By Stephanie Ciccarelli
September 17, 2008
This is one of the classic truths that plagues narrators and voice actors.
How many of you have watched a documentary with minimal participation from an on-camera presenter but a gargantuan amount of voice over from a narrator whose name isn't even credited on the DVD literature?
What about watching a movie with a great opening narration that goes unacknowledged even at the end?
This isn't news for many of you who narrate, however, I feel that narrators should be given more credit.
What do you think?
Last night I watched a DVD borrowed from our local library called Engineering An Empire (2006) that was broadcast by The History Channel, featuring a presenter named Peter Weller who was credited on the DVD literature and then some. If you waited until the end of the episodes, there was also mention of a narrator named Michael Carroll whose narration was omnipresent throughout the 12 episode series.
Although Carroll's narration was prominent and served as the driving force behind the storytelling, I couldn't help but notice that his billing wasn't nearly as high up on the list or DVD literature as it could have been.
Perhaps I'm part of the minority when saying this (correct me if I'm wrong), but I think narrators make a world of difference in documentaries and should be billed accordingly.
It reminds me of another great voice who wasn't credited for his opening narration of The Scorpion King, J.D. Hall. Albeit a comparatively brief part at the beginning of the film, his narration still set the stage for what was to come and should have been credited (but for the record was not), just as his voice overs also went unacknowledged as the grunting, growling and groaning voice of The Incredible Hulk (2008).
This article has focused mainly on narration for documentary and film, however, as you know, voice over is nearly always invisible regardless of the medium or application and voice actors nearly always go uncredited.
Until the late Don LaFontaine performed on-camera in the GEICO commercial ( "In A World Where Both Of Our Cars Were Totally Under Water..." ), his face couldn't have been further from his voice if the average person were to see him walking down the street, but because the world could see him in his element through the TV commercial parody, his face became known and he wasn't just that familiar voice at the movies or the announcer guy, he was a man with a sense of humor and a presence in the industry considered to be larger than life.
Don opened many doors for his peers (including the whole concept of working from home), and perhaps, greater recognition will be another aspect of his ongoing legacy to the voice over industry.
Now, here's a fine example of two industries where voice over talent and narrators are represented with equality.
At the end of every cartoon and animated film credit is given to voice actors in a satisfactory manner. Every audiobook that I've picked up, browsed or downloaded has appropriately bestowed prominence upon the narrator alongside the author of the book.
Obviously this kind of immediate recognition is impractical for commercials, promos or trailers due to the brevity and nature of the voice over (advertising and staying on message), but it can be done to a greater degree for video games, computer games, documentaries, film and eLearning.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
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