How to direct a Voice Artist
The do's and don'ts of what to say
Voice artists are sensitive folk. They demand careful handling. So, if you’re going to be working with a voiceover professional you need to know the following things.
What I’m about to tell you will enable you to have a very successful session with the voice artist. Keep these 10 points in mind.
1. Make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve in your voiceover recording session. If you’re not clear, it’s very hard to communicate your desired outcome to the voice artist clearly. You need to be properly prepared with a good script and be on time, ready to rock.
2. Make sure your script is written in normal upper and lower case. The way you would normally read something in a book. It's very difficult for the voice artist to read all UPPERCASE. Also make sure that the font size is 14 point or bigger. Giving a voice artist a script in tiny front will drive them nuts.
3. Allow the voice artist to give you their first impression of the script before you give them direction. You might be surprised at the interesting way they present the work.
4. Once the voice artist has given you the initial read of your script, feel free to start giving them directions, particularly if you’d like them to take a different approach.
5. When giving directions be polite. Voice artists are not idiots. They are creative artists who wish to deliver your work to your utmost satisfaction. Sometimes it's hard to hide your feelings if the voice artist hasn't given you what you want the first time around. Resist the temptation to sound negative. It will show up in your voice. Just give the voice artist a new direction and work it from there.
6. If the voice artist is not capturing what you want, one quick way of getting them to deliver, is to read the lines yourself and then ask them to deliver what they’ve just heard. However, be cautious with this approach, because if you tell the voice artist exactly how to do it from the get-go, you will find that you might be missing out on an interpretation that they could bring to you that might be better than your own. (That's why you hired them right :)
7. After a few takes, it is a good idea to play back the recording to everyone in the sound booth, including the voice artist. That way, everyone can hear what’s going on accurately, and also understand the basis for some further directions that you might make to things that you’ve all heard. It’s much easier to communicate something to the voice artist if they can hear it themselves as well. Sometimes voice artists don’t realise what they’ve actually said and how they’re sounding. So, it’s a very good idea to play them back in their headphones so they can hear what you’re hearing.
8. A voice artist worth their salt, will just get on with the job and quickly deliver what you want. Once in a while you’ll find a voice artist (who’s often an actor) will want to do take after take, seeking perfection. Don’t allow this. It’s a waste of time. If you’ve got what you want, leave it at that.
9. At the end of a voiceover session, you’ll want to get on with postproduction and working with the recording engineer to tidy up the spot. Let the voice artist go if you don’t need them anymore. Even though they’re booked by the hour, if they’ve delivered what you want in the first 10 minutes, just let them go and continue on with the rest of the production of your spot. Some people like to hold onto the voice artist until the end of the hour, and the voice artist will be quite willing to do that, however it’s usually totally unnecessary. If you know how to get a good recording and you have a good recording engineer and you’ve taken several good takes of what you need, you're good to go...and so are they.
10. If you need to redo your recording at a later date because of a change of script or something, expect to pay the voice artist for that. You are paying them for their time as well as their talent. You will usually be offered a slightly discounted rate. In Australia, voiceover rates for legitimate artists are protected by the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA). Sure, you can get a discount voiceover online somewhere, but why bother when you can get the best right here.
Good luck with your productions in the future. We at Voiceover.com.au are here to help you and will deliver the best customer service you will ever find! Try us.