What is Voice-over? The Best Explanation
voice over meaning

What is Voice-over? The Best Explanation

Voice-over or voice acting has, over the years, transited through many phases and it is becoming increasingly difficult to define it exactly.

The truth is, most practicing voice actors cannot give a perfect definition for voiceover or voice acting, and we can’t either. In fact, nobody can.

However, this post will explain what voice-over and voice-acting are and expose you to which fields utilize voice-overs.

Think about the narrator in a theatrical performance, you do not see their face, but their voice passes critical information that helps you understand the plot better. That is basically voice acting and most likely the humble beginning.

While Walt Disney is widely credited with creating the first voice over for Mickey Mouse in “steamboat Willie” 1928, it has been proven that voice acting was invented some 28 years earlier in 1900.


 The first voice-over was recorded by Reginald Fessenden while he worked for the United States Weather Bureau.

Well, if you’re reading this post, you can guess what happened from there.

As communications grew, so did the need for voice-overs, first, it became a necessity for radio, then television, animated videos, movies, documentaries, and most recently, podcasts and audiobooks.

The actors behind voice-overs, until quite recently, were rarely known by the public. However, social media and other forms of communications have opened the public’s eyes to the possibilities in voice-acting, and a host of prominent voice-actors, most of whom are also regular actors, have now been known.

Although these fields are not the same, most producers of animated movies would prefer to cast popular actors to voice their characters because it is more beneficial to their sales.

The explanations so far may seem a little confusing because a very wide range of things including voice-over films, dubbed foreign voice over language films, voice acting for animation shorts or films, TV programs and commercials, radio or audio dramas, video games, audiobooks, live events, documentaries, a phone message and IVR, promos, trailers, and much more, can be considered as voice-overs.

I have however grouped this into four categories to help you understand.

  • Voice-Actors: are commonly heard in animations, foreign dub movies, TV cartoons, ADR, puppet shows, and radio dramas.
  • Narrators: this class of voice actors mostly specializes in documentaries, audiobooks, educational videos, explainer videos, and sometimes as audio tour guides.
  • Announcers: are mostly heard introducing television and radio shows, award ceremonies, talk shows, continuity, and sports events.
  • Voice-over Artist: are the people who can easily switch between these categories.

Now that you are sure, if you are planning to pursue a career in voice-acting, watch this space for further guidance.

However, if you are already an established voice-actor or a budding voice talent, ivoiceafrica.com is building a community of African voices. Please follow and send a direct message to us on Twitter and Instagram to be part. You should also join our Facebook Group for an opportunity to connect and share your issues and successes with other African voices.



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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Peridot

    This is amazing and quite awakening for me. I stopped pursuing my career in broadcasting months back… But I think I am ready to pick it up again.

    Let’s give life to imaginations and fantasies….

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