If The Script Read Is A Shot In The Dark,
Ask Your Client These 10 Questions ...
By Lisa Rice
If you've ever painted a room, you know that prepping, detail work and clean-up afterward can often take more time than actual painting. Voice over is much the same.
Some project directors prefer to listen in during a recording session. Others like to review the script on the phone.
And still others choose to send copy without any conversation beforehand. While this option takes less time up front, it can also be lacking. It's like a shot in the dark for both parties.
Asking your client to specify a few things up front when sending the finalized script can save more time in the long run. And as the saying goes, time is money.
Keep in mind, the following directions can be included in the body of an email or recorded and attached as an mp3. Whatever works best.
1. FIND THE RIGHT STYLE
Ask your client to listen to your demos to find a part that best matches what they're looking for.
They also might know of an online video with a read similar to what they have in mind and can send a link to the video.
2. HOW MUCH ENERGY?
Have them look at their script as a car ride and consider the drive they want viewers/listeners to take.
If their script has a problem and solution, energy might be low at the beginning but higher when introducing the solution.
Perhaps they want a luxury feel. Then energy should stay even throughout.
Are they partial to conversational reads? No problem. And, of course, they should always have the option of a "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" read.
3. FAST OR SLOW PACING?
If they were driving the Autobahn, which phrases or words would be the straightaways and which would be curves? Straightaways should be voiced at a quicker pace. Curves need to be negotiated with a little more care.
If the voice over is for video, less time might be spent on words since they'll be backed up by visuals - web addresses or telephone numbers, for instance.
If it's for an audio only, these particulars may need a little more time. Ask them what they consider important. Is the music bed already chosen? Request that they send a snippet or online link.
4. WHERE TO PLACE EMPHASIS?
The company or product name is typically where emphasis should be placed, but there are other parts of a script that might call for special attention. This might include slogans, catch phrases or a hook line that corresponds with another part of the script.
They might be found at the beginning and end or sprinkled throughout. See if they know what they want in this area, too.
5. INFLECTION DIRECTION
Do they want certain words to be voiced on a down note, up note or straight through?
If they aren't quite sure, offer to voice extra takes so they'll have plenty to work with.
6. MANY WAYS TO PRONOUNCE
After reviewing the script, make a note of the following preferences before firing up your mic:
Numbers: 1,300 - one thousand three hundred or thirteen hundred?
Years: 2013 - two thousand thirteen or twenty thirteen?
Acronyms: ASCAP - A-S-C-A-P or AS-CAP?
Street addresses: 1942 Main Street - one nine four two Main Street or nineteen forty-two Main Street?
Phone numbers: 1-800-301-1942 - one eight hundred, three zero one, one nine four two or one eight hundred three zero one nineteen forty-two?
Names: Buena Vista - bwena bista or byoona vista?
Dollar and cents: $33.16 - thirty-three sixteen or thirty-three dollars and sixteen cents?
Word preferences: associates - uh-so-she-uhts or uh-so-see-uhts
7. WHAT FILE FORMAT?
In addition to asking whether your customer wants an AIFF, WAV or mp3 with a particular bit depth and sample rate, ask them how they'd like the file to appear.
One way for shorter scripts to be edited is to voice a complete take followed by three successive ones of each sentence or section. When opening the file, they'll see one long take followed by silence with a series of three short ones.
And by the way, does the file need to be named in a specific way? You'll need to know how.
8. WHEN TO BREATHE
Should breaths be left in, diminished, replaced with room ambiance or silenced?
Know this ahead of time so nothing is deleted that might need to be used.
9. WHAT'S THE DEADLINE
What kind of turnaround time is expected?
Some projects need to be sent back as soon as possible, while others can wait a week. Agreeing to this ahead of time helps ensure customer satisfaction.
10. CONFIRM TO COMPLETE THE JOB
Email communication can be tricky. Meeting an agreed upon deadline is useless if the file isn't received on time or at all. Servers go down. Emails can unfortunately end up in spam folders. Firewalls can be over aggressive.
Once your customer has received the audio, had a chance to review and approve it and is ready to move forward with the next phase of their project, ask them to take a moment to confirm.
This is a quick and easy way to signal that the voice over collaboration process is complete - and one that everyone can look back on as a job well done.
Lisa Rice landed her first voice over job at the age of 18. She's worked as a writer, television and radio producer and on-camera talent. Her one-to-one broadcast interviews have extended from the White House and Capitol Hill to Nashville. Shes voiced commercials, narrations, e-learning projects, promos and telephone prompts for a wide range of customers. Recent projects include GE, AT&T, Walmart, Tempur-Pedic, McGraw Hill and Nationwide Insurance.
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