Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Communication is gold ("Tell me what you want... pretty please.")

 I've been recording voice overs for quite some time and have recorded for many different types of projects. If you're working with a first time client/customer, it's really important to chat a bit and ask them what type of read they want for their copy; corporate voice, casual/conversational, instructional tone, etc.. And you do this BEFORE you step to the microphone. Certainly, as you look at their copy, you can take cues from the way it's written. But remember, there are almost always multiple ways to voice the copy. And neither may be wrong. Try and save yourself a headache or two and ask before you record. Some clients will be very specific with their direction and take away the guessing factor on your part. Some will give you initial direction and then change their minds midstream after they hear a take or two from you. And some will have no clue as to what they want. I try to never assume anything. ASK!

I once recorded a script for an engineering firm out of San Antonio. My voice over would be used for a video promoting their services; a marketing video. Copy was emailed to me and I recorded here in my home studio. I asked the producer from the agency who was working for the firm how he heard the voice over. Did we want to go with a professional corporate tone of voice or a more casual read? He indicated he wanted a corporate tone of voice. So, I recorded a take with that in mind and emailed the voice over to him with a download link. As a voice over talent, there's usually a waiting period to hear back from them with their feedback. Sometimes within the hour... or sometimes next day. Don't be paranoid if it takes them some time to give you feedback. There can be a number of "chiefs" behind the scene weighing in. The producer got back to me and said it sounded good but asked if I could make it  more local.  I'm thinking, "More local? What's that suppose to mean?" In all my years of taking direction, I've never heard "more local." I thought maybe he wants it less corporate voice and kind of less polished sounding. I went with that in mind. Eventually, he liked what he heard on the third or fourth take. But he was having a bit of trouble conveying to me exactly what he wanted from me. No doubt, it can be frustrating. Keep your cool. It becomes a bit of a guessing game on your part. Then you'll have the client who has no idea what he/she wants and will tell you something like, "Oh, I'll know it when I hear it." This type of non-direction can mean multiple takes, and frankly, can drive you nuts. Your time is valuable and you likely have other jobs to record. "I'll know it when I hear it" is really not acceptable direction at all. ALWAYS ask before you record. Communication is key. Never assume!


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