Starting a Voice Over project: A 5 step guide to doing it right
A correct voice-over script, style– and pronunciation guide are paramount to an effective and successful voice-over project. You need to clearly state what you want to be recorded; when the voice artist needs to say what and most importantly – how you want it to be said. You should think of it as your full instruction to a voice artist – not just the text.
From our almost 20 years in the business, we have learned all the dos and the don’ts. We know exactly which info we need, to deliver the voice-over as you imagined it and ensure first-time delivery success.
To give you a head start on your project, we have therefore put together this 5-step guide that will take you through the basics.
Step #1 – Know what you want
We can provide you with whatever style of voice-over you want. The question is – what voice do you need? You can figure this out, by considering the intended message in relation to your audience. What kind of person do you think would be the best to communicate your message to the people you want to listen?
Now consider the type of voice this “spokesperson” has. Is it a trustworthy corporate male voice speaking in a medium tempo or a jolly childish girl speaking fast? You can find inspiration in our voice-over demos or maybe in the media.
Finally, write as many detailed requirements for the style and emotion of the voice-over, as you can. If you have heard a voice-over that you like, you can also choose to send us a reference or the audio file, and we’ll figure out the style and emotion.
When you are done, you have what we refer to as a style brief. This is a great tool to have in hand when writing the script, as it enables you to imagine what this person would say to convey the message, and thereby create coherence between what is said and who says it.
Step #2 – Write spoken words
The words and sentence constructions that work well in writing may not be optimal when spoken and vice versa. Remember to write short sentences and use line breaks and punctuation to create pauses that sound natural when spoken.
Next, check your text for any words that may be hard for the voice talent to pronounce. Company-, product- and city names as well as numbers and symbols are classic examples of words that are obvious to you but may be difficult for an outsider to pronounce correctly. Look at your text with “unfamiliar” eyes and make a list of all the words and symbols that need to be explained. Finally, you can make either a written phonetic guide or send us an audio file, of how to pronounce these words and symbols. We’ll store this in our Memory Bank under your company’s name.
Step #3 – Control the time
Some projects have a limit to the length of the voice-over, and often the voice-over needs to be timed in relation to a video, presentation, e-learning program or the like. It is crucial that you make sure that every time code is correct, as one mistake can and often will result in a domino-effect where each subsequent file is off. The only way to fix this is to make a new voice-over.
Step #4 – Get feedback from 3rd party
Have an unbiased person read your voice-over text, and instruct him or her to look for spelling and grammatical errors as well as words that they would be in doubt of how to pronounce. Even the best of us makes mistakes and it is well known that people tend to get a severe case of “error-blindness” when proofreading their own material.
Step #5 – Keep a simple layout
Paragraphs and Columns
The script should be clearly divided into paragraphs and columns. A rule of thumb is:
- One column for the voice-over text
- One column for file names
- One column for time codes
- One column for directions and comments to the voice talent
- Use a font that is easy to read and stick with one font throughout the voice-over script. Ex. Calibri or Times New Roman.
- Write in a font-size that works both on screen and in print. Not too small, and not too large. Size 12 in MS Word is a good standard.
- Stick to black text on a white background. Colours may confuse and create doubt about what is the actual voice-over text.
- Do not use caps lock. It’s hard to read a text all in capital letters, and it might be interpreted as shouting by the voice talent.
- Only use bold, italic, and underlined words, if you explain the purpose.
- Make sure that internal comments and tracked changes are removed in the final voice-over script.
When you have been through these 5 simple steps, you will have all you need to start your voice-over project right.
You're all set
Do you have any questions or requests?
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