Blog Voice Acting Skills You Learn from Improv

We assure you, there’s nothing to be afraid of here! There’s a lot to love about improv, much of which involves the opportunity to explore the limits of your own imagination.

In fact, the skills you build up in improv training apply directly to your other performing arts practices as well. Voiceover is no exception! We urge aspiring and established voice actors alike to sign up for an improv class or two because the lessons you learn throw multiple tools into your toolbox. Or, at minimum, sharpen the ones you already have. Trust us. What you get out of improv can’t be limited to a few blurbs on a blog. But darn it, we’re gonna try!

Character Consistency

Improv lives and dies on being able to create a character whole cloth, on the spot, and maintain said character. If the character doesn’t walk, talk, and move the same throughout the scene, it confuses the audience and throws off the rhythms you craft with your scene partners. The same goes with voiceover. Casting directors want to know that you understand your characters inside and out. You can maintain the nuances and not-so-nuances that make them… well… them for an entire session. And another entire session. And another entire session…

Internal Logic

As with character consistency, a voice actor also needs to know how to keep up with the consistency of the surrounding environment. In improv, the rules outlining the scene’s world get established early. Keeping within the scene facilitates a creative, compelling story—random for randomness’ sake only works if the world is explicitly like that, otherwise you end up with not-so-fun chaos.

Voice actors need to keep the internal logic of the world in mind when giving life to the characters living in it. After all, the world shapes so much of their characters. Reactions, accents, emotions, physical carriage… all of these factors and more determine how you interpret your roles, making them feel three-dimensional and real.

For example, in the reality we currently inhabit, potato mashers are simply kitchen implements. An improv scene where everyone has a potato for a head? Well, a masher is right out of Steven King! If that’s true, then what else is true, following the world’s internal logic?

Timing

People tend to assume all improv is comedic. That’s not true, so the timing you hone while training benefits more than your comedy performances! Improv teaches you the role pacing plays in crafting a scene, be it the breakneck back-and-forth of slapstick or longer pauses building tension in the thriller and horror genres. Once you’ve mastered timing, you can play around with it to creative ends, stretching and squashing your delivery for unique characterization.

(Improv will also make sure you know the right moments to play with timing vs. staying within convention! It’s a complex art like that.)

Multiple Takes

When you step into the booth for an audition or a final recording after you’ve been cast, you’re likely to encounter a director asking you to provide multiple takes. And they don’t mean they want you to repeat the same line the same way a few times in a row. Directors more than anyone know that time is money. They’re not going to wait a few minutes while you hem and haw over how you might interpret the lines before you.

During your improv training, you come to learn the character types best suited for your acting style. Stick with improv long enough and you may even master some character types you never knew you could play! Use these lessons to your advantage when doing voiceover. When you’re asked to show your stuff with multiple takes, you’ll be able to spout off rapid fire interpretations with different characterizations. Add accents, vary up the volume, slow it down, speed it up, experiment with pitch and emotion. Now’s a chance to display both your range and your ability to conjure up ideas in seconds.

Interplay with Other Actors

These days, most voice actors record their lines separately from one another, though sometimes exceptions happen. It can be a challenge to make yourself sound like you’re having a multi-sided conversation with other people in these situations, especially if you’re self-directing. That’s where improv comes in, not to mention any other acting training you may have received. Observe the way your senses differ between when you’re alone vs. when you’re around others. Internalize how your characters interact with your fellow performers.

You’ll need this sensory information for the moments when you’re recording solo. Doing so adds dimensionality to your performance, ensuring you sound like you’re working with your fellow actors instead of simply reading lines off a page.

Come Improvise with Us!

Closing Credits offers improv alongside our suite of voice acting courses because we believe so strongly in how training in one field only enhances your training in the other. The performing arts are interdisciplinary—everything you learn in one field carries relevancy in another! And if you’re looking for other improvisers to play with outside of class, look no further than our Discord server. Many of your fellow students and improv alumni would love to join in on a practice session. Who knows… maybe this team-up could lead to an official team down the line?

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