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HUMOR
10 Things Voice Over Directors Say
... And What They REALLY Mean


By Billy James
Voice Actor

Verbal shorthand can be a useful time-saver during a recording session. But it only works if you and your VO director have the same understanding of what that shorthand means.

In the interest of improved efficiency, here’s a quick list of phrases commonly encountered in the voice trade, and how the various parties at a session interpret them.

1. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Nice to meet you. Love your demo.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS:
"Nice to meet you. Love your demo."

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"My first choice for this job had a category conflict. I haven’t heard your demo.”

2. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Let’s do a quick run-thru just to get a feel for it.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"I can’t wait to hear your interpretation.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"No human being on Earth has ever read this script out loud, so I have absolutely no idea how long it is.”

3. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Hit that a little harder.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"Give that line just a touch more emphasis.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Think ‘Gilbert Gottfried doing a Toyotathon spot.’"

4. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Do less with it.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"No need to push it. Let the copy speak for itself.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Cheer down, Mork - we’re not doing Happy Feet 3 here.”

5. WHAT THEY SAY:

"I kinda like that thing you did on the second take. Gimme another one of those.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"You were right, I was wrong. Go back to your original interpretation.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Let's back up to the point just before you went completely off the rails.”

6. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"We need to shave a couple of seconds off.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"Pick up the pace slightly and we should be fine."

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Just got a text message from the agency. This thing was written as a :60, but it’s actually supposed to be a :30.”

7. WHAT THEY SAY: 

"Give me a quick 3-in-a-row on that line.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"We’re really close. One of these is gonna be exactly what we need.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Give me anything other than what you’ve been giving me for the last 6 takes.”

8. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Interesting. But we’re kinda tight already.”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"I really love that idea. But the copy is a little too long to really do it justice.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"No, no, no. What is is wrong with you?”

9. WHAT THEY SAY: 

"Got anything else you’d like to try?”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"Your instincts have been so good today, you might have a real gem I hadn't even thought of. Go for it.”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"Please don’t say you’ve got something else you’d like to try."

10. WHAT THEY SAY: 
"Okay - I think we’ve got it!”

WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: 
"You nailed it!”

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: 
"SmartCast Invitation, here we come!” 

ABOUT BILLY ...

Billy James is a longtime voice actor based in Charlotte, NC. He’s also the co-host of Premiere’s syndicated John Boy & Billy morning radio show. (But try not to hold that against him.) For a slightly skewed take on news from the world of VO, check out billyvoice.com/blog.

Email: billy@billyvoice.com
Web: http://billyvoice.com

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Comments (9)
Bruce Lehnus
6/9/2016 at 3:27 PM
#6. That's all I have to say. #6.
Paul Strikwerda
1/17/2012 at 7:25 AM
Loved it, Billy! We've all been there and heard this type of double-talk. Why can't directors just be straight with us?
Dan Nelson
1/16/2012 at 9:12 AM
What they say:
"Now that you've got your rhythm how about once more from the top."
What you think it means:
"You're really in the groove, this next one will be perfect."
What it really means:
"Oh man, I forgot to hit record!"

Great stuff Billy, thanks for sharing.
Dan
Rowell Gormon
1/14/2012 at 2:39 PM
...great stuff, Billy. But you left out my dreaded favorite.

"Just Have Fun With It."

What you think it means: "Your brilliant improvisational skills and years of experience could bring added value to this project."

What it really means: "I have no clue what I want, but I'll know it when I hear it."

rg
Naomi McMillan
1/14/2012 at 10:24 AM
Hilarious.....thank you for the comic relief.
Jim Conlan
1/14/2012 at 8:59 AM
As a director, I think this is hilarious. And I mean that... no, really.
Debbie Irwin
1/14/2012 at 1:45 AM
Refreshingly spot on and funny to boot!
Just goes to show that what I see --
or in this case interpret -- depends on where I sit.

Thanks for the insights.

Debbie
Rick Lance
1/13/2012 at 1:31 PM
Funny stuff from Billy! Especially liked #6.

But for the purpose of maintaining my own sanity, I prefer to go on clinging to my thoughts that fall into the "What you think it means" portion.
jacqui fehl
1/13/2012 at 1:20 PM
Here's another thing they say:

" We want you to sound non-announcery, real person as if you are talking to a friend, relaxed and conversational, but we need lots of energy and you need to get this all in under 10 seconds, but don't sound rushed and you need to sound taller"

Thanks for the great post!
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