Timing Is Everything
If you are going to be recording a voice over in the studio, whether in a professional facility or your own home studio, you have got to have good flow and good cadence in your script reading to be believable. Understanding sentence structure plays a big role in the timing of your delivery.
Just as important as having a sense of timing is having a sense of TIME, in other words, to get a sense of the actual length of the script.
Our World Needs Heroes
There are very talented people in the industry writing excellent copy for a number of different brands, and these people are often expected to be exceptionally creative. That can’t always be easy when you are limited to 60, 30 or even 15 seconds.
They are also faced with the demands of the client that may insist on certain phrases or products that must be in the copy. Add that to not yet knowing who your voice talent is going to be and at what speed they will actually be reading the script.
Here is where you have a chance to be the hero no matter what kind of studio you are working in.
Make sure you’re not this guy and don’t let this happen in your session!
Do Your First Read For Time
If you are working in a commercial studio you can simply ask the engineer to put a clock on you right from the start. Most of the time we do but we might be busy setting levels, so don’t be afraid to suggest it. I would actually say that you should make it clear to everyone that you are going to do a read for time so that you don’t get interrupted in the middle of the script by the producer or the engineer.
Then, when the engineer is ready, start reading and DON’T STOP. Even if you make a mistake, DON’T STOP. If you stumble, don’t go back to the beginning of the sentence. Keep going through the script as if everything is perfect and try keeping a natural pace all the way until the end.
Here’s The Thing: Everybody Makes Mistakes
All the professionals make mistakes, and let me tell you, they make plenty of them. Mistakes are part of the process and it will not be avoided no matter how good you are. But this is where people just starting out in the industry get intimidated and embarrassed and freeze. And they start to apologize and make excuses and fumble around.
You’re the only one that’s worried about it. It is a natural part of recording anything. Get as much of it out of the way as you can with the first read. Make all your mistakes right off the top.
There are so many benefits to this that everyone can gain from right at the start of the session.
- If you continue reading all the way through, not taking the time to stop, point out and then dwell on anything you may have stumbled over, it will actually save you from any embarrassment . After you have just mentioned that you are reading for time, no one is going to be focusing on your read, we will only be concerned with how long the script is.
- It will immediately be obvious if the script is too long or too short, so if copy needs to be cut or added it can happen right away. This is especially important if a phone call needs to be made to the client or copywriter and waiting is involved in getting an answer.
- It will save you the headache of many takes of trying to get the perfect first sentence or paragraph before moving on to the next line. This happens all the time because an engineer or producer might get caught up with having you inflect a certain way before you get all the way through the script. You may also avoid wasting time on copy that may not even be in the final edit.
- You will quickly be familiar with what you need to do for every aspect of the script for the next run through. There is a saying in the industry that you should “intentionally blow your fist take because it will tell you the right thing you need to do next”.
- It will avoid fatigue on your voice so you are not worn out before you get to the tag line, allowing for more consistent takes in case editing needs to be done.
- You will look and feel like a true professional for having the knowledge and taking the initiative to make this the first step in the recording process to insure a smooth running session. Every person in the studio will also feel their confidence go up for having hired you and getting to work with someone of your expertise.
- And most importantly, it increases the profit margin for everyone involved, especially if there is a fixed rate for any of the services in the production process, like your talent fees.
It’s Just Good Practice
Now, I am not saying that this should be solely the voice talents responsibility. A good producer or engineer will usually take this crucial first step in the process, but sometimes chaos and delays before a session can cause this element to be overlooked.
The more you know about the recording and editing aspects of the industry, the better impression you will make on the people that can get you more work.
This is not just for the commercial studio environment either, you will benefit from practicing this important first step even if you are in your home studio working alone or with a producer or engineer over a phone patch.
Let’s Take This One More Time
When you need to do a voice over in the studio, prevent that nightmare where focus is put on the read through partial take after partial take, only to find an hour later that the script is too short or too long.
Make it known that your first read will be for time and read all the way through, ignoring your mistakes, and you will know right away if copy needs to be cut or added.
If it is your first time working with the client, their first impression will be one of a seasoned and professional voice talent. It could be an important part of your session that gets you called back for the next job.
I hope this has helped you in how you approach your first take. Do you have any grueling session stories? Is there any way you could have made it easier? Drop me a comment below and share your story!