Voice over performance is one of the most important aspects in creating the best production possible for visual and audio content with voice talent. A collaborative approach to the casting and recording processes aid in this endeavour, and the abilities and experience of the sound engineer and voice talent should always be taken advantage of to achieve this.
Voice Over Casting & Recording
When it comes to voice overs for visual and audio content, voice performance is one of the most important aspects that can make or break a production. The casting and recording processes are vital in ensuring that the project has the right tone and character, and that the message is conveyed effectively and appropriately, allowing us to connect with our audience. We feel that these processes are essential to creating great content, which is why we’ve provided some guidance and tips on the voice casting and recording steps of production.
Finding The Voice
The first step is to find the right voice to suit the project. This means that even during the conceptual stages, we need to be thinking about what the voices should sound like. Are they an exaggerated caricature, or a real person? Are they personable and warm, or bold and grandiose? Hearing the voice in our head while writing the script can help develop a mental “image” of what it should sound like in terms of voice timbre and tone.
When casting for voice talent, it isn’t much different to casting for visual content, in the way that we generally want to find someone that can really embody the character and not just perform it on a shallow level. Finding talent that is close to, or can relate to the character/narration, helps the performance feel more genuine to the audience.
MYOB – The Next Big Thing
This ad, “The Next Big Thing” for MYOB, presents a world set in the future with advanced technology.
The idea behind the narration was to find a voice that didn’t come from any specific place, but one that would have been influenced by advancements in globalisation in a utopian society. A ‘global’ voice that the viewer can’t place conveys ideas of innovation, and creates a sense of calm and intrigue that draws the audience in.
Collaborating with the Sound Engineer
The value of discussing and planning the production with the sound engineer prior to recording is often overlooked. Issuing the concepts and ideas behind the project to the sound engineer will help them understand which approach may be beneficial to take in production, in turn better executing the vision behind the content.
These pre-production discussions are often a great way to further flesh out ideas in a more practical sense. Based on the concepts within the script, the sound engineer can propose certain ideas or methods for which to execute them in the recording process. For example, this ad for the Heart Foundation warns of the possible signs of a heart attack occurring, in the context of a man who has passed away and wishes he could have his heart attack again to be able to prevent it.
Heart Foundation – Heart Attack Again
The voice performance has a certain tone that conveys that the main character is no longer alive. The voice is very up front, detached from the environment it’s in, with almost no background noise to accompany it. The voice direction and post-treatment give the soundscape a very muted and almost otherworldly feel, which sets the right tone for a topic that is quite sombre. This is an example of why it is important to collaborate with the sound engineer even before the recording process of the production, as their knowledge and experience can enable us to get the most out of voice casting, recording, and direction.
Collaborating with the Voice Talent
Just like the sound engineer, the voice talent is a crucial part of the recording process and can greatly benefit the production if collaborated with effectively. It is always important to brief the voice talent before going into the booth to record, provide context behind the script and elaborate on its intention. One of the most vital aspects to the recording process is allowing sufficient time for the talent to get comfortable with the script. This means providing enough time for them to put down a few ‘cold’ takes before they start taking any kind of direction, which allows them to get a feel for the wording and flow of the script.
When providing direction to the voice talent, it is important to be clear and concise to ensure that the talent can understand what we want to convey in the content. The script itself should not be completely reflective of written language, but more geared towards emphasising how words and sentences should be articulated – how the performer should speak. It can also be helpful to format the script in such a way that certain parts are emphasised, and connotations are added to provide more of a clear direction to the talent. Furthermore, it is a good idea to avoid “over-direction”; too many people providing their own creative input can cause confusion with the voice talent, making the process tedious and potentially resulting in a misdirected performance.
Allowing time for experimentation with alternate takes can be great at finding something unexpected that works well for the content. Experienced voice artists may be able to alter the performance slightly or try out other methods to play to their own strengths and experience, which may further enhance the performance. If there is enough time available during a recording session, it can be worth asking the talent if they would like to try something different and see where it may end up.
Overall, it is important to remember that the voice casting and recording processes are collaborative. The sound engineer and voice talent are there to aid in executing the best production possible for the content, and their abilities and experience should always be taken advantage of in voice casting and recording.