Here I’ll explain how to do voice overs. It is not as easy as it sounds. But if you are a client wanting to save a few dollars or you’re interested in getting into voice over work you will find these pages helpful. My experience comes from three decades of voice work on both sides of the microphone.
It all Starts with the Script
You really need a good script. And a word of warning – you must read your script out loud before you attempt to record it. What is written may read perfectly well – but when spoken out loud it may sound a bit odd. Be prepared to change on the fly.
A script with double spacing and in Georgia 14 point is much easier to read than single spacing and in Arial 10 point. When reading the script you want to be able to concentrate on your delivery without the hassles of trying to read a font that doesn’t flow or is too small.
When you rehearse mark pauses throughout and check with the writer or producer that your pausing won’t affect the read. Sometimes pausing in the wrong places can change the meaning.
Is Your Voice OK?
Or more importantly will your audience find your voice ok. If you are voicing something to do with your work – make it sound good. If you want to gain customers or keep your current ones, make sure it sounds good. If it is for an audition make sure it sounds good.
Most times it is not the sound of your voice – it is the way you read the script. There will be work for your type of voice you just need to polish your delivery. And practice.
How to do Voice Overs – Warm Up
Before you attempt to voice anything warm up. You can’t expect to be in top shape if you haven’t practiced. Those vocal chords are the same as any instrument – make sure they are in tune. If you have never done a voice over before – you had some work to do. But it is fun and a tool you can use over and over again.
Put some SMILE into Your Delivery
It is very important to SMILE when you read – it will feel strange but it changes the sound of the voice to a much more friendly read. Move your arms and body to deliver the best sound possible. Think of yourself as an actor on stage.
Buy Some Equipment
If you are serious get a good microphone, headphones, pop-guard, a pre-amp and a computer. You can’t expect your voice to sound great if you are using inferior equipment. The best voice over microphone for me is a RODE NT3. My pre-amp is a Tube Ultragain MIC200. I also bought a pop guard and cables off Ebay – and how did I choose them? I called an online voice studio and asked what recommendations they give their voice artists.
If you are doing a one-off a ZOOM Digital Recorder is great. Although I connect a RODE NTG-3 to it when I am in the field. This is mostly for video productions. I’d hesitate using my mobile phone for recording but as a last resort some offer a pretty good sound.
If you like a particular sound you hear on television ring the studios or production company and ask for the producer or the audio engineer. I did this after watching a program that specialised in street interviews – Front-Up with Andrew Urban. The engineer was more than helpful and he explained how he bought and why he bought the SHURE VP64AL. Audio engineers are left in the background and when an outsider gives them praise they get warm and fuzzy.
If you are recording at home ensure your levels are set right – I record my voice between -6 and -12 db.
Don’t gauge your levels by what you hear – yes, that is very important but the actual levels will make or break your recording. Too high or too low and you will have nightmares trying to fix – “you can’t make a purse out of a sow’s ear” comes to mind. If you are in the “red” nothing will fix it.
Build a Sound Room
Whilst this is not absolutely necessary for the one off it is suggested if you intend doing this on a regular basis. Now before you make the kids leave home early and convert their bedroom there are many easy ways to do this. Find a space, storeroom, under the stairs or even a shed – then soundproof with some bedding. But if you have a lot of money and want to create a space you’ll need to search further. There are many starving musicians who will rent their studio space for a few dollars. Many times they have all the equipment too and may even produce for you. But don’t let them take charge of your project. Again, you have to live with the end result – the producer is only part of your life for a few hours.
If you are thinking of a home studio for voice production let your earnings build your studio. Start small.
Knowing how to do voice overs is only the start. The best way to move ahead is to start doing them. Offer your services for free. Find a mentor. Get a voice coach – preferably a drama teacher. And practice, practice and do more practice.