This blog post is a fun but practical look at animal voice over videos. We’ll look what animal voiceover is, some iconic animal voiceover work, and we’ll discuss some of the best ways of capturing animals’ voices. This blog post is relevant to aspiring voiceover artists and to anyone making videos who requires professional animal voiceover (such as film or advertising producers). If you’re interested in hiring Guy for his animal voiceover prowess, please feel free to get in touch. Guy is happy to read a sample of your script for you, so that you can decide whether or not his voice is right for your film/brand.
An animal voice over video is any video featuring animals where voiceover actors provide the voices of the animals. These videos can be live action — filming live animals and dubbing the voiceover work over the top, or they can be animated (cartoon, CGI, stop animation, etc.). Animal characters are especially popular with children, and this is something Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli, etc. have all tapped into.
It is really helpful, in any discussion of animal voiceover, to look at some of the best iconic examples. Any attempt to mention the best animal voice-over work is subjective, so we’ll just mention a few of the most famous characters and the voiceover actors responsible. The Lion King’s Mufasa was voiced by James Earl Jones (also the voice of Darth Vader) and his rich, regal voice was a fan favourite for Simba’s father and the King of the Savanna. In fact, Jones did such a brilliant job that he has been recast as Mufasa in the new live-action production of The Lion King.
Donald Duck’s raspy voice is as iconic as voiceover work gets. It works because although he’s speaking English, his voice still quacks and clearly resembles the sounds ducks make. The original voiceover actor responsible for Donald Duck was Clarence Nash, who spent his childhood imitating the noises made by birds and farmyard animals. It’s difficult to imagine a world without Donald Duck’s unique voice, but it’s safe to assume that we’d have had a very different Donald Duck without Clarence Nash’s excellent voiceover work! Scooby-Doo is another iconic character with a very recognisable voice. This mystery-solving Great Dane is famous for being the clumsiest, most cowardly member of his investigative team and his voice sounds as though someone actually taught a dog how to talk in the real world. A big part of what works about Scooby-Doo’s voice is similar to what works with Donald Duck’s: he speaks English words (kind of), but he sounds like a dog! We wouldn’t have Scooby-Doo’s iconic voice if it wasn’t for Don Messick, the legendary voice actor who was also responsible for Droopy, Muttley, and Papa Smurf!
We could spend ours writing about the various classic cartoon animal characters and the voiceover actors behind them, but it might also help to look at a more recent animal character. Puss in Boots from the Shrek series was an immediate hit with fans. Even though he doesn’t sound like a cat, per se, there was something about Antonio Banderas’s dulcet Spanish voice that seems to ring true with the character.
There are countless different ways to capture an animal’s. However, we can split up the approach into roughly two different camps: (A) make your voiceover sound like the animal (as with Donald Duck and Scooby-Doo), or (B) make your voice suit the humanised version of the animal you’re providing voiceover work for (as with Mufasa’s regal tones and Puss in Boot’s feisty Spanish accent). Both approaches work and they aren’t really in opposition to each other – they just work in different contexts. When you’re taking approach (A), the best thing you can do is listen to recordings of the animal you’ve been asked to provide voiceover for. Do impressions of their noises and see if you can incorporate these noises into your voiceover. One piece of advice is to avoid sacrificing too much clarity and diction when performing your animal voice; it’s important to sound like the animal, but it’s more important for the audience to be able understand you — especially if you’re providing voiceover work for an advertisement!
When you’re taking approach (B), it may help to make a list of the different characteristics you associate with the animal, humanizing the animal as much as possible. When you have a list of characteristics, you can start to imagine what kind of person the animal might sound like. Tip: it may help to imagine what job your animal character would have if it were a person, or what socio-political background it might come from. The fastest route to your animal character’s voice may be to do an accent from the part of the world this animal is from. For instance, it’s an obvious choice to do a friendly Australian accent if you’re asked to provide voiceover for a kangaroo character!
We hope this animal voiceover guide has been interesting and informative. If you’re an aspiring voiceover artist and you need a little inspiration, make sure you take a look Guy’s character voiceover reel. And if you’d like Guy to provide animal voiceover for your upcoming production, please get in touch.