So, you’ve got a killer video that’s going to knock your audience’s socks off; now all you need to do is match that with some fantastic audio to add the finishing touch. To make any video project look professional, you need both elements to be excellent – if either is lacking, you’re going to come across as an amateur.
With that in mind, here are ten tips for capturing amazing video voice overs:
If a professional studio is out of your budget, find the best spot in your house to record. Read the script aloud in each room and listen carefully to find out if any rooms are suitable. Listen out for any problems that are easily fixed, such as reverb (use a hyper-cardoid mic) or ‘dead’ sound (try removing those super heavy curtains that absorb all of the sound).
No matter how far away you hold the script while you’re recording your voiceover, it’s likely that you’ll still be able to hear the paper rustling. Invest in a book stand that will hold your script still. Also, factor in the breaks to your script – print it off in a way that each section can be displayed without having to turn the page.
You’ll want to avoid plosive and sibilance – these are the posh words for the popping and hissing noise you sometimes hear during recordings with words beginning with ‘P’ or with ‘S’ in them. So, it’s a great idea to invest in a pop filter, which is a shield that sits between the speaker and the microphone. Pop filters cost around $10-25.
However, if you want to test whether you actually need one, try out your microphone with the ‘popcorn / seashell’ test. Listen back to a recording of yourself saying these words to see if you can hear any popping or hissing.
To get the best vocals from your speaker, you’ll need their mouth to be slightly wet. However, endless sips of water could lead to more time spent in the bathroom than in front of the microphone! A great tip is to keep a tart apple (such as a Granny Smith) on hand. A bite will clear the decks, so to speak, and your performer’s vocals will sound crystal clear.
Recording your vocals ‘deaf’ and hoping to fix any issues in the editing suite is a recipe for disaster. A good pair of headphones or monitoring speakers are just as important as a decent microphone. You’ll pick up detail that you might have missed otherwise, and you can monitor the quality much more closely. It’s probably going to be much easier to retake the recording than to try to edit out imperfections later.
Though your script may read beautifully on the page, it could be a totally different ball game when you’re reading it aloud. Keep it concise, and easy to pronounce. Then, make sure that you practise reading it a few times before giving it to any performers.
Just because your voiceover artist has collapsed into a fit of giggles, or the mic is playing up, doesn’t mean that the whole project is doomed to fail. Take a deep breath, and assess the situation. Sometimes taking a short break will make all the difference.
Though paying for a professional voiceover artist is, unsurprisingly, likely to yield more professional results, if this is your first project and your budget is limited then it might be worth considering getting in touch with a local college or university. Media students are likely to be looking for work experience, and if you can offer them something that will look good on their CV they may just do the job for free. However, if possible try to give them something for their hard work – whether it’s a thank you gift or the promise of a great reference, they should be rewarded for helping you out.
The worst thing that could happen once you’ve worked so hard at creating the audio would be to have to start again from scratch, so make sure you save your work properly. If you’re going to be doing lots of filming and recording, it might be wise to invest in an external hard drive and back up your work regularly.
Both you as producer and your voiceover artist (or, if you’re the same person, just you) need to dress for the occasion. The recording studio, wherever it may be, could get hot and stuffy or be too cold, and either way the recording will suffer due to the speaker feeling uncomfortable. Dress in layers so that you can easily cool down or warm up without interrupting the session for too long.