How to direct your voice actor remotely and get the best out of recording session

  • voice over
  • 06-Mar-2021
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Direction, by far, is the most significant part of any production and directors, with their far sighted vision and creativity, can add life to any script. While the role of a director is imperative for any recording – whether audio or video, a final production – whether a movie, a web series, a commercial or an e-learning module is the result of a combined team effort.

While the terms ‘take 1’, ‘take 2’, ‘cut’ are a part and parcel of any production set, the task can be much more challenging when the director needs to guide the voice actor / actor remotely. However trivial it may sound, the need of an audio-director cannot be undermined even for the recording/ voice over of a 30 second or a 1 minute commercial spot. A commercial voice over artist would need to put himself in the characters shoes and read out the script in the tone, mood of the character.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has gone a long way in making people manage their work processes remotely, have direction and voice-over recording sessions been a part of this too? Well, only time can tell the efficiency and productivity of remote direction, but as of  the moment, it looks like remote working is here to stay!

While a professional voice over agency might manage its artists in a different way than its competitor, its all about making the voice actor understand the script and ensuring “remotely” that you get the best out of the voice over session. It is imperative to have the below homework done while directing a voice actor remotely –

  1. Script – Make sure that the voice actor has the script in advance. A brief guideline elaborating the recording instructions should be handy here.
  2. Audience – In most cases, especially in cases of a commercial/advertisement or a promotional video, the tone of the voice over is determined by the audience being targeted. The voice may have a lot of energy if the campaign is targeted towards a product targeting youth, while a pension product targeting senior citizens may use a soothing voice and tone. So, a clear idea of the audience can help ease out remote direction.
  3. Purpose – While purpose and audience might overlap sometimes to determine the tone and style of voice over, the end product / purpose of the recording session is very important for any professional voice actor to be able to pitch the session perfectly.
  4. Emotion & tone – There cannot be a single audio session which can go without an emotion. Emotion is a part and parcel of all voice overs and a versatile voice actor knows how to put emotions into the voice as per the character being emulated.
  5. Sample voice tone – Considering that the audio direction is happening remotely, it can be beneficial for the voice actor to have a small sample voice similar to what tone and style is needed in the script. This can help omit multiple takes in a remote recording session.
  6. Pace / Time sync – While recording pace is most critical for commercial ads, it is also of much significance to explainer videos as the video and audio must match in speed to give the viewer an amazing experience. Accordingly, the time constraints must be shared to the voice actor in advance so he / she can prepare accordingly. Moreover, if the end product is a video, the same must be shared with the voice actor for reference. This is especially critical for professional dubbing services with time sync where time sync is of high criticality.
  7. Communication is the key – While it is understood that communicating over phone / email or even video platforms such as Zoom, skype might not be as effective as an in-person communication, however, a proper video call setup can still be quite useful. While the voice over artist already has the details as per the points 1-5 above, the director can be a part of the session remotely and keep guiding wherever needed. Saying a few very effective words in the session can guide the voice actor to yield a voice recording which can do great justice to the script and the overall project.

With all the above said and done, it is also a matter of the experience and dexterity of both the voice actor and the director (along with technicians and other team members, of course) that can lead to a powerful remote recording session and can yield a voice over which bowls over the producers and the marketers! A professional voice actor with a rich experience of working across scripts can relate to the characters and tone of a new script and can pull off the recording session and deliver a high quality recording without much of a difficulty. Not only this, being in the industry, the professional voice actor can understand and follow subtle hints of the director without any difficulties.

In a nutshell, a voice over session – remote or in-person with the director – is a team effort and each one of the production team plays an essential role in churning out that ‘wao’ recording! As noted above, being a bit pro-active and passing on the information in advance can be very helpful for a remote direction session.

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