Setting yourself up to succeed
As mentioned in part one, it is not the purpose of this blog to discuss the vocal talent of your chosen voice artist. However there are a number of fundamental voiceover skills an experienced VO will be able to display in order to prove their competence.
Checking script quality
There is a clear relationship between the length of commercial video and the production values/budget. TV commercials are usually slick, glossy affairs compared to customer stories or education videos. These in turn tend to have better production qualities than behind-the-scenes (BTS) or how-to-videos.
It’s a sliding scale that can have a big impact on script quality. Many projects simply don’t have the budget for an experienced script writer. Sometimes it's the end-client who writes the text.
This might mean the script is, frankly, not as good as it should be.
- Well-written prose that’s fine for a brochure or web page just might not convert properly when spoken aloud.
- Given that the recent fashion has been for conversational reads, it's important that the script sounds natural if that’s what the brief calls for.
- Equally, the language might sound ‘clunky’. This is especially true when translating from one language to another.
- The script might also be too long. (It’s rarely too short!)
An experienced voice artist will be able to notice script issues and, if required, make suitable suggestions or amendments to improve the read.
Some VOs (and I consider myself among this group) are also capable of writing voice scripts. This can be an important value add for you and your business, so please ask me if you’d like a hand with your script.
Reading for length
If you have a lengthy script it is essential you select a voice-over artist who is comfortable with longer reads.
That’s because long scripts, such as audiobooks or e-learning projects require a voice-over artist who is used to the length and pace of this type of work.
Mistakes can easily pile up in the hands of a less experienced VO. For example, placing the wrong emphasis in multiple sections, repeatedly stumbling over technical jargon or failing to place the right tonality, your project will take longer to complete. It might even need multiple re-recordings to put right.
This is particularly important with medical narration.
It is far better to work with a voice artist who is used to long form narration from the outset. If in doubt;
Ask the voice over you are considering how frequently they record long-form texts or scripts.
Recording pickups that match
A pick up is a re-recording of a short section of text that wasn’t emphasised quite the way the client intended. Perhaps the voiceover artist added stress on the first word, when it should have been on the third.
Whilst it is true that a good brief should avoid pickups ever being necessary, more often than not real life gets in the way. Sometimes the client needs to hear the text spoken out loud in order to compare it with the pre-recorded version in their head.
Yet the advantage of remote recordings is that pick ups are a breeze. For a professional voice artist with a pro-setup, delivering back a few lines of modified text should only take a few minutes.
But it’s essential that the pickup needs to be recorded with the exact same vocalisation as the original in order for it to be edited seamlessly into the earlier recording.
This is especially true if the pick up is recorded several days or even weeks after the original recording.
A pro voice-over who excels in remote recording will easily match the speed, tempo and style to deliver the perfect end-result.
A retake is different from a pickup in that the original recording was deemed unsatisfactory. This could be for a number of reasons.
On the client side it might be that after a perfectly good recording, a decision is made to change the script or the reading style. This is almost always a chargeable extra because additional recording will be required.
However errors can occur on the part of the VO. Whilst mistakes in the read can be easily changed with a re-recording (at no cost to the client), problems with the recording quality might be impossible to fix. These could include;
- Background noise, hiss or hum
- Reverb and reflection
- Poor editing
- Poor file quality
Such mishaps are easily avoided by only choosing to work with experienced voiceovers who excel in remote recording.
Extending the shelf life of projects
In the fast moving world of business and commerce, things change over time. Product specifications get updated, information falls out of date and is replaced by new intelligence. It’s all part of the natural lifecycle of business, but it often means that previously recorded information becomes redundant.
Fortunately, an experienced voice-over artist can easily record new material to match the style of the original voice. This will ensure that re-edits of the original project work seamlessly.
The new recording might take place months or even years after the original, meaning that your voice talent needs to be able to recreate the read long after the original project. You need an experienced voice artist for this.
Similarly you might be planning to record alternative versions and cut downs from the outset. Whilst this is not overly complicated, it does require a little vocal dexterity when voice recording. Make sure your voice actor can do this.
A voice-over not used to working remotely might just let you down.
Only voice actors with proven experience will not just handle your job with ease, but will deliver outstanding results for you.
Choosing a voice actor who excels at remote recording is an essential part of your due diligence.
Whether you are creating a corporate video, a medical explainer, an e-learning project, or a high-profile social media campaign, it’s only right that your project is delivered to the professional standard you expect.
Wherever you've got to with your next voice project, I'd love to help you make the best of it. It’s my job to take care of all the details outlined in this series so you don’t have to!
My goal is to make your customer experience as simple and enjoyable as possible – and deliver great results, so please let me know if I can help in any way...
Good luck with your next VO project!