My life in Beijing is nothing if not diverse. For the past several years, I have done a variety of jobs in this city, one of which is voice-over recording. As a singer who has recorded many albums, I have good vocal control and I know how to use a microphone. Add to that my Canadian accent (often considered the equivalent to the US media accent) and I could easily do this full-time if I wanted to.
I don’t, by the way. Once a week on average is enough for me. Even with the lucrative cash pay-out at the end of a session, it’s obviously not the kind of studio time I enjoy the most.
That being said, it’s got its advantages. Voice-over work is usually brain-numbing, which has forced me to be extremely good at splitting my focus. I have learned how to read a script and write an email on my phone at the same time, for instance. I use the studio sessions as a way to get caught up on my digital correspondence.
Occasionally, I am called in to do a part-speaking, part-singing script, which is fun (and even more lucrative). I’ve also done a few narrations for films and documentaries. Sometimes we get to do cartoon voices. Sometimes it’s pure acting through dialogues with a male voice-over partner, and this keeps us engaged too.
But the best parts of the job are a mixture of typos and cultural misunderstanding embedded in the texts:
To date, I have dozens of these pics. One day I’ll do a comprehensive photo montage for the pure humour of it all. The texts are, of course, not written by native English speakers in the first place. The books are often already printed by the time they get to the audio component.
We voice over artists can only say one thing to the future English speakers of China: “Good luck kids!”
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift