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Techniques to using voice-over creative devices

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Techniques to using voice-over creative devices

Innovations in sound have made great contributions through the years in almost every entertainment medium. Whether it’s been in TV, news broadcasting, radio or the movie industry, voice-over creative device techniques have contributed equally in conjunction with visual techniques to greatly improve the audience’s overall experience. These innovations have come in the form of both technology and methodology, which is the way these techniques are used.

The History of Voice-over Techniques

Long before the world was ready to embrace visual entertainment, they spent hours listening to the radio. Voice-overs were commonly used as a bridge to break away and returns from commercials. As sound moved to the big screen, voice-overs were used primarily as narration to help movie goers stay up with the storyline. Eventually, voice-overs found a natural partner with animation as famous characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck were given a voice, bringing them to life in the minds of cartoon fans. Today, voice-over techniques are still used in movies, animated shows and on radio as well as in video advertising.

Techniques for Using Voice-over Devices

In its most natural setting, voice-over devices are used to convey information about the story, a character or an event that might not be obvious to the audience. The most prominent techniques currently used for voice-over creative devices are:

Enhancing the Story (Creative Device) – There are times when a movie maker or storyteller might choose to avoid presenting the story in a straight line. When there is a need to revisit the past or jump ahead to the future, voice-over narrations have proven to be an effective tool for taking audiences where they need to go. In the movie Goodfellas (1990), the film’s primary character Henry Hill is able to take the audience on a whirlwind tour of relevant scenes by using a voice-over that explains what’s happening and why. Without this technique, the audience would have been lost as the film moved from one scene to another in rapid succession.

Character Development (Character Device) – Voice-overs are a great way to bring characters to life. While these techniques can be used in feature films, they have truly earned a place in movie history by bringing animated characters to life. Mel Blanc worked for years with Warner Brother Studios to give a voice to characters like Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat and Porky Pig. Dare anyone try to imagine those characters without those amazing and memorable voice-overs.

Explaining the Details (Educational Device) – When news is happening, the audio portion doesn’t always tell the viewer what’s newsworthy about the story. That responsibility falls on the new reporter who provides a voice-over to explain the basics, who, what, when, where, why and how. The viewer is able to receive this information while watching the news-making event on the screen, helping everything to make sense.

While voice-overs are also employed using other techniques such as translation, the three devices mentioned above have endured the test of time and remain in use today. Audiences have become indoctrinated in these techniques to the point of not noticing when voice-overs are being used. It’s when these techniques become seamless that they work the way they were intended.


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