Professional Voice Actor. Don't Try This at the Office.
Disclaimer: This is a rant.
More and more my industry is becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of media production. I have never heard of the Association for Talent Development, but they appeared on my radar today after a couple of their members wrote a hit piece on the voice over industry, specifically voice talent. Their headline "Use In-House Staff as Voice-Over Talent" caught the attention of a respected peer, who blogged about the article, which sent me into a tailspin of eye rolling anger and frustration.
Look, I get it. Everybody wants something for nothing. So why not use Alice or Andy in Human Resources to voice that training video? After all, the voice over is always the LAST thing you should be concerned with, right? (eyeroll). Usually by that time, the budget has dried up, thanks to the developer's misplaced affinity for HD graphics and videos because they think that's what gets the message across. Really, who cares about the quality of the spoken word? "We'll let the graphics do the talking and save hundreds of dollars!"
Yes, the organization is called "Association for TALENT DEVELOPMENT." Their mission, if we choose to accept it, is to help companies develop in-house talent. But after reading this article, I am pretty sure they mean "get the most out of your employees by using them to do things they don't know how to do, and oh yeah, don't pay them for it because they are on the clock anyway!"
Go ahead, bypass the actual professionals who have literally spent their entire lives as voice talent, and grab somebody from the cafeteria to voice a 30 minute video on financial ethics. It doesn't matter if they record in an echo chamber. It doesn't even matter that they don't know how to breathe when they read out loud. Just take those breaths wherever you feel like it, it will sound natural! Oh yeah, nobody will care (especially the ESL audience) that you mumble your words, or that you don't know how to tell a story or how to convey the meaning of the words and phrases on the paper, just read the words. They will figure it out! While I'm ranting, hey VISA, just save yourself all that cash you pay Morgan Freeman and have Duke from accounting do the voice over for your next commercial! It'll be real and genuine! If I were a CEO of a company and I heard an amateur voice as the centerpiece on a corporate branding video we spent thousands of dollars creating, I can tell you heads would roll.
If all you want to do is save money, this is a good way to do it. But if you want the hard work you put into the message you are trying to sell to actually make an impact, then find the right voice talent to tell your story. You can't have it both ways. Here's another nugget of truth: You can't teach amazing voice over. It is a natural talent. If you have someone in your office who is a natural at creating engaging voice over, then by all means develop that talent! Otherwise, hire a professional. By the way, I can cut and paste pictures into PowerPoint with the best of them, so feel free to contact me to help out with your next Adobe Illustrator project. Wink.