So, the script is written. The style is obvious, no direction needed. Right?
In theory, yes, you’re correct. Often it is obvious to an experienced voice over artist. But – & it’s a fairly big but – there may be things going on in your head & the way you’re hearing it read, that your voice over isn’t aware of.
I work with clients from all over the world. Some recording sessions are attended & some aren’t. Whether you’re sending direction in an email, or offering it verbally during a session, it’s important that your voice over knows what you’re aiming for. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some things can get lost in translation!
Perhaps you’re intending to be a bit disruptive? Maybe you’d like this fairly formal, corporate script read in a very conversational way? (Ideally it would be written in a conversational style, but we don’t live in an ideal world!)
I might think that the script for a particular commercial warrants a slow, moody read, but actually, you know that there isn’t time to linger.
After a speedy read, but don’t want it to sound speedy? (There are ways to deal with that. Usually, when we speed up, our pitch rises. So, if we lower it, the delivery will sound slower.)
Typical directions might read:
Informal, conversational, warm & friendly. Not announcery.
Formal, corporate, authoritative, announcer style.
Dreamy, ethereal, soft / whispered.
Or, as one script recently read: Neutral, fruity.
I’m not quite sure what the client meant by fruity, because this was a corporate e-learning script! But as, unusually, they’d actually given specific guidance with regard to pace (160 words per minute), I suspected they meant conversational.
Tone can inform the pace and vice versa. So, if you have something specific in mind, offering direction for tone, pitch and pace is really useful. There are many similarities to conducting an orchestra & to reading a score. Allegro, andante, soft, loud etc.
Obviously an essential element of the brief, is detailing who the audience is, because that too will inform the read.
One of the other elements that’s incredibly helpful for direction, but can be forgotten, is music. If you know which music you’re going to be using, or have a rough idea of the style, do send it to your voice over. Perhaps the music gives an idea of the tone, but actually the pace needs to be faster, or slower? Again, that’s all really useful information. Music can often it can communicate far more than words.
You may also have seen something on YouTube that offers a sense of what you’re aiming for. Again, send it to your voice over artist.
Some voice overs aren’t interested in seeing the storyboard, but I think it’s helpful, because again, pictures provide information. For example, animated explainers come in all shapes & sizes, as I discussed here. I might think the pictures accompanying the script are going to be dark & serious, when in fact they’re sketches of cats!
As you can see, there’s lots of room for interpretation when it comes to voice overs and a certain amount of freedom is important, too. After all, you aren’t just hiring a voice, you’re hiring the person that accompanies the voice and the riches that they bring to the work.
If in doubt, simply talk it through until you know that you’re both singing from the same script. I, for one, am always happy to chat.And if you’d like to read more about how to get the most out of your voiceover session, you’ll find a check list right here.