Although I’ve produced many multimedia projects — both for fun and for profit — until recently I had never worked with a voiceover artist. I had to incorporate voice work into an online tutorial — and I was given the chance to have input into the script, how the recording was done, and so on. Here’s what I learned.
- Before you pass the script on to a voiceover artist, read it aloud. If you find yourself catching your breath, try to edit the script so that it sounds more natural when read aloud. A good voiceover artist will be able to read even challenging scripts and make them sound good, but you shouldn’t be putting lipstick on a pig.
- Does your client have any sense of the amount of time the script takes to read? Imagine my surprise when I was given a script for a “three-minute tutorial” and it actually took ten minutes to read. Save yourself heartache (and lost fees, if you’re in the freelance boat) by road-testing the script and making sure all parties understand its length.
- Give the voiceover artist some sense of the action. It is easier to incorporate pauses into a voice track as it is being recorded than to edit the track afterwards.
- Make sure the script is final before you send it for recording. Re-dos are expensive if you’re working with a professional, and annoying even if you’re working with an amateur.
- Consider using music in the background. There are many loops of stock audio available at sites like istockphoto.com, and many voiceover artists can help advise you on their selection. Half the documentaries you see on cable TV use this kind of background music — why shouldn’t you? Just make sure that the music fits the material and that there is a good balance of sound — the narration is presumably the important part of the sound, not the synths or guitars (sorry, synth and guitar players).