28 May Should I Feature An Actor, A Voice-Over Artist Or Company Staff In My Videos?
You know you need video content to promote your business, have carefully planned out all the amazing product features you want to highlight. But when it comes to working out who’s going to star in your video, you’ve been grappling over whether to feature an actor, a voice-over artist, round up some employees to step in front of the camera, or even take on the role yourself for weeks now. We get it – choosing the right presentation format can be a challenging proposition. Depending on the type of production, each approach has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that can either help or hinder what you’re trying to achieve with your video content.
So what’s the best option? It all comes down to your unique business model, and your goals. If you’re looking for a polished and professional spokesperson to lift the production aesthetics of your videos, using an actor or a voice-over artist might seem like the best options. However, if creating a sense of connection, brand familiarity or authenticity is the main objective of your video content, then featuring yourself or your staff members might yield better results.
Let’s dive in and take a look at each approach in terms of what may work best for you and your business.
Actor – Cons
Filming Considerations: When you’re filming an actor (or staff member, for that matter) you have to take into consideration all of the following: sound, costuming, props, sets etc.––all things that you wouldn’t have to think twice about if you opted to use a voice-over, which you can have professionally recorded elsewhere in a controlled environment. With actors, a lot of thought, time, planning, preparation, and effort has to go into how you’re going to record what the actor’s saying without picking up wind and background noise. As time equals money, for productions with tighter budgets opting for a voice over recording a few lines in a closed, quiet studio might therefore be a faster, cheaper option.
Spokesperson Association: Tying your brand to an actor brings with it many benefits as previously outlined. However, you cannot account for an actor’s future behaviour. If something detrimental catches the public eye, your brand, company, and message could be tarnished by association – and restoring damaged brands can be lengthy and costly.
Rigid Opportunity For Change: In logistical terms, filming with an actor or company spokesperson doesn’t allow much room for change in the editing suite. What you have is what you’ve got to use. If that footage isn’t quite up to standard or you’ve since decided to move in another direction, then the time, energy, resources, and finances expelled in filming the production have all been wasted. Similarly, if the actor you’ve used in past productions isn’t available for future shoots, productions can be tied up in indefinite waiting limbo.
Actor – Pros
Identifiable: An actor puts a face to the name of your video, message, and business. If they’re someone who audiences can relate to and identify with, having an actor at the front and centre of your video content not only personalises what you are about and are trying to convey, but it also personifies your brand and core values. The actor should therefore embody all the traits that your business strives to uphold, and this can be communicated in a variety of ways, including body language, tone of voice, dress, and personality. A good example to draw from Apple’s iconic “Mac vs. PC” commercials (For those who missed them, the Apple Mac computer was represented and personified by a dressed-down, open-minded, and relaxed young contemporary man, who was juxtaposed by the over-dressed, close-minded, and stuffy older man reflecting an out-of-date PC). Choosing the right actor as the lead in your video can lead to an increase brand exposure, product awareness, and/or public interest.
Wish Fulfillment: The right actor can be a big drawcard in more ways than one. Buyers can see themselves in the role of the actor, be it in terms of look, age, gender, status, virtue, or just general appeal. The actor doesn’t have to necessarily be famous for this to happen, but they do have to possess some characteristic that fosters a need in the audience to pay attention to what is being communicated. When this is achieved, audience attention shifts to what the actor is telling them––namely, why company/message/product is great, as evidenced through the great things the actor is doing in the video. In effect, the actor is selling a lifestyle that the viewer can identify themselves having.
Brings Emotion: Emotion is an immeasurable trait in more ways than one – you can’t quantify how much of it there is nor can you qualify how much you need it. A skilled actor can bring a level of emotion that automatically resonates with audiences and endears them to your message (and brand!). This level of connectivity between sender and receiver / company and client is undeniably effective.
Voice-Over – Cons
Lacks Connection: Sometimes people just like to see people – it can be as simple as gleaning a sense of connection with those on screen for no other reason than they like seeing something familiar, identifiable, and recognisable. There’s a level of safety and surety about that – a face to the name to foster believability. While a voice-over can certainly still deliver powerfully authentic and honest messages well, it’s more likely to be perceived as less personable when compared to acted fare.
Social Issues: With the bulk of social media platforms defaulting to playing videos without audio unless viewers manually un-mute them, a video with subtitles or text on screen is the best option to catch viewer’s attention. Viewing numbers dip for videos featuring an actor without subtitles, with last place going to videos with only a voice over and no subtitles – the reason videos with actors have the slight edge here is viewers are more likely to ‘un-mute’ a video to work out what the actors are saying. Quick semi fix? Make sure any videos with voice over also include subtitles.
Emotionally Distant: Similar to the first point, the voice-over can only do so much in terms of eliciting an emotional response from audiences. Narration and the voice in general is limited in comparison to acting when it comes to engaging an audience. It’s easier to tune out to a talking background noise than it is someone on screen speaking directly to you, which (if done well – big caveat there!) can be more engaging or charismatic than narration.
Voice-Over – Pros
Adaptable: Had a change of plans and need to alter your offer? With a voice over, last minute changes to your video are easy – simply re-record the message. Voice overs are also great for allowing for unlimited customization – everything from changing languages for different markets, right through to adjusting tone/gender of voice artist for different audiences.
Professionalism For Pennies: Where having an actor can be costly, voice overs are a relatively inexpensive way to seriously up-level the professional tone of your production for mere pennies, making them a great option for businesses watching their wallets.
Unobtrusive: The great thing about voice-overs (or good quality ones, at least) is that they naturally direct audiences to the point that you’re trying to communicate without being in their faces. Where an actor can be distracting at times, using a voice-over is like having a clear, discernible narrator guide audiences through a story. The interpreting work you’d have to do by watching every little detail is largely done for you. The voice-over tells, and you listen. Like any good communication, the voice-over functions to serve only one purpose: say what need to be said in the clearest and most memorable way.
Voice of God: There’s something very powerful about just listening, especially listening to something that is being told to you in a dynamic way. That is only amplified when the voice speaking is bold, rich, and strong – cue the Voice Of God style of narration. You know what a good ‘VOG’ voice sounds like. Everybody does. It’s the sound of Saturday night TV and commercial radio. You hear and take on board what is being communicated. If the VOG style would suit your brand message, it can be very powerful and memorable.
Star Your Staff, Or Star Yourself – Cons
Knee Trembling And Sweaty Palms: Delivering lines to a camera can be daunting, particularly if it’s your first time being filmed and/or being in the public eye is outside you or your staff’s comfort zone. Some newcomers to video shrug off the jitters easily and shine, while others become a jello-like puddle of nervousness.
Take 196: Getting your lines right can swallow up multiple takes, and delivering lines in a believable and persuasive way when you’re nervous is a tricky feat. This can blow out filming times, making productions costs exponentially more expensive the longer that filming set time is stretched out to accommodate for all the bloopers.
Staff Or Colleague Issues: While it’s rare, working out which of your staff would be the video hostess with the most-ess can sometimes cause workplace conundrums. If you select one staff member to appear in your video content, will this cause issues with other team members perceiving it as favouritism? Will staff feel obliged to appear in the video if asked, even though they’d prefer not too? And if their performance isn’t up to scratch, will it be uncomfortable for them or yourself if the project doesn’t get used or the campaign does poorly? With careful planning most of these potential issues can be mitigated, but it pays to be aware that workplace issues can sometimes arise.
Star Your Staff, Or Star Yourself – Pros
Cost Effective: Not to minimise the value of you or your staff’s time, but generally speaking the end price ticket of a production featuring staff members is far more modest than one featuring professional actors. That said, if tight budgets are a factor then opting for narration with a voice over artist are generally the least expensive option (depending on the star calibre of the artist, and the finished length of the video).
Faster Turnarounds: Casting for actors and scheduling filming dates around their availability, or waiting for voice over files to be returned can slow down production. Stepping in front of the camera yourself can often happen as quickly as you can clear your calendar.
Authentic With A Capitol A: There’s something to be said about being the face and the voice of the business, and just owning it. When compared to hearing about a business from an actor, a staff member or business owner brings a level of authenticity that can’t be beaten. If you’re nervous about messing up lines or being perceived as less polished and glamorous than an actor, you might be surprised at how well people respond to messages that are a little less smooth but brimming with authenticity and entrepreneurship.
Hopefully these suggestions have answered a few questions and provided you with a little more clarity in terms of what technique will best suit what you’re wanting to achieve.
If you have any further questions or enquiries or would like more ideas, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line and we will get in touch with you ASAP.