By Dan Friedman
This blog post is for everyone who uses voiceover talent in their productions. A voice talent’s job is to communicate the message of your script. But what else should you expect from the talent you choose? How do you prefer that the talent go about assisting you with achieving your goals? Other than being great communicators, what can the talent bring to your production that adds value and makes your recording session great?
What is most important to you:
Q: Do you like to allow the voice talent to give their interpretation of a script, or do you prefer to direct them first?
Professional voice talent are trained to interpret a script and use the words as a road map. The words usually determine the tone and delivery. Unless… they don’t. You can allow the voiceover talent to follow the map, or ask the talent to explore other paths.
Q: Do you prefer to hear several different deliveries?
Going into a recording session, you may not have a good idea of what the exact tone of your script should be. It could be very effective delivered in several ways. Asking your voice talent to offer a variety of options may allow you to discover a bit of magic you hadn’t thought of or help you make a final decision as to what delivery works best.
Q: Do you prefer the talent you are working with to deliver the script completely or do you prefer to massage each line and piece together the “perfect” read?
Reading a script straight through, or at least large sections in a single pass, allows the voice talent to maintain tone and pace. This will usually result in a more consistent and cohesive read. When necessary, the talent can pick up lines afterward to get the nuance you may be listening for if they didn’t get it on the first pass. With the assistance of your session’s audio engineer, you can have the best lines edited together quickly to see how they work together as a whole.
Q: Do you choose a talent based on voice quality alone?
Every voice talent has different strengths. Some are best suited for announcer reads, while others shine in more conversational or character roles. If you cast based on voice quality alone you may have mixed results when you get into the studio. This is where casting directors, who know the abilities of the voice talent, can help you choose the best voice for the job.
Q: Do you find it helpful if a voice talent has the ability to actively assist you with your script, whether it be grammatically or with overall tone and flow?
Professional voice talent learn to become good copy editors. Whether the problem is length of copy, grammar, or a scripts tone and flow, the voice talent you hire may have suggestions that can improve the final product. If your voice over script isn’t sounding right and you can’t put your finger on it, ask the talent for help.
You may find it helpful to ask yourself these questions as you begin each project. There is no doubt that your level of experience with voiceover production may determine some, or all of the answers. Furthermore, everyone chooses a voice based on different needs and what is appropriate for each project. But the answers to these questions could help you decide which voice talent is best for your current or future projects.
There are many voices available and often voice quality is not the number one factor in your choice. If you have narrowed your choices down to two talent and you know that no matter who you choose, the delivery would be great; would the answers to these other questions make a difference in who gets the job? Only you can decide. So, what else do you want from your voiceover talent?