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  • Writer's pictureDuncan Curtis - Director

USING VOICEOVERS – THE RECORDING PROCESS



In our previous article, we emphasised the importance of using professional voiceover artists in your video productions. Having chosen your preferred artist, below are a few further considerations for the record day. The aim of this article is two-fold. Firstly, to provide clients with a guide to what happens during voiceover sessions, and secondly to offer advice to directors, who may be new to the process.



TOO MANY COOKS…

 

Voiceover recording sessions are best left to the director from the production company. Minimizing the number of participants is crucial. Too many voices offering suggestions can prolong the process and potentially frustrate and confuse the artist. Once the script has been approved by the client, they should have confidence in the director and artist to deliver the best result between them.



THE STUDIO SESSION

 

Scheduling recording sessions will depend on artist availability. The more popular voiceover artists may not be instantly available, so it is sometimes worth having a backup artist in mind, if you are working to a tight production schedule. Maximising your planning time is key to ensuring your first-choice artist is available.

 

Make sure you deliver the script to the agency/artist ahead of the record day to give them time to prepare. It’s worth adding a few, basic directions with the script as well, including:


  • Purpose

  • Audience

  • Timing/Pace

  • Style/Tone (celebratory, reflective, upbeat, comedic, etc.)

 

Don’t overdo these directions at this stage. Brief, bullet point guides are all that are required in the script document.

 

In the past, directors attended many recording sessions in person. These days, most are directed remotely over Zoom or similar platforms, the obvious exceptions being longer form documentary or commercial voiceovers. Recording sessions are normally booked by the hour, so it’s important to turn up on time.

 

When the director dials in at the allotted time, they will meet the studio engineer and voiceover artist. Be friendly and build a rapport, but keep the chit-chat brief. The artist will be aware of the schedule and be more focused on their delivery and performance than too much social banter.

 

Keep it professional. Remind the artist of the style points above and answer any questions they may have.

 

The most important thing is to approach the session with an open mind. Having overly rigid ideas about intonation, emphasis, delivery, etc. can lead to over-directing the talent, which may not be appreciated and could prolong the recording session. Remember, voiceover artists are paid well for their professional expertise and experience, and they often offer readings, tones, and emphasis that may be better than you had originally imagined.



Let the artist read the script through once or twice in their own style and then provide feedback. When they’re ready, ask if they are happy to record. Ask them to try a few takes with slight variations in tone and pace, as an alternative option may work better in the edit. Listen carefully for stumbles. The artist and sound engineer will usually pick these up anyway, but there may be times they are missed, so don’t be afraid to ask them to re-read lines if you think you may have heard anything untoward. Be particularly mindful of emphasis and pronunciation, particularly if scripts contain industry or brand specific words, abbreviations or phrases that the artist may not be aware of.  Remember, this is a collaborative process. If the artist states they would like to re-read sections, let them do so until they are happy.

 

Directing the recording session is a balancing act. It's essential to capture enough variety to provide editing options without micro-managing every word. Have faith in your voiceover artist, but make sure you are 100% happy with the options you have at the end of the session, as further record sessions to fix any mistakes will incur additional costs. If you wish to review any takes, the engineer will be happy to play them back for you.

 

Highlight your preferred takes to the engineer, but make sure they send all the other takes as well, as you may find alternative line reads work better in the edit. WAV files will normally be provided as these provide the highest quality for use in your video projects.

 

Above all, have fun. Voiceover artists are always friendly, used to taking direction and want to deliver the best results for you. Enjoy the day.

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