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The Voiceover Illusion of Perfect
I slipped today.
I went for a jog outside at +1°C (33.8°F).
The floor was partly frozen, partly muddy.
Then a turn to the right with semi-liquid soil and I touched the ground. 1
Which made me think.
As a kid, I had the idea that I can be untouched, “I’m Captain Planet” 2 or Hercules.
Watching animated television series with super heroes 3 made me think like I’m one of them.
Watching Jean-Claude van Damme kick-boxing made me buy a punching bag at age 9 or so.
Watching Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo 4 convinced me that I’m a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle and probably, later on fall in love with turtles 🐢 as an object of calm and peace, which Finding Nemo contributed to.
I built up an ideal of being unharmed because I have super powers.
But then life happened. 5
First major fail at age 12: my parents never allowed me to join a soccer club. 6
First major breakup at age 20 or so.
First major achievement when I received a monetary bonus for my exceptional grades during my training as a salesman.
First real severe injury at 28: a cruciate ligament rupture in my right knee playing soccer.
First time out of the education system at age 29 with a Master’s degree in International Media & Computing (computer science), after 23 years “in school”. I’m definitely overeducated.
Losing the love of my life at age 39. 7
I still like the idea that I can live an unharmed life:
- no drama in relationships
- only drama on demand
- no aging skin (wrinkles are cool, btw)
- always a six-pack
- happy laughter
- success with no price and effort
- smoothly flowing around in life like an eel
- no demons in my head
And then you have voiceover, which is my full-time profession.
If I had lived a life in isolation, fully unharmed by the outside world, which is arguably not a life worth living, my voice-acting would suck because it would be soulless like an A.I. voice from the can.
The imperfection needs to be reflected in voiceover, if, yes if you want to touch a human heart. If your goal is to only please Lord Client, however, with no backbone to challenge their thinking on what it means to deliver conversational-human voiceover, it’s time grow some guns so you can stick to them.
The illusion of perfection in voiceover is that you can deliver a recording that is as slippery as an eel, and that’s why the rise of A.I. is so appealing to private companies. They think the smooth voice is what will convince the crowd, but they don’t see that the hyper-clean will haunt them like a Hydra and a counter movement will emerge to demand the imperfect: podcasting does that well to the degree where you have a Jordan B. Petersons who sounds like Kermit the Frog, as opposed to the close to perfect speech of a Sean Wesley McCabe (seanwes.com). 8
Say the words in a way that people can understand, otherwise we’d all need subtitles. 9
Apply the right tone so that it’s clear what the words mean.
Use words that people know without consulting a dictionary.
These are three things to check off in your voiceover delivery.
And then you add your personality and character and edge and stance. And that’s when aiming for perfection and ultimate cleanliness will break your neck, and imperfection will heal your neck pain again.
Imperfection is authentic. That’s why imperfect voiceover is great.
If you’re in need of my services, please fill out my contact form, to ensure a successful outcome based on my creative process.
In the 4-step form, I’m going to ask for:
- 🇺🇸🇩🇪 language: German or English
- 👩❤️👨 voice gender and age
- 👨💼 additional services (if needed): copywriting, translation, ready-for-audience (edited + finished) voiceover delivery
Additional details + Script
- 🐥 project name
- 📜 project description
- 📝 script
- 🔢 script length (words)
- 📢 broadcast audience size
- 🌏 usage of recording
- 🚚 turnaround time
- Money matters
- 💰 budget
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i grunted shortly, huffing and puffing, and continued running; my black adidas pants dirty in the knee area, of course ↩︎
i grew up under 90s television ↩︎
But superheroes are also untouchable and somewhat not relatable, because they need to be a fortress. But that’s another topic for another day, but relevant one because voice-acting without bonding is a shout into the voice instead of reverberating and stimulating spark of intellectual and emotional exchange of energy. ↩︎
Michelangelo was my favorite turtle because of his nunchakus ↩︎
when you start living life you start to fail and maybe learn from them: I failed 15+ times in business and life (yet no reason to be depressed) ↩︎
Until this day, this is still my biggest regret by far, and I have hard time forgiving them. ↩︎
i’ll tell you what happened in the 10 years between 29 and 39 at some point but not now ↩︎
Sean McCabe is the founder and CEO of seanwes media, and Daily Content Machine. But some time around mid-2022 he disappeared from the web, and so did his website. ↩︎
Vox points out why we all need subtitles now. They explain that
“its not you — the dialogue in TV and movies has gotten harder to hear. Have you ever been watching a show or movie, and then a character delivers a line so unintelligible you have to scramble to find the remote and rewind? For me, this moment came during the climax of the Pete Davidson film ‘The King of Staten Island,’ where his most important line was impossible to understand. I had to rewind three times — and eventually put subtitles on — to finally pick up what he was saying. This experience isn’t unique — gather enough people together and you can generally separate them into two categories: People who use subtitles, and people who don’t. And according to a not-so-scientific YouTube poll we ran on our Community tab, the latter category is an endangered species — 57% of you said you always use subtitles, while just 12% of you said you generally don’t. But why do so many of us feel that we need subtitles to understand the dialogue in the things we watch? The answer to that question is complex – and we get straight to the bottom of it in this explainer, with the help of dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick.”↩︎