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Voiceovers Recording Room Preparation Tips

January 14, 2010

You’ve found your voiceover talent and are ready to start producing your script, and the next step will be to create a professional recording for advertising. It is possible that you have a videographer or production team helping you create a voiceover script, but did you realize that there are computer software programs and tools that can create the entire project for you from beginning to the end?

The environment in which you will record your Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE voiceover has to be prepared properly to assure the creation of a quality advertising and promotion piece. Here are some essential tips when preparing the room for your voice over recording:

1. Equipment check. Booking the voiceover talent for the project and then wasting several hours testing equipment will cost you. ”Producing Great Sound for Digital Video” author, Jay Rose, expertly suggests that you should get the right kind of equipment and test it the day before production schedule. If you can’t test the equipment the day before production, then conduct the test a few hours before production time to reduce the chance of any unforseen delays.

2. Make sure the room does not create echoes. The only way you’ll know if the room is creating an ‘echoing’ effect is when you turn on the microphone and shut all the doors and windows. Conduct some test recordings with all of the equipment so that the echo effect can effectively be reduced.

3. Consider using background music. In a professional voiceovers, there should not be any noise between the narrator and the listener. You want to create an audio space that sounds as if the narrator is having a face-to-face conversation with the audience. If you have a lot of ‘white noise’, consider adding background music.

4. Find the best position in the room for the recording. There are no rules about where to position the microphone, so feel free to move the mic setup into different areas of the room to get the right sound. You don’t want to record when the sounds seem hollow or filtered in any way. Move around to find the best fit.

5. Don’t worry about outside traffic or small rumbles. Even simple things like fluorescent lighting or distant traffic outside the window can effect the sound quality of your voiceover recording. However, most mics do not pick up these sounds. If you do feel like the script is being affected by these outside sounds, consider adding a high-pass filter to the microphone for a crisper recording.

6. Reduce noise from vents, air conditioners and computer fans. Noise from computers, air conditioners and other similar equipment may be picked up by the mic especially when you are recording in small area. Sounds from these machines can cause some turbulence for your recording, so it’s a good idea to turn them off for as long as possible during each recording segment.

Use a pair of headphones to monitor the voiceover recording throughout the production cycle. Take advantage of playback functions in a different room to make sure that everything is going smoothly; this will reduce the need to do another ‘take’ and can also help you address any problems with the audio quality of your voiceover recording right away.

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Using Voiceover Demo Tapes to Assess Talent

December 18, 2009

You must spend some time to find the perfect voiceover artist for your commercial. The search for the best voiceover artist includes listening to voiceover demo tapes sent by each applicant. You can initially gauge the style and suitability of an applicant to your project by listening to demo tapes.

Asking applicants to send in demo tapes can be a better alternative to asking artists to schedule a voice over test in your office. Interviews can put some pressure on artists while a demo tape will give them a chance to do a natural and unstrained performance. Then again, you need to have a set of criteria in listening to voiceover demos. Below are five important criteria you need to evaluate:

1. Pace. Pay attention to the speed of the actor’s delivery. A good voiceover artist is someone who can adjust his pace easily to emphasize different ideas. Rodney Saulsberry, author of “You Can Bank On Your Voice”, states that the speed of delivery has an important effect on any voice over piece. Good artists understand that a very slow delivery and an extremely fast delivery are a pain to listen to and they should know how to pace their voice throughout a piece.

2. Arouses interest. You want voiceover talents that can easily grab your attention right at the beginning of a set. Along with a talent’s tone, good voiceover talents can stress specific words and emphasize important phrases to stir interest in a piece. Prioritize tapes that start out strong and are able to sustain that initial interest through the end.

3. Flexible accent. Good voiceover talents can change their accent and imitate other dialects. Pay attention for examples of these when listening to a recording. An artist who has this quality will have no problem in portraying different characters.

4. Speaking Pattern. The delivery pattern of a voiceover piece is a significant element in any recording. The correct delivery pattern or rhythm can help listeners to remember the script and even identify the brand being promoted. It is important to take note of this when listening to every demo tape.

5. Wit. Comedy is an integral part of many successful voiceover scripts. Listen if an applicant displays wit through a cheerful tone and jokes. Assess if the artist delivered his jokes in such a way as it made you smile or made you feel uncomfortable.

Selecting the right voiceover talent for your commercial or voice over project can be challenging, but demo tapes can help you assess a talent’s ability and skill level. Listen for these key elements in every demo tape so that you have an accurate assessment of the talent’s potential; a seasoned voiceover artist will demonstrate mastery in these five critical areas, and provide you with several examples of each skill and style.

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Effective Ways to Improve Voiceover Scripts

November 11, 2009

Your voiceover copy will either spell out success or failure of your radio commercials or podcasts. Your copy should be convincing enough to gain credibility with your listeners. Be warned though that writing voiceover copies are very different from writing print ads.

Peter Drew, a veteran voiceover artist who is involved in Internet and radio productions, emphasizes the idea of ‘writing for the ear, not the eye.’ This idea requires one to write brief and straight to the point messages, the kind that we use in conversations. This style may seem very strange for anyone who has written ad copies but developing this style will allow one to create effective and convincing voiceovers.

Here are some simple ways to modify your marketing copy and recording strategies that will ensure the voiceover is narrated as smoothly as possible, and that it really does deliver a high-impact message to your target audience:

1. Always use the active voice. The secret in creating an effective script is to make it as close to a natural conversation as possible. The use of the active voice will ensure that each line won’t sound artificial and thus making it easier for your script to connect with your audience.

2. Use a windscreen to protect the mic. If your voiceover script contains a lot of words that begin with the letters ‘P’, ‘B’ and ‘T’, the talent may have difficulty reading the sentence without distorting it. A windscreen can help eliminate this problem and help them deliver a more smooth-sounding sentence.

3. Highlight inflections or nuances in your copy. Marking up significant words or phrases in your script will help an artist understand and convey the subtleties of your message. You need to read out aloud the script first then identify significant words or phrases that needs to be stressed. Then you can either underline, italicize, or mark those important words and phrases in your script.

4. Write down phone numbers in word form. Numbers are also words that would need to be read. Spell each number so that you can detect if there are any blockages to your script’s overall impact. Be prepare to edit your script if any part sounds inappropriate.

5. Instantly grab your listeners’ attention. Headlines are what lure audiences to listen to any advertisement. Your headline will serve as an opening to your ad’s body. A great headline would be composed of less than ten words and contain at least one compelling benefit or statement.

It is the job of the scriptwriter to ensure that the script or copy will match the talent of the voiceover artist. Each voiceover artist can project a certain personality and this has to fit with the script. Once an artist has been selected, the script can then be altered to match the artist. What’s important here is that the artist voice, personality and quirks should match your message. Also give time for the artist to practice delivering the message. Be sure to apply all of these techniques to create a solid and compelling script.

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Recording Professional Voiceovers – Room Preparation Tips

June 29, 2009
Sound Check

Sound Check

Creating a professional voice over project on your own can be achieved using computer programs and tools. This will allow you to save on the cost of hiring a videographer or a production team. You just need to hire talents and have a script and you are all set to record.

Preparation is vital to produce a professional quality voiceover piece. In particular, you initially need to setup the room in which you’ll record in. Here are some useful tips to do just that.

1. Check all your equipment. Booking the voiceover talent for the project and then wasting several hours testing equipment will cost you. Jay Rose, the author of the book “Producing Great Sound for Digital Video” suggests that you make sure you get the right kind of equipment and test it well before production day. Even testing it a few hours before production time can reduce unforeseen delays.

2. Check if the room produces echoes. The only way to do this is to seal the room by shutting all the doors and windows and record some samples. Again, test all of your equipments to determine and lessen echoes.

3. Consider using background music. In a professional voiceover, there should not be any noise between the narrator and the listener. You want to create an audio space that sounds as if the narrator is having a face-to-face conversation with the audience. If you have a lot of ‘white noise’, consider adding background music.

4. Look for the perfect spot to record in the room. There are no concrete guidelines when it comes to finding the best position for your mic and other equipments. This can only be done through trial and error by adjusting the position of your microphone. Find the best spot but just make sure your recordings don’t sound unnatural in anyway.

5. Don’t worry about outside traffic or small rumbles. Even simple things like fluorescent lighting or distant traffic outside the window can effect the sound quality of your voiceover recording. However, most mics do not pick up these sounds. If you do feel like the script is being affected by these outside sounds, consider adding a high-pass filter to the microphone for a crisper recording.

6. Switch off fans and blowers. Fans on computers, air-cons and other blower devices can affect the air atmosphere of your recording room as they produce turbulence. This is more evident in a small room than a large one. The solution to this is to switch of these equipment while doing a recording. You can turn them on in between segments.

Also monitor always the recording session in real-time using your headphones. Utilize playback functions in a seperate room to ensure that all is in order. Doing this will allow you to solve problems real-time and spare you doing retakes.

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Six Reasons Why Your Advertising Plan Needs Voice Over

April 29, 2009

Those working in the realm of marketing are more than likely aware that a multimedia elements can prove valuable additions to just about any campaign. Though the audio/visual approach to marketing was honed on more traditional media such as television, the advent of the Internet has left us with even greater opportunities, including but certainly not limited to webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

Any of these media or any combination thereof allow you valuable lines of communication, but you should never neglect to develop an effective, professionally done audio element to supplant visual or textual marketing. In addition to utilizing music and other contextual sonic elements, you may want to consider things like narration or a catchy slogan to accent your message.

In nearly every marketing situation, there is something to be said for hiring voice over talent to speak directly to potential customers. Below, I have list just six of the myriad of reason to hire a professional voice actor or actress for your campaign.

1. To help create an identity for your brand. To start your marketing campaign off on the right foot, you will want to create a strong sense of brand identity. A distinctive, professionally-done voice over can be the human element that makes consumers remember your brand.

2. A high-quality voice over shows professionalism. When you’re speaking to a large potential audience, you’re going to want to ensure that you’re expressing your message in a manner that makes you look good. The right voice over talent will make your marketing seem polished and professional, and this will reflect on your organization as a whole.

3. To set you apart from others in your field. In the competitive markets of today, a new brand must innovate in order to reach the right audience, and you as a marketer must come up with memorable strategies to increase the brand’s visibility – a high-quality voice over is a great start.

4. To create a harder-hitting advertisement. Print and visual media are all well and good– in fact, they’re essential facets of communicating effectively in marketing. Audio, specifically speech, however, is likely the most important of all. When customers are addressed by the right voice actor or actress, they’re sure to listen, and sales will increase as a result.

5.To drive up website hits. In the marketing world of today, it is becoming more and common for everything to point back to one’s online presence. In your marketing campaigns, it’s a great idea to incorporate messages that lead back to your website, and voice overs, whether contained in podcasts, webinars, or other, more traditional media, provide a great opportunity to do this.

6. To make the most of your marketing dollar. Television spots are great, but let’s face it: they’re expensive. Production costs can also be restrictive when it comes to creating online video. Investing in a voice of by a professional voice actor or actress can be a cost-effective way to increase the impact of your marketing.

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Understanding Voice Over Jargon

March 24, 2009

In marketing today, the perfect voice over can be the element that turns an advertising campaign that is simply good into a great one. Picking a voice with which your target market will identify, you can forge a human connection with your audience and enjoy the resultant boost in sales.

Those who are considering using voice actors in their marketing projects would do well to learn a few key terms and definitions that are commonly used to talk about the voice over field.

Audition Tapes: Prospective voice actors and actresses will submit their audition tapes as they apply for the job. In addition to allowing you to judge the abilities of each actor, these tapes also can be kept on hand to help you keep track of the numerous applicants you will be interviewing.

Demo Tapes: Demo tapes are also part of the interview and audition process, and can be recorded in your own studio, or completed by the voice over talent. These tapes will be a recording of the sample scripts you provide as part of the interview.

Recording Studio: To complete any voice work, you will need a studio in which it can be recorded. While you always have the option of renting a studio for a project, you should always ask voice talent if they have the equipment to record at home, as this will save you the cost of studio time.

ISDN Voice Over: Recording studios used for professional voice over work should be equipped with ISDN technology. ISDN produces clearer, better-quality recordings than you could obtain from a run-of the mill studio.

Commercial Voice Overs: These are primarily targeting customers with a direct sales approach, and will push a product or service as part of the script. Commercial voice overs are powerful marketing tools that can deliver a message with high impact.

Narrative Voice Overs: These voice overs are not recorded for the express purpose of sales, but accompany some sort of video recording, complementing the story told by the on-screen action. You should not, however, discount their worth in marketing projects, as they can complement video advertisements exceedingly well.

Impressions: These are the types of voice overs that impersonate a famous person, celebrity, or imitate an historically famous personality. Impressions are a great way to make your message stand apart from the competition, and you can find many royalty-free scripts with this distinguishing feature in mind.

Performers’ Unions: Voice actors and actresses are often part of these professional organizations, which assist them in developing their craft and negotiate market rates. The Screen Artists Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) are the unions you will most frequently encounter in working with voice talent.

Actors: Voice over professionals are often individuals who were trained in drama and gravitated to the field of voice work because of their marketable skills and talents. A skilled voice actor or actress is a huge asset to any marketing project.

Familiarity with these key concepts and the associated terminology will help you immensely in your dealing with professionals in the voice over business. If you approach interviewing talent from an organized, educated perspective, you are sure to find a voice over professional who will boost the appeal of your advertising campaign.

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Key Traits Of Great Voice Over Talent

February 24, 2009

When marketers make the decision to hire voice over talent, they aren’t looking for just anyone – they’re looking for a professional. It’s certainly true that the right voice actor or actress for your project can boost the effectiveness of your marketing tremendously, but that means that you must put forth the effort the separate the wheat from the chaff and choose the candidate who is really the best fit for for the job. No matter the exact nature of your project, there are are several key traits that you will want to find in a professional voice actor.

These are seven of the most important traits to look for when interviewing voice over talent:

1.He or she has a believable voice. Though there is certainly a place for exaggerated narration in the style of an announcer or newscaster, you’re generally going to want an actor or actress who can perform naturally in a wide range of vocal styles.

2.The voice over has the right pitch and tone. Voice over artists are constantly practicing different pitches and tones of their voice so that they can create their own ‘music.’ This ensures that their voice stands apart from the rest; take the time to listen for distinct characteristics that make them different from other actors and actresses.

3.High-quality demo tapes. The tapes you receive from potential voice actors and actresses will be a great asset to you once your face-to-face interviews are over. Take advantage of the snapshot of an actor or actress’s work that these tapes provide, and use this insight in making your final decision.

4.Versatility. This is fairly self-explanatory; a truly skilled voice over professional will have the skill and talent necessary to perform well in a wide variety of dissimilar projects. Whether authoritatively reading off facts and figures, or attempting to make listeners laugh, a true professional will shine.

5.He or she exhibits a good vocal flow. In everyday speech, most of us stop and start erratically, and do not have much control over our speed. In the case of a professional voice over artist, this should not be so – a voice actor or actress should be able to speak in a fluid manner.

6.He or she can provide you with references. You should always ask for references from potential voice talent, and, furthermore, you should always take the few minutes necessary to look into them. Don’t underestimate the importance of this part of the interviewing process.

7.Energy, enthusiasm, and stamina. Those with experience in voice over know that it it is never a matter of simply reading a few lines and collecting a paycheck. Your voice actor or actress should be able to withstand the sometimes lengthy series of takes required to get it right, without becoming either mentally or vocally fatigued.

Interviewing potential voice talent may, at times, feel tedious, but in reality it is a key factor in the success of your project. If you can find a voice actor or actress with all of the aforementioned traits during the interview process, you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the road.