I love a good sandwich, grinder, hoagie, sammy, or whatever name it goes by. Think of how many varieties there are of “stuff between slices of bread”. In fact, it might not even be bread! It could be a wrap. Or just lettuce (I consider that a sandwich). If you walked up to your local sub shop, and said “Make me a sandwich that tastes good, and not bad.” Where would the crafter of that fine grinder start? What kind of bread do you want? Do you like mayo or mustard? What kind of mustard? Oil or vinegar? Meat? No meat? Cheese choices? No cheese? There are probably thousands of varieties (or more) of sandwiches. Each one can be tailored to your specific taste. Creating a voice over project can be the same way. Here are a few rules that will help you get the tastiest audio for your project!
- Read your script out loud. It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes I get scripts that have a lot of filler words (“like” “that”, or saying “it is” as opposed to “it’s”). The spoken word is different than the written word. Say it out loud to yourself or a colleague. If you or your buddy thinks it sounds odd, then a voice talent will sound odd.
- Get Correct Pronunciations in line before you send the final script. There are so many varieties of pronunciation for names, towns, streets, businesses, etc… Just because you think it’s natural to say it one way, doesn’t mean your voice talent will think the same. Little things like numbers can get us in trouble. Is 2015 said “twenty-fifteen”, “two-thousand fifteen”, or “two zero one five”?
- Set deadlines. This might seem self-explanatory, but while some voice over projects can be done quicker, than say a motion graphic animation, we still need deadlines. Work with your talent to make sure they can deliver according to your timeline. It’s also important to set pickups/revision deadlines as well.
- Find out the audio format and quality that works best for the final delivery. WAV, MP3, AIFF, AAC, OGG; if you don’t know, just ask! Sometimes a voice actor will know what format works best for your client or project. BTW – There is a difference between format and quality. Format is the file type. Quality is how compressed or uncompressed it is. You can also ask the people that are actually producing the project in post to see what they prefer. For me, it’s very easy to give different formats since I use Pro Tools. However, knowing the quality you need helps setup the session in the beginning to ensure it’s recorded at the highest level.
- Direct your voice actor! This one is often overlooked but sooooooo important. Those of us with a home studio normally offer a bunch of different options for direction. You can sit at the comfort of your desk and listen in while a voice talent records. This helps eliminate the guess work by your talent on how you want certain things emphasized or pacing. In fact, most voice talent want to be directed! I personally offer ipDTL, Source Connect Now, Skype, and a phone patch. I’ve even done voiceovers with GoToMeeting! Those sessions can eliminate pickups and revisions, which gets the project done faster!
Doing these 5 things when hiring a voice actor will go a long way to get you the best project, smoothly and quickly. Remember, just because you know how you like your sandwich doesn’t mean the one who’s making it does. It takes partnership, good clear direction, and planning to make your next voice over project delicious! Now I’m off to get a grinder!