Syndicated from source by Video Production Shop.
Television commercials. Radio ads. Internet promotions. So much of what we consume is driven by voice over. Yet, when planning out a project, voice over is often a second thought. Sure, you know that you need narration to drive across specific informational content in the video, but it isn’t as exciting as discussing the big drone shot that is going to open the piece.
I get it. The big drone shot is going to be fun to shoot, and is going to make an immediate impact on the audience. But I want you to consider something significant: voice over is just that–the voice of your project. It is going to set the tone of your message. It, for at least the space of the video and the specific section of memory that it claims within your brain, is the voice of your very brand.
It doesn’t matter how cheery and whimsical your imagery is, if the narration sounds as if it is being delivered by Ben Stein, no one is going to equate your brand with fun. You may offer the most advanced surgical technology on the planet, but if its features are couched in an Adam Sandler imitation, no one is going to trust you with their vital organs.
This begs the question, how do you set yourself up with success when it comes to your video’s narration? To answer this, we’ve enlisted one of our favorite collaborators, voiceover superhero Bonnie Marie Williams.
“Celebrity references help a lot… I get Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, and Amy Poehler a lot.”
In your opinion, what makes for a good voice over?
A good voice over, in my opinion, is one that makes you feel something – whatever it is that it’s setting out to do. Having good audio quality is also important. A VO with bad audio quality is super distracting! But that’s more of a technical note 🙂
What sort of information do you require from a client to best tailor your delivery to their project? Are descriptors like “30-something”, and “confident, but approachable” actually helpful?
Descriptors are totally helpful – it gives me more of a clear idea of what the client is looking for. Celebrity references help a lot as well (I get Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, and Amy Poehler a lot). Anything that can clue me into the voice in their head is helpful. Usually it boils down to “warm and friendly” which I’d like to think I do naturally.
Is it helpful to have a client sit in on a recording session? If not, what information is best to have ahead of time to make certain that things progress smoothly?
Some clients prefer to sit in and do a live directed session, others trust that the talent knows what to do. Knowing the specs and descriptors ahead of time are helpful, but this is why I always submit an ABC read – the script with three different takes – to give a range to the client, and if none of those are quite what they’re looking for or they’re very specific, then a live directed session can be helpful. I’ve had clients insist on both, so it really is whatever is most helpful. Also, if a client isn’t going to sit in on the recording, audio files for pronunciation of brand names, unfamiliar jargon, and the names of people are helpful, or written pronunciation guides being sent over as well.
Is there anything else that ensures getting it right the first time?
“It all boils down to communication, just as it is in any other personal or professional relationship.”
Being as clear as possible in terms of communication helps us to get it right the first time. My job is to make your job as easy as possible, and get files back ASAP, so you can keep moving. Sometimes what we think we want changes after we hear it – and so a client may change their mind on the tone or read afterwards. It all boils down to communication, just as it is in any other personal and professional relationship. Communication really is key!
Let’s end with something fun: what range of accents/voices can you do? How did you learn these? What are your favorites?
I constantly surprise myself with what I can do, compared to what I thought I “could” do. I don’t like to limit myself, so when a challenge or something new presents itself, I love to give it a try. A lot of my training with accents came from years of theatrical productions, and having that theatre base has helped me so much in my voiceover career, especially when it comes to being able to take direction! I’ve done spots for clients with British and Southern accents, but I’ll only submit auditions for accent jobs I feel most comfortable with (and if the client is OK with it not being “natural” – a lot of accents and auditions are calling for people with natural dialects and accents. When that’s the case, you won’t hear me do it because I know it most likely won’t be as good as the talent submitting!) I do, however, often play kids – especially 8 year old boys, for commercials, animation, and eLearning projects. So the running joke I tell clients is, “I can play little Timmy and his mom!” and I’ve gotta say, those are probably some of my favorite jobs. Typically these kids are high energy, so it feels like I’ve had a shot of espresso afterwards! I recently did a commercial spot as an 8 year old boy that was live directed with the clients and studio on the line, plus the other actress who played my mom, and we did a lot of improv and added dialogue as our characters, and it was one of the best sessions I’ve ever had.
Bonnie Marie Williams has been acting for over 20 years in the theatre & on stage, in television, film, and voiceover. Looking for that conversational, girl-next-door voice? Just call her Clark Kent. How about children’s voices, playing young girls and boys? Check and check. Narration, eLearning, commercial, audiobook, animation, explainer, on-hold, IVR — you name it, she does it. Her youthful, sincere, charming, quirky voice has hints of Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, Amy Poehler (mostly as Leslie Knope), and a dash of Scarlett Johansson. Maybe you’re looking for a male voice talent for your project? She’s got you covered, helping clients cast projects from a vast network of professional voice talent to call on. Like the super hero tagline says, “Where there’s a Williams, there’s a way.” You should totally check out her website at vosuperhero.com
* This article was originally published here
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