How to Cast Voiceover Actors

January 30, 2024

You hear them everywhere. On trains, in airports…in your own earbuds. And now you need one for your video project. Yep, we’re talking about voiceover actors. And with 41% of creative producers anticipating increasing their VO budget in 2024, it’s time to make the casting process seamless. So, where to start? And how to find the right one for your video? We’re here to help on how to cast voiceover actors.

Casting Process

First things first, when it comes to casting. Get specific.

Meaning, decide what it is you’re looking for, then define it. In regards to voiceover listings (or VO, as we’ll now refer to it), here are some characteristics you’ll want to include:

  • Gender
  • Type of role (spokesperson, CEO, child playing in a sandbox, concerned Mom, etc.)
  • Age range
  • Ethnicity (unless flexible on this point)
  • Language
  • Vocal Characteristics (i.e. raspy, warm, folksy, etc.)
  • Accent (native, second language, and/or degree of accent such as light Southern accent)

Then you’ll want to provide the audition script. Traditionally, this exceeds no more than a few lines, but, depending on your needs, could be longer. If it will be a lengthier final script, your best choice would be to include a line from the beginning and middle, so as to showcase tone shifts effectively. Also, indicate how many “takes” you’d like submitted, and the differences between each.

Include rate, usage, and general contractual terms (including project type, length, and where it will be used). (Once you’ve hired your VO actor, you can discuss more in detail.) What date does it need to be delivered by? And will it be live-directed via Zoom, Source Connect Standard, or otherwise?

More on this in the next section.

What to Look for in a Solid VO Actor

From a logistical standpoint, the studio in which a VO actor records is pivotal in your casting selection. Most casting notices post-pandemic require an at-home studio, with a pro setup. Do they have one of those? Or, at least, access to one?

Of course, you’ll want to verify their set up is adequate and professional for yourself. One way to do this is by requesting an extra 5 seconds of silence (also known as “room tone”) at the end of their audition submission. In this, listen for any background noise, or overall distractions that might detract from the recording quality.

Next comes their performance. Listen to their tone of voice, and hear if it matches what you had in your head. Do they sound natural? Believable? Do they have the ability to adjust and take direction quickly? Capable of accents (or of turning theirs off)? Here are two examples, highlighting “pro” sound and delivery:

Finally, do they have reels? A solid resume? If so, who did they work with, and are THEY a credible source? Do some homework here, as it will save you time and money in the long-run.

Where to Find VO Talent

If you’re lucky, you’ll already have a curated list of tried-and-true VO artists your company has worked with in the past. But, have no fear, there are plenty of options when it comes to starting from scratch. A few top places to begin are:

  1. Voiceover.biz: every VO talent here has been vetted by working professional VO artists. There is no fee, and you can directly contact any talent of interest. Great for quick and reliable turnaround.
  2. Sound & Fury and VO Chateaux: these two are wonderful if you’d rather someone else handle the casting process for you. They will handle the vetting process, and provide you a shortlist of qualified candidates, saving you time and hassle.
  3. Voice123: this one has a wide array of talent, but no vetting process beforehand. So, be prepared to shuffle through some pro and not-so-pro artists if you take this route. Plus is it’s free and, again, a wide variety.

Over time, curate your own list of VO individuals you’d like to collaborate with again. Don’t be afraid to ask them for VO referrals, if they don’t fit your immediate needs. Most artists will gladly help where they can, as this establishes a healthy and long-term relationship between the two of you.

Once You’ve Booked VO Talent

Hurrah! You’ve found and booked your VO talent! Now what?

First step: reiterate and clearly define contractual agreement (including AI agreement, as outlined here).

Again, know beforehand what exactly you are looking for when it comes to tone and delivery. Or, if you have flexibility with that, communicate that to your VO talent, so they know they can “play” with it a little, to discover the best end result together.

Next up is delivery. Where do you want the files to be delivered? Do you want raw audio (no altering the quality of the audio) or processed (could include EQ, compression, or any other dynamic altering)?

Be clear with your revisions and pick-up policies as well as if there is an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). If possible, offer the final product to be used for your VO talent’s own website or socials, as this helps their portfolio (as well as gives you extra exposure).

As with any working relationship, good communication is key. If you incorporate this, along with the above steps, you (and your VO actor) should have a fantastic and easy experience capturing the very best for your video project.

*This article could not have been written without the great insights from our co-author this week, VO actor Brandon Miller. For more on him and his work, visit www.brandonmillervoiceover.com.