How important is it today to have a human voice speak in a TV advertisement over a digital age one? For the man who gave legs to AOL’s memorable, “You’ve Got Mail,” in Elwood Edwards, it was a big deal even though “people don’t recognize my voice on the street,” according to a New York Daily News article about the voice heard around the Internet in the mid 1990s.
The same could be said about the late John Facenda, the “Voice of God” for the NFL Films for decades. So has the Digital Age changed the business of voiceover? In some areas, such as robotics and telecommunications, digital is king. But not in TV advertising or Hollywood animation, where the human voice still rules. People can tell the difference. It’s more than context. The human voice is unique, knows when to move inflection points — when to pull at emotions, when to simply deliver a clean message. To find out more about the nuances of and challenges to the business of voiceover today, I sat down with voiceover “queen,” an actor, teacher, and author, Joan Baker.
Inspiration for Voiceover Acting
In meeting Joan Baker at a midtown restaurant, I was taken aback that the voice behind many brands on TV had the perfect gait and posture of an in-front-of-the-camera actress. Add that with a sound that has range and perfect pitch unmic’d, a look that belies her age by a decade, and Joan Baker has served her high profile clients well. They include ABC News, Bloomberg TV, CNN, American Express, Sony Music, premium cable networks, and major brands.
“I was inspired to do voiceover acting as a way to get around the rejection I kept hearing from casting agents who felt my ‘look’ wasn’t ethnically specific,” she said with a glint in her eye that showed determination. “You see, I’m of mixed race, black and white. Advertisers go for highly targeted messaging and ‘mixed race’ wasn’t one of them.”
Read the full report The Importance of Voiceover in the Digital Age