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One of the biggest questions many content creators have is, “what is the difference between a voice-over and a narration?” Many people also feel they are the same, and technically, they wouldn’t be wrong. If you are getting into the world of voice-overs, or if you are looking for voice-over talent but aren’t sure what to use for your next project, this article will take a look at the key differences between voice-overs and narration, which will help you to understand better what you need for your next project.
What is a Voice-Over?
The best place to start when trying to understand the difference between voice-overs and narration would be to understand what a professional voice-over is. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, which is understandable since they are similar. However, it gets more complicated since these days’ narration is a category of voice-over, along with the many other types, such as:
- Audio book voice-overs
- Corporate voice-overs
- Animation voice-overs
- Video game voice-overs
There are many more categories, and many online voice-over agencies offer these voice-over services, such as Voquent. However, it wasn’t always this way, which is where the confusion stems from. Voice-overs were primarily used for movie trailers, with someone who had a deep, commanding voice to highlight the upcoming film’s selling points. The most significant difference between this type of voice-over and narration is that the person speaking is not part of the story.
What is Narration?
Now that you better understand voice-overs, you might think they still sound similar to narrations. Well, as mentioned above, the main difference between the two is that the off-screen voice is usually not part of the actual story, whereas the narrator usually is. More importantly, a narrator actually serves a different purpose.
Where a voice-over would give the key selling points to an upcoming movie, for example, a narrator would help to progress the plot, provide further contextual information about the characters or the environment, or even explain the feelings and actions of the characters. You might say the narrator helps to bring understanding to an audience where actions and dialogues within the content can’t.
When Should You Use Voice-Overs?
It makes sense why many people use the two terms interchangeably, so for argument’s sake, we could assume that “voice-over” is a term that encompasses many forms of using the voice for different purposes. Having said that, you might be wondering, “when should I use a voice-over?”.
The answer is that it depends on what type of content you are creating and your primary goal. For example, if you were making an advertisement, you could use a voice-over to explain the characters’ actions within the advertisement. You could also use a voice-over as the internal thoughts of one of the characters within the advertisement. However, you should try to use a voice-over when the information being given within a video might confuse an audience or if you need to elaborate on something shown in the video. Where visuals can provide clues, a voice-over can successfully deliver specific information – so, what do you want to tell your audience?