Take The Easy Way Out In A Script ...
Avoid Risks ... And Lose The Magic
July 1, 2014
By Christian Rosselli
We may take it for granted. We may not give it the utmost care it deserves.
No, this is not going to be about our country's stance on global warming or a vehement outcry to other countries' environmental policies. (Or a downer of an article.)
Yet the same type of neglect can be applied to voice over. Many voice talents don’t book jobs simply because they’re not focused on an integral part of the script: The Environment. They don't consider factors like people, place, time.
Put another way, the Who, What, When and Where of a script are vital, no matter the type of project.
Knowing this information makes us better informed about a project, better able to serve our clients, and do our jobs effectively so that both parties are satisfied.
CREATE UNIQUE WORLD
Each piece of copy - when they are simply raw words on a page, before the recording, editing and mixing - encapsulates a world. If you don’t know where you are in that world, how are your clients supposed to have faith in your abilities?
When was the last time you read an entire script (SFX, video notes, MUSIC, images, other VO parts) all the way through?
When was the last time you looked at the copy and immediately launched into what you thought the spot was supposed to sound like? Did it inform your read or spoil it?
Familiarity means getting into a comfort zone, if we're not careful.
SAME THING, NO RISK
Ok, so you've seen a particular style many times before. Whether it’s a commercial, corporate narration/industrial, explainer video or web promo, the mood can be very similar to a handful of others you’ve auditioned for or voiced.
The demographics, the target audience, the somewhat cheesy writing (it’s not all cheesy) that gives itself away - all occupies thought bubbles in your mind. You think to yourself, "I know what this sounds like," and thus you avoid the more important questions.
Time and again, voice talents will wonder, "Why should I take any risks?" Because she who takes those risks, who asks those questions, goes the longer way.
Yet the magic starts when we ask those important questions for ourselves, and let the people on the other side determine what it "sounds like.”
WHO ARE YOU?
First ask: Who am I, and who am I talking to?
Whether you’re reading the part of Dad, Mom, Creepy Uncle or the Narrator (I prefer this word over Announcer), this question should be at the top of your list.
For instance, as the Narrator, you might be guiding the piece, as a storyteller.
Or you perhaps you're talking directly to other people in the script - maybe someone you know, a close friend, loved one, or enemy.
WHAT, WHEN, WHERE?
What am I talking about? Is it food, technology, banking, medicine, primary care doctors, global warming or Saddam Hussein?
Being educated and informed on the subject makes a huge difference in the attitude one brings to a project.
When is it taking place? Morning, afternoon or night? Past, present or future?
Where am I? I’m in the booth for God’s sake, in front of the microphone! Yes, but seriously where in the script are you? Its not just words on a page.
NOW THE ENVIRONMENT
External factors play a large role, too.
For example, if this is a food commercial, are you on the deck by the grill or in the kitchen?
If it is a corporate narration, are you in a classroom lecturing students or at a podium in a park?
Imagine the sights, smells, sounds, temperature, music of your script's environment.
INVEST IN AUDITION & PROJECT
In short, go THAT far. A great deal of preparation and investment goes into every audition and project we work on.
Of course, analyzing a script to death may not apply to all instances, but the essentials clearly must be acknowledged. Dismissing them as perfunctory will have undesirable consequences.
Christian Rosselli is a voice over artist based in New York City who specializes in commercial, corporate and industrial narration, promo, explainer videos, and award show-live announcing. He has worked with a wide variety of companies including AT&T, Bic, Boeing, CA Technologies, M&T Bank, Premio Foods, Ruby Tuesday, Tiaa-Cref, USA Today and many more! He is also an avid photographer, coffee drinker, and jazz connoisseur.
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