Have you ever watched an animated show or movie and the casting for a character just felt off and made it difficult to immerse yourself in the narrative? The wrong voice can be jarring, and throws us out of the experience. This can be true for anything ranging from commercials to educational videos to cartoons. We talked before about things like accents, tone, and vocal age, but this goes beyond just that. So now we'll get into a little more about what to consider when casting talent for roles, and what might make one voice a better fit than another.
Let's use a hypothetical, and say we're an escape room company that's putting together a horror-themed adventure. We need to cast talent to be several characters in the scenario, and included among them are two very key roles: a warm and friendly male voice, and a dark and gravely male voice. These two are key because we need to make the players think the gravely voice is the villain who trapped them there, but in truth it was the friendly voice all along.
So what do we need to look for when casting these voices? The tone is something the actor can adjust accordingly, so that's not the main thing we need to focus on when listening to demos. Vocal age is one consideration, definitely, but so is something like timbre. The timbre refers more to the quality and feel of a voice. It's originally a musical term, and is used to describe why two instruments may play the same pitch but have very different sounds. Similarly, two different voice actors can try to voice the dark, gravely character and use the same tone and yet the delivery may feel more authentic with one voice than another. Not everyone can pull off that kind of voice and character believably, simply because their vocal cords—their instruments—are not capable of that particular timbre. When you want something with a smooth, rich sound like a cello, you do not use a ukulele.
On the flip side, we wouldn't want to cast someone whose timbre leans towards gruff to be the warm and friendly voice. Nor would we want someone who naturally has a very radio announcer quality to their speaking voice. We all have our own natural timbres and even our own cadences to how we speak. These are what need to be carefully considered when casting talent. How does the character speak? What are important elements to how the character talks which need to be present in the talent's delivery? And “character” can refer to a literal character like in our hypothetical about an escape room, but it can also refer to the narrator of a tutorial or to the voices used in language learning programs. A tutorial for something directed at college students will require a very different narrator character than one directed towards bankers.
The benefit of using a company like FlyVoiceovers to find talent is that we have a curated pool of professional talent from around the world that you can search through using keywords to help find the exact type of voice you need. You can also contact us directly for recommendations, explaining in detail the vision you have for your project, and we can suggest the talent we think would fit best. This means you won't have to search through a vast sea of ukuleles to find your desired cello.