Whether you work with nonprofessional corporate executives who want to share a company's message or a seasoned voice talent you want to get the best possible performance you can for your client. I'm going to share with you some tips and tricks that I've picked up while sitting alongside some great directors over the past 30 years.
As a director you know that doing your job requires skills like good communication, leadership and diplomacy. Getting the most from your voiceover talent demands you put those skills to work.
Part One addresses working with professional VO talent.
Using a professional voice talent may seem easy. You've selected a pro and all you need to do is send over a completed and approved script, right? Not so fast. Rule number one is to be involved in the narration process. In this day of online voice talent resources it is easy to think that you can just listen to a few VO demos, send off a script and wait for the end result. Not participating in the process is abdicating your role as a director. The results may not come as you planned and may involved extensive retakes.
It is ideal if you can take the talent into a studio and direct the session. At the very least, whether you use a studio or the talent has a home studio setup, arrange to listen in to give feedback while the talent records their VO.
Before you come to the VO session be prepared to tell the talent who the intended audience is, the mood of the program, where the major transitions are, and how to pronounce any unusual words or names. Then use the acronym P.A.V.E. to give the talent an idea of Pacing, Attitude, Volume and Energy you expect from their read.
As the recording session goes along, don't be hesitant to stop for retakes if the talent has stumbled on a word or two. Also stop if you feel the talent is losing his or her energy. You are in charge. But please do not go to the other extreme and micromanage every sentence. Nothing throws a narrator off like a lot of interruptions. Let the talent bring their own 'reality' to the presentation--even if it seems they are not verbalizing something exactly the way you might.
Another common misstep is to give 'line reads' to the talent. You may hear something in your head as you are saying it but it usually doesn't come out of your mouth the way you think it does. It is best to guide the talent using directive words to get the inflection you want.
Giving positive feedback is another important part of the process. Your performers, professional or non-pro, all have egos. It is much more motivational to give positive guidance and praise during the session. The talent will react more favorably and be willing to work harder if you keep them enthused and energized. Plus, you'll get a better delivery and a few other things to make voice-over recording sessions run smoothly. Format your script for ease of reading (see the MCAI article VO Script Formatting Tips by Travis).
Also consider the environment that the voice talent is working in: is there enough lighting; does the talent have a comfortable stool and an adjustable copy stand to hold the copy; is there room enough to move their hands and arms while they speak?
Even the seemingly little things can go a long way to make the process as smooth and professional as possible - resulting in a great narration session for everyone involved.
Coming in Part Two: Working with nonprofessional talent - corporate executives and subject matter experts.
--Tim Keenan,Creative Media Recording
copyright 2010 by Tim Keenan
Tim Keenan is owner of Creative Media Recording www.creativemediarecording.com - providing voiceover recording, audio production for video and new media and ISDN connection to voices and studios around the world. Tim provides tips & tricks for audio for video on Twitter @Soundtrack_Pro.