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Voiceover Emotes – The Power Of Efforts

Starting from the top, voiceover emotes might also be referred to as ‘efforts’ or even sometimes as ‘barks’. Essentially, what is being referenced here are the sound effects a voice actor makes when they are performing. What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Emote’ or ‘Efforts’? Maybe you visualize yourself screaming down a microphone powering up to unleash your most powerful attack. Perhaps you imagine being punched in the gut or shot in the leg. Well, the truth of the matter is that emotes are more than just battle sounds. A small chuckle, a sigh of relief or even the ‘YUM’ satisfactory sound when enjoying a New York cheesecake all count as emotes. Just about any sound you make will count as an emote.

Emotes, Efforts and Barks

Why does this concept have three different names? Well actually it has more than three, but these are the most common. Though each of them cover the same topic, they are all used in different settings. Emotes are usually the easiest to explain as they literally cover anything. That’s the ‘Weeeee’ going down a slide right through to the manic laughter before blowing up a planet. Barks tend to be associated and used with ‘grunt’ sounds, particularly in military-styled video games. Then efforts generally cover everything, but lean more towards action scenes as opposed to the casual chuckle.

Two characters with emotion representing the Voiceover Emotes article.

The Talented Voice Actor

From the voice actor’s perspective, there is a demand to be able to do all of these sounds and to do them well. You see, be it a video game, animation or anime, the need for sound is critical. A great voiceover delivery is accompanied by excellent animation and soundtrack. But the fact of the matter is that the voice actor’s performance is made complete by their effort sounds. What makes this tricky is the simple truth that there is a huge spectrum to consider here. Imagine for a moment you are in the world of an anime character. You are voicing the role of the protagonist. He is sitting eating breakfast with his friends, and the first sound we hear from him is a ‘mmmm yummy’. Following this his friend slips onto his back, he eagerly runs back and forth going ‘ow ow ow!’. Your character responds to this with an uncontrollable laugh. Next thing we know the antagonist charges through the window and punches you in the gut. The scene ends with you fueled by anger at his intrusion. Here we can see a range of emotions from satisfaction to ecstatic and then from pain to anger. Jumping between all of these emotions in one performance can be tricky and only the best voice actors can do it.

Voice Talent – Truthful Emotes

There is no illusion that voice acting is just acting that everyone hears and nobody sees. Be it an animated eccentric fire-breathing space rabbit or the new product release of a conversational commercial, the need to deliver truth to the audience is critical. Ensuring the acting ability exists and that the performance is a well-attended craft is vital. Believability is what makes something interesting. The performance is what draws the audience in. From a talent hire perspective, the director and casting team are looking for a believable performance. Like a muscle being strengthened at a gym, the talent a performer hosts consistently needs to be used. Every audition is a win as you get to practice your craft. Every job is a bigger win because you get paid for practising your craft. But practice makes perfect and continuing to develop in your own time is important too.

Two characters with different emotions representing the Voiceover Emotes article.

Voiceover Emotes – The Power Of Efforts Wrapped

The truth is that not everyone can deliver a high-profile emote or effort. The voiceover sub-genres such as video games, animations and anime are not for everyone. But the skill is required to some degree even if just a basic understanding is achieved. Emotes are used in audiobooks and in commercials. Though perhaps less in commercials, it is still there and a voice actor needs to be prepared for it. So even if your goal is to work away from the more animated lines of voiceover, this is a skill you will need to master regardless. The more you absorb and learn, the easier it will be when you are faced with an emote. All in all, enjoy the experience. We are all playing and pretending and the truth of our performance is captured with discipline and creativity.

Voiceover Emotes – The Power Of Efforts by Alan Shires

June 13, 2024
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