better suited.

What if I don't know what I want?

Many people approach a voice actor agency without knowing what they want in a voice actor. For those people or companies, it is an exploratory process. Voquent, the company I work for, can help recommend voice actors, but it isn't a simple decision to make even then.

If you know the language and the accent, those are two solid places to start. Gender is next in line to help you make such a crucial decision. Do you want a male voice, a female voice, or a non-binary voice?

Gender is intrinsically entwined with the purpose of your content, or what we call 'genre' or 'content genre' in the voice acting industry. Is your animation designed to sell men's or women's fashion? Or maybe you want to raise awareness about a gender-related issue, and a non-binary voice would be best?

Some demographics may respond well to a specific gender, which is true across the board regarding consumer content.

Before thinking about more granular voice acting traits, think about your content, its genre, and how gender can impact your message.

What about distinct vocal traits? How do they factor in?

The further down the auditory rabbit hole we go, the more granular your options and choices will need to be. This isn't always necessary for every video out there, but being specific can immensely help get that perfect voice actor. Vocal traits that can narrow your search down even further are traits like vocal pitch, vocal tone, and pacing.

Vocal pitch and pacing are, like gender, primarily linked to the content genre of your animation. An e-learning video will likely necessitate a neutral, typical pitch with steady pacing. This is to help the watcher digest the information. On the other hand, a fictional animation may require varying pitch and pacing, as this is normal in everyday conversation.

The last primary aspect to consider for more precise vocal traits is vocal tone.

The vocal tone for videos, especially animation, is about the emotion of the content. The voice actor, when considering tone, will need to match their tone to the video. When looking to select the tone, you should ask yourself about what emotions you want to convey with your content. 

Different animations require different tones. A comedic infomercial may want a comedic, friendly manner. An activism video may wish to use a formal, confident tone. Knowing this can make or break the auditory segment of your final product.

In Summary

For some, finding a voice actor for animation is straightforward. They may need a particular accent and gender.

For others, they may need a more specific style of voice for their animation. For those that need more detail, knowing what to look for is potentially more vital than knowing where to look.

Knowing what you need will enable you to choose a voice actor or a voice agency that can provide precisely what you need.

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