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The real voice of Siri explains the art of voiceover

Susan Bennett / Siri: Hello. You have a new
email from Generic Incorporated. Do you want to reply? A siri-like voice is still, at this point
in time, basically fairly robotic. Most people who just hear me on a daily basis don’t recognize
me as the original voice of siri because the pitch is… A little bit lower. Siri talks down here a
little bit. It’s not as evenly paces as if you were speaking
naturally – there are little what I like to call bumps. And the concatenated voices
that came before Siri were very, very robotic. You’d hear things like [robot voice] Hello.
How. Are. You. You know, you would never say, Hello, you
have three appointments for today. You’d say “hey, you’ve got three appointments today.” Well, when you see a direction that says very
peppy and energetic, so of course that’s what you do, that would be a younger-sounding voice
than my regular speaking voice, so I would pitch it a little bit higher. [Fake Ad]: Sometimes when you walk through
the grocery aisle, those other water brands just all seem the same. They’re flashy and
desperate when you just want something refreshing. That’s why you should drink Generic Water.
The water that doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. I would pitch it a little bit higher – pitch
it in my head, instead of in my chest – la, la, la, la, la – see and all of the sudden
you hit your break and then you’d have to go into falsetto. La- la-la-la-la-la. You
can tell very much from the copy what kind of person they’re looking for. It’s important
for you to keep in your mind who you’re talking to. Typically, we associate a deeper voice with
authority. [Fake Ad]: You think you know the truth about
Jake Gerald. But who really controls him? In the last year, he’s taken more than $100,000
from corporate bigwigs, at Generic Incorporated. Who do you want to represent you? Somebody
who listens to the people? Or someone who listens to Big Water? In this case, the voice actor needs to sound
urgent – it’s taken such a long time for women to really break into this aspect of
voiceover because people generally think of authority voices as male. Fortunately, that
has changed. But, [high voice] you’re not going to get
someone talking like that and saying “you think you know the truth about Jake Gerald,
but who really controls him?” It’s not a person you probably would.. run
into on a daily basis. [Fake ad]: Listen up. You think you know the
best water around? You have no idea. Generic water’s the hot new thing from Miami to Ft.
Lauderdale. Guys and girls everywhere are saying the same thing. Let’s get generic! That one was just a – yeah – that was
a little over the top. [Laughs]. Adding breath, yeah breath and just a real edge. A real edge
to the voice. You know, suddenly you’re the monster. You know? You will drink the water. So people that do voice acting for a living
have to think about all those things. About the pitch, and the tone, and the pacing, the
cadence of their speech, who their audience is, who they’re speaking to. It’s perhaps
a little bit more challenging than people might imagine.

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