How Many Takes Does It Take
To Get It Right? Another View ...
January 6, 2014
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor and TV News Anchor
The main point of this article is not going to sit well with many - least of all the accomplished voice coaches Iíve worked with.
So, consider this point of view more as an idea Iím floating out there as a counter-argument to the school of thought that says you do as many voice over takes as you need until "it sounds rightĒ Ö or until "you get it rightĒ Ö even perfect
The idea that your first take may be your best take is tantamount to heresy for a good many seasoned, schooled, and mature voice talent.
The common wisdom follows this general thinking:
WHAT'S GOOD ENOUGH?
So let me ask you - knowing what a perfectionist you are (we all are): When is the take good enough?
A couple of years ago, I rented my studio out to one of the top actors/voice-actors in Denmark.
He was in town playing the World Series of Poker, and had a full film crew with him.
But a client back in Europe needed a re-take of one line for a spot, and his producer went hunting for an ISDN studio. My name popped up, and one afternoon he showed up at my door with his film crew.
Nice guy! I showed him the studio, how to operate things, and gave him a bottle of water. Remember, he was there to record ONE LINE.
Fifty-two minutes later, he emerged from the studio with something like 23 cuts of that one line Ö finally happy with the last one.
DOING IT LIVE
I shook my head in disbelief. Now, the other side of the coin.
This line of thinking will feel familiar to anyone whoís done live broadcasting. Radio. TV. Even live announcing at events: YOU ONLY GET ONE TAKE.
It better damn well be good. Necessity breeds intensity Ö even perfection (sometimes).
I remember when I got serious about voice over work. I was amazed that it was OK to do more than one take. Wow! What a concept! How cool!
But Ö Iím pretty happy with the first one, thank you Ö why should I do another?
KNOW YOUR COPY
Mind you, Iím not saying your read comes from the first time youíve seen the copy. Iím saying you only get one chance to deliver the line out-loud.
In this school of thought, you first analyze things pretty good. Edit the copy. Mark-up the copy - maybe even practice under your breath once or twice.
But the idea is that the first spoken take is the best take.
In favor of the "first takeĒ philosophy: It has the greatest first-time discovery of the words, itís the most innocent, and in many ways the most genuine.
Itís the one following closest to your comprehension of the clientís direction.
So, could it be that itís more the true you than the one that comes contrived from all that coaching youíve had?
If the first take is so bad, then why do so many voice over sages encourage us to get IMPROV experience? Lessee: you only get one take with improv, no?
WHAT TO DO?
Hey, all those coaches are telling you, what? Be the real YOU, right? Only YOU can bring to this spot the experience and savvy that is unique to you, so bring it.
Make it authentic the first time around and walk away. There I said it. Now, do I believe it?
Not entirely, but Iím more likely to trust my instincts with the first take, than second-guessing myself on to continuous re-takes into the night, with 5-10 more auditions waiting for my attention.
But then again, my first-take comes after 30+ years of continually doing ONE TAKE three times a day, five days a week in half-hour portions.
You can dismiss it as broadcast "newspeak" or puking in to the mic. But experience is an undeniably hard taskmaster, and Iíve learned my lessons well.
In last November's sweeps, all the newscasts that I anchor won their time-slots. Thatís not bragging, or even taking credit for such success - itís a team effort. But seeing as weíve won 18 of the last 23 ratings periods, I think I can own a little of that accommplishment as my contribution of an authentic "first-and-only-takeĒ to an audience appreciative of the fact that I didnít keep reading the line over and over till I got it right.
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology.
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