5 Top Tips for voiceover directing

The smoothest projects are always the well-planned ones.

At least that is what I find. The ones where everyone knows what is happening, when it is happening and how it is happening

So, voice over projects. It’s great to be able to chat (or email) through the project with the director before the recording. It’s fantastic where we’ve done a test to check the tech is all running properly and where I’ve had a script in advance or even a video to watch.  Of course it’s superb where we’re not squeezing everything in at the last minute.  Tension shows up in the voice, and experienced directors know that.

If planned out correctly, it also allows time to correct anything as needed and also to experiment or play around with the script to get some even better options for the producer.

You may be directing in real-time using software like Source Connect, skype or even a phone patch. Alternatively you could request that your voice artist self-directs themselves. Whatever you do choose, if you plan it out well then you will get the most out of the session and it will be more fun than painful.

(1) Checkout the talent and the studio

You have to be sure that the voiceover artist is able to produce broadcast standard audio. They may show you a fancy demo reel, but if they don’t have a professional studio, you’ll be disappointed. So before you book them, ask for a studio test first. Even better, and what is common, ask them for a sample from your script.

(2) Tell the voiceover artist what you want

This is just so important, but so often not done. Unless you tell me what you want, how am I going to get it for you? It doesn’t have to be a long description and it can be done quite easily on the day via a short conversation or email. Voice artists are used to performing different emotions, so just tell them what you want.

 (3) Scripts which work

Please, make sure the script is what you want to hear. That may sound odd, but I get scripts which are written but never read prior to the session. This means they will not fit the video, or they don’t sound natural (e.g. Using ‘we will’ instead of ‘we’ll’). Another thing to avoid are tongue twisters. Although I can do many of them, to get the best out of any voiceover try not to put awkward words next to each other (e.g. Try saying ‘will lilt together’ in a natural tone pronouncing all the consonants). Hard to pronounce words? Supply a recording of it. That means you know and I know what you want to hear.

Record yourself speaking the script before the session so that you can amend it before it gets to me. That saves time and ultimately money. Quite frequently I get scripts which need to be amended on the fly. Don’t do it. Proof read it and amend it.

Timing. Some directors or producers like to get the voice recorded first and and then put the voice to the video and others prefer it the other way around. Whichever you decide to do I can help you out.

It would be great if you could provide me with a script with timings to aim for at each sentence or paragraph end, or whatever is relevant. So for example put the time at the end of each sentence.

Alternatively, or in addition, give me a copy of the video to perform the voiceover to. If you can record your own voice to the video then that’s even better as I know what timings to hit.

Oh, and don’t try and force too many words into the video. Quite often less is more. I tend to base normal speaking time around 150 words per minute. I can fit in any number of words at any timing you want, but it would not communicate your message effectively.

(4) Other things you may not realise I do

I might be performing the voice for your internet video, but have you considered the whole customer experience for your customers?

I had a client who ran an elearning company. She requested that I record for the internet video, the automated telephone answer machine (IVR) and the suite of elearning modules. Why? To achieve continuity throughout her brand.

Speaking of telephone answer phones, did I tell you that I can mix your music with my voice to produce a slick answer phone message?

(5) Following up

Just because the session has finished don’t forget that I am still here! That’s right, you’ll get the same quality every time for your future projects. Also, I have had directors contact me asking if I know of a female voice, or a regional voice or another kind of voice. Voiceover artists tend to know others in the business and it’s no problem to refer them to a video producer, and that is exactly what I do.

I am always here for advice, again at no charge!

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