How Get The Best Out Of A Voice-over Session
So your video project looks great and is ready to deliver. You have a talented voice actor and an excellent, well-timed script to fit the picture. Now all that’s needed is the voice-over (VO)…
Here are some key tips on how to record a professional sounding VO:
Quiet Room with Soundproofing– Firstly, one of the most defining characteristics of a professional voice-over, is the acoustics of the room. The room must be free from unwanted background noise (e.g extractor fans, ticking clocks and traffic).
Normally the sound studio will have soundproofing as well, which will suppress any unwanted echoes and or ringing sounds. The room should have sound proofing materials in or around the recording area such as heavy blankets/drapes, foam panels and or other sound absorbing materials. It is important that all the hard surfaces are covered, as they tend to reflect sounds.
Using the Microphone – Whatever microphone you use, you want to make sure that it has an adjustable stand with a shock mount. You don’t want your voiceover artist to be handling the microphone in any way, as this will introduce unwanted noise.
Your talent should get close to the microphone when speaking, about 2-10cm (1-4 inches). The further away you are, the thinner the voice sounds and the more noticeable the room tone and background noise becomes. To avoid the popping sounds of plosives such as ‘B’s and ‘P’s, and the sibilants of ‘S’s, be sure to use a pop shield a couple inches from the microphone. The fabric on pop filters diffuses the rush of air created by these sounds, and minimizes the effect they have on the recording. They also help to keep the speaker’s mouth the right distance from the microphone.
Headphones – When recording the VO, you should provide your voice actor with a set of closed ear circumaural headphones. These are full sized headphones with ear cups that fully enclose the ears, effectively sealing the ear and preventing sound from leaking out and onto your recording.
Editing the voiceover – For that extra touch, use a compressor filter to amplify quieter sounds, while reducing louder sounds for a smoother more even result. Used moderately, compression can usefully reduce dynamic range, and thus improve intelligibility of the words, while still leaving you with a natural sounding result. If used excessively, it will suck the life out of a recording. An EQ filter can be used to eliminate sibilants and other unwanted sounds, such as low-end rumbles and high-end frequencies.
Note it’s better to add EQ and compression when you can hear how it will sit with the soundtrack or special effects in the video. However it eventually comes down to knowing what your voice will be used for and making a judgment.
Here are some key tips for improving your VO skills:
#1-Find your voice – Today’s average voiceover is more causal and you don’t have to supercharge your voice to get a recording that sounds current.
#2-Slightly Larger Than Life – Whereas a normal speaking voice is fine in person, it loses something in a voiceover. In order to get the most out of your voice, push your vocal inflection and add emotion.
#3-Know the Material – Rehearsing and preparation helps make the final performance that much easier, especially when the script is filled with technical terms. Knowing how things fit together will also help with pacing.
#4-Standing Delivery – Record when you stand up because it opens your breathing and makes it easier to speak clearly and consistently. In addition it allows your body to be more animated, which will impact your delivery.
#5-Take Care of Yourself – Singers consider their voices as instruments for good reason. A good night sleep and plenty of water is a great start. Avoid coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and making any noise, which will put strain on your vocal cords.
#6-Ummm… – Your voice-overs should be hesitation free. This is simply a function of practice and familiarity with the material.
#7-Inflection – The challenge is to overcome the tendency to end each sentence in a rising tone like a question. With practice you can end non-sentences in a falling or neutral tone. In addition if the script is upbeat, recording your voice-overs with a smile will help push the message through.
#8-Just Breathe – As you practice reading the script, mark places where you can safely take a breath, especially where you know there will be an edit or pause and rehearse breathing in those places.
If you have any questions about recording a VO, or you want to book a session, you can ring our studio: 020 7734 5558
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