This short film, featuring top American voice actor James Arnold Taylor and Bruce Ladd, is a very amusing but humbling tale of a voice over audition. Love it when justice is seen to be done!
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘voice over’
An insight into the world of the working voice over artist!
Ever wondered what we voice over artist peeps actually do? What does it involve? I’ve often been asked this by a whole range of people, including professionals in the corporate and creative worlds, but also friends and other people I meet on a daily basis. I think people think that we just wait for the phone to ring, someone picks us up in a taxi and off we speed to the studio to speak a few words and then whoosh! We’re whisked away again, and get paid a fortune….yeah right…:>) Well, I thought I would give you an insight into one of my weeks recently…
I voiced a complete array of projects:
The Commercial voice over
Provided the voice over for a commercial which needed to be voiced, edited and returned to the client within hours.
Audio book character voice over
I already had an Audio Book project booked in to record that week, a really interesting and fun project, and I always enjoy doing Audio Books . This involved devising 2 female character voices for a fully dialogued audio book, one young girl, and a middle aged Queen with a post-nasal drip – lovely, I get all the glamorous jobs!
E-learning voice over
I then had some short phrases/passages to record for a long term ongoing educational media project.
Internet video voice over
I voiced an online web infomercial , on a client’s product range, involving mapping/editing my voice to their Web Video – not as easy as it sounds! In between projects when I had a moment, I voiced short web videos on a large scale, promoting client properties – exhausting!
Radio Advert voice over
There was one radio advert in my inbox, asking me to be the voice over for a short advert. Now, with radio ads, you need to be on the ball, and be able to turn these around fast.
Corporate / technical voice over
What often happens is that you get last minute requests (Fridays seem to be popular), such as voicing a Corporate DVD / Web Video – a very technical read, full of awkward jargon, names and places, and requiring accurate pronunciation skills, and a reasonable level of intelligence to understand it and assimilate the information as quickly as poss! Technical reads invariably take slightly longer because of this. Sometimes they film the video and then decide they need a voice over – but yesterday – in steps moi!
That lovely, glamorous voice over studio booking!
Wah hey, here we go, that lovely studio booking I mentioned at the start of this post,when you imagine we get booked just like that, whisked off in a taxi, have everyone tell us how wonderful we are, give us coffee and buns, then say just a few words into the microphone and get paid a fortune? Having got the booking we get ourselves to the studio and even get a coffee and biscuits but then it’s a full day of focus and concentration. We do get lunch and plenty of breaks, which is always welcome – and necessary to keep the energy and concentration going!
Voice over enquiries and quotes
In between all of this there is answering enquiries, providing quotes, one being for a TV commercial on Channel 4 (TV Commercials are great jobs to bag!), plus the ongoing self-promotion that we have to do as a one person business: that’s marketing, including your website/blog , and networking activities – both online and face-to-face, getting out there face-to-face meeting people.
Admin admin admin!
Every time you do a job of course, you need to invoice the client and chase payments. For this, you need to have good admin and organisational skills to keep on top of it.
Managing/working the voice over recording facilities!
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also have my own recording and editing facilities, and there are always new things to learn on the editingfront. Having some teccie/sound production skills is a bonus here!
There, I hope this has given you an insight into a voice over artist’s world. There can be a lot of variety and many interesting voice over projects to become involved with, and it can be a great life.
And one last thing, don’t think that things always run as smoothly as that particular week; sometimes it can be like the Marie-Celeste – is there anybody there??! When the only ringing sound you’ll hear in your ears is definitely not the phone – it’s that old actors adage ‘my agent thinks I’m dead’!
Only recently, I was speaking to someone in business, and they made an assumption that using a voice over artist is an expensive matter. This perception had never crossed my mind before, so I thought it worth setting the record straight, as it may be more cost-effective than you think!
Back to reality… 🙂 The rest of us usually charge an hourly rate which is generally based on our expertise and experience. As an Equity member I do use their rates as a guideline but I tailor it to suit the type of service (and its intended usage) I’m asked to provide.
Cost-benefit in time saving and added credibility!
Cost is usually dependent upon the number of words, and how much time it is likely to record and edit the piece. The more experienced we are, the less time the voice over is likely to take, so there is great cost-benefit to be had by using a good voice over artist who is experienced in providing voice overs for companies.
As an aside, on more than one occasion I’ve been asked to step in and record a professional voice over following an attempt on behalf of the company concerned to do it ‘in house’. In those instances, by not using a professional they have wasted valuable time, possibly lost some business and, worse, credibility if the product or service has gone ‘live’.
Example: Costs for web video voice overs
For example, voicing a short web video on behalf of a company, whether a sole trader, SME , or large blue-chip corporate can be done at relatively low cost, from as little as £40 to about £250. My corporate showreel will give you some examples of voice overs I have provided in this area. These are all extracts from real voice overs I have done, not made up!
Own studio reduces client cost still further
With the benefit of having my own studio facilities, rather than using a separate studio, this can help to reduce client costs still further. As voice overs, we liaise directly with your video service provider.
This article is designed for business owners who are looking to use online or corporate video as part of their online marketing campaign or any corporate video strategy, but is also a useful tool for anyone who wishes to improve their voice and the way they sound!
So, you’ve decided that you want to use that great tool that is now the online video for your company, corporate or business website, as you’ve realised that it has great marketing and relationship-building potential, and you’ve also found out that Google loves online video in helping to boost your rankings. Then you need to decide whether you want to have your company expert or MD/CEO to narrate it, or to use a professional voice-over . Let’s say you’re going to use someone from your company to narrate it. Here’s a few tips that may just help!:
1. To start with the basics of course, you need a great, relevant company or corporate video
55% of how we learn is by seeing – the visual aspects of the video, of course. I know of several video production companies who could help you if you get stuck, just use my contact form…
2. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!
It is generally known that impact of communication is greater from the sound and tone of your voice– 38% , compared to only 7% by the words used. You can spend ages writing a great script, using your best corporate lines, but if the vocal quality and tone of your voice are terrible, the piece is doomed, as people will switch off and, more importantly, they won’t be impressed by your company! Read on to find out how you can turn this around…
3. If you think that you’re stuck with the way you speak, you’re wrong!
Most people do not know how to utilise their voices to their fullest extent and think that they are stuck with what they have; when in fact, with a little help, the majority can improve considerably. The tools are there, you just need to bring them out and dust them off, as some of them may never have been used before! In the same way (I’m also a singer), so many people tell me that they can’t sing. However, whilst this is true for a minority, the rest have just been conditioned to believe that they can’t, which can be attributed to background, upbringing, and geographical origin, as well as confidence. These were my findings when I wrote my final degree dissertation on the voice years ago. I need to go find it and when I do I will add more reference points to this article…it must have been OK, as I graduated with my 2:1 honours degree!
4. ‘Centre’ your voice
What I come across most of all is where people speak from their throat rather than their diaphragm. This tends to result in a rather thin sound, which is unstable as it’s not supported from what I call the ‘centre’, ‘root’ or diaphragm. This, in turn, can make people sound as if they lack confidence, or straining their voices. So, how do you obtain that ‘centred’ sound?
So, we’re going to learn to centre your voice. Remember, this sound should come from the very deepest part of you, and you can get to it by utilising your diaphragm.
Stand up straight, feet slightly apart, hands by your sides.
Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground.
Take a deep breath in and use an exclamation that you tend to use when you’re angry – it’s usually something like ‘Huh!’. Using anger is brilliant, as it is a base emotion and instinctively we are better able to produce a more gutteral sound. Notice that, when you do this correctly, you can feel your diaphragm working, and that ‘Huh!’ resonating through your body right from your feet upwards. If you’re feeling that resonance, you’ve got it – well done! This effect is what we call using a ‘centred’ voice. Your vocal tone will sound more definite, meaningful, confident and you should find that people are more likely to take you seriously when you’re speaking. Again, it’s not the content of what you are saying, it’s how you sound which will determine the message you are trying to convey.
Most of us wince at hearing the sound of our own voice, but you need to do this if you want to improve. Or better still, record it and ask a good colleauge or friend for some constructive feedback using the suggestions that follow. Try recording a piece of text and play it back. At this stage, I would suggest that you keep it to an audio recording and not a video, as you will end up also picking up visual signals which will detract from what you are trying to do. Listen to your own voice carefully when you play the audio recording back and make notes. We often think that we sound better than we do in reality. Does it have any or all of the following qualities? If it does, you don’t need these tips at all!:
6. Modulate your tone of voice
Does your voice modulate nicely? Or does it sound more monotone /monotonous? – in other words, the same tone all the way through, which you dont want! Sometimes, partcicularly when we are nervous and presenting something, our voices can tend to become even more monotone than usual, so it’s even more important to think about varying the tone of your voice. If you’ve started to use your diaphragm and are centering your voice, in other words, you’ve now got more control over it, it should make it easier to moderate your tone of voice.
7. Make your voice sound more authoritative
It may well be that you already have a great authoritative speaking voice and, if so, skip this one! If not, try listening to people that you admire for being able to get their messages across well and who exude confidence. If you think that you fall into a type of voice that currently lacks authority, I would suggest that you try to deepen it. Does your voice have enough depth to it? Is it deep enough? We tend to take notice of people more when they use a deeper, more resonant voice than those who have a lighter, quieter, or whiney type of voice. Those with those deeper, more resonant vocal tones are those that you are more likely to listen to and believe. This is because they have learnt to centre their voice. They may have been lucky and been born with it, but more likely it stems from confidence, background, geographical location and/or upbringing.
This one could also be part of 7. Authoritative, as those speakers we tend to listen to and take notice of as being authoritative, usually pace their phrasing really well, and speak slightly more slowly than others. The same is also true of those who physically take the space they are occupying, and their bodies move in a more measured, slow, regal, style. You don’t see the Queen of England scurrying about her duties do you?! Actually, her voice pitch is slightly higher, but because both her speaking and bodily movements and posture are slow and measured, she gets away with it – plus her status speaks for itself!
If you’re preparing to voice your video but have in the past had concerns about being taken seriously when you present yourself, try to implement the above suggestions. I know that, if you’re not used to producing a richer, deeper sound, you’ll probably feel a bit silly at first. The other thing is, if you are in this category, you may be thinking ‘I’m not sure that going through all this effort is really going to make a difference’, then try this experiment – it works every time. Call someone who doesn’t know you and make a request for something, or to persuade them to take a particular action. I don’t mean make a weird phone call to a stranger, but it could be your utility supplier to check on a bill payment that you have in your in-tray, or any other company for example that you may have a query with but haven’t yet called. When you get on the phone, speak using your deeper, richer, centred voice at all times. If you do this correctly, and listen to the response of the person at the other end of the phone, I think that you will find you will a) get your message across better and b) you will get better results from your request or query – and faster. Don’t forget to modulate the tone of your voice to keep it friendly, warm and polite, as you’re even less likely to achieve your aim! Notice how both a) and b) are exactly what you want to achieve in your online video?
Alternatively, you could use a specialist voice-over artist for your online video, instead of doing it yourself. The sample audio track below contains clips from recent corporate voice over work:
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