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  • Marilena Gant

The ABCs of Voice Acting


As a self confessed book worm, I love discovering new words (although usually it's a case of in one ear and out the other!). However, there is nothing more terrifying than finding yourself in a situation and having no clue what everyone is rabbiting on about. Whether you are new to VO or are just want to learn a little more about the world of Voice Acting, here is a glossary of the key words and phrases you might come across.


ABC – Three takes of each line which are read in a row with variations each time. Read – This means your literal ‘read’ or performance of a script

Cold Read – Your performance of a script the first time you see it. You are reading the script ‘cold’ without having had a chance to rehearse or warm up to it. Copy – Another word for script Level/Levels – When you begin a session the engineer will often ask you to read the script through to check your ‘levels’ and make any audio adjustments needed to the microphone and equipment before you begin the session. Cans – Headphones Slate – A brief introduction at the beginning of your audition, usually just stating your name and sometimes your agent/the character you are playing. This is being requested less and less in VO auditions that I see.

Tag – The final line of an ad where a company reminds you who they are. These are also sometimes called bumpers. You’ll know it when you hear it – think ‘EA sports, it’s in the game’ Spot – Another word for Commercial or Advert Plosive – The popping sound that’s made when you say ‘p’ and also ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘t’, ‘g’ Sibilance – The harsh sound that’s made when reading words with an ‘s’ sound, some people have more sibilant voices that others. Wild - This refers to audio which is unsynchronised and recorded without syncing to a pre-recorded video or music To Picture – You are recording audio to match and sync up with a video To Music ­- When you record your voiceover whilst listening and syncing to the music bed – a favourite of mine! ADR – This stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement and is when an actor records lines to sync up to an on screen performance, oftentimes dubbing over their own performance, if the original audio can’t be used. Loop Group – A group of Actors who are called into a studio together to record the all of the other conversations and background chatter for movies, video games and other projects Dub or Dubbing – When projects such as Movies, Animations and Video Games are translated into a different language (think Pokémon or Squid Game), Actors will be required to ‘dub’ or record over the original language and give a performance in their own language. One of my favourite types of projects to work on! Exerts/Efforts/Non-Verbals – Often seen in Video Game and Animation scripts. The noises your character makes when they are moving, completing an action or expressing themselves without words - think grunts, groans, sighs and screams that all help to tell the story.

Music Bed – The music which will lie underneath the Voiceover you are providing. Pickup – Lines or phrases that need to be re-recorded, either due to an error or a script change, after the recording session. Raw Audio – Recorded audio without any editing, tweaking or post-production Union – When working with US agents or clients you’ll often be asked if you are a ‘Union’ or Non-Union’ Actor, meaning are you a member of Sag-Aftra acting union or not. In the UK we also have a brilliant acting Union called Equity