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The Voice of Reason

Voiceover production considers everything — from tone to timber.

In my last post, I introduced you to the basics of voiceovers — from how the industry has become remote-friendly, to choosing a voice that stands out in a crowd. In this post, I delve a little deeper into the creation of impactful videos.  

During VO recording sessions, audio studios typically interface with both clients and ad agencies. Some agencies are able to make decisions on behalf of the client, other clients prefer a more hands-on approach. It all starts with listening to demo samples of various talents from the web. This is usually enough, but if the client or agency wants to hear their specific content auditioned by particular artists, test recordings can be arranged for a lower cost than the final hero session.

Throughout a project’s production, visual elements are edited on a time-line according to a scratch voiceover. This no-frills voiceover is typically read by an editor or a producer as a track to set the timing for all the other elements. Once all the kinks and idiosyncrasies are worked out of the script, it’s not unusual for the talent to swoop in and lay it down perfectly the first time.

That said, in the spirit of not having to do things twice, seasoned producers also take “safeties” of any word which can be pronounced in more than one way to be kept in their back pocket to avoid re-records. Even for a pro, speaking a single word on its own sounds different than when it is spoken in a sentence, so it's best to record the entire sentence as a whole — which is well worth the investment despite the session time adding up. It usually takes about an hour to record five minutes of content.  

Every once in a while Mechanism Digital works with a celebrity on a voiceover. The following anecdote concerns a voice nearly everyone is familiar with. The recording session had gone smoothly and at the end our client said: “Amazing! Your voice is perfect for our annual meeting’s video. As a last request, can we also ask you to say , ‘This is ______  ______, and I welcome you all to our annual meeting’?"  

The actor/narrator responded, "Wait a second. If I'm endorsing your company with my name, that's a whole different conversation than just having the sound of my narration." His rich voice diffused any potential awkwardness in a way that didn’t imply the client was out of line. It was a live demonstration of what the right voice on a project can accomplish.

Originally published: 01/27/2022

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