Voicing for a Producer: The guy that edits your voice over has your next paycheck in his hands.
There is one person that a lot of “Voice Actors” don't really think of when it comes to getting the gig, never mind keeping the gig, and that is the producer or audio engineer...whatever you want to call him or her. This is a big shame because this is the person that ultimately controls what you end up sounding like.
I have the benefit of experience on both sides of the mic. I have done voice work for cartoons, video games, television and radio, commercials and imaging (these are not voiced the same, by the way, but that's another blog) on hold messages....you name it. And I've also been the producer for all of these types of projects...I was the guy that chopped up the audio and produced the final project, so I know first hand just how influential this position is for getting voice work...and losing it.
I have been fortunate to have worked with some of the biggest names in the Voice Over industry as well as VO virgins and it's shocking to me just how many of the “Pros” don't really understand, what it takes to make their voice Air-able. Of course there is the possibility that they may not care, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
So I decided to share some of my experience and give you some info on how to deliver Voice Overs for the producer.
Yes the Director is important... but he just deals with the big picture.This is primarily focused on those in studio voice over sessions. Whether it's an audition or an actual paid gig it is shocking how many voice talents know who the director is, but have no clue what the name is of the engineer. Lets break down for a second what that engineer does before you even set foot into the booth. Their goal is to ensure the quality of the sound for the project and that includes everything from making sure the proper mics are being used and are set up accordingly to making sure that you, the “talent”, are as comfortable as possible. And that could involve everything from checking the thermostat to making sure you have water and tissues, even pencils. These highly skilled professionals even sanitize the equipment for you and make sure you never know about the stinky guy that was in the booth before you...by the way don't be the stinky guy.During the session the engineer patiently records take after take while you and the director search for just the right delivery, all the while maintaining proper levels and quality control. Just think how frustrating it can be for you, the Voice Actor, doing multiple takes trying to please the director. Well it is the engineers job to make sure that when you get the perfect take...it actually is perfect. And those are just the first steps of the engineer's process, there's a “whole nuther world” that happens when you leave the booth.So, if you haven't caught on yet, introduce yourself to the engineer and remember their name; especially since a lot of engineers freelance at other studios. And when you are done, thank them as well as the director...just trust me.
Cleanliness is next to Voice Over Godliness...For those projects that are recorded at home in your underwear...if thats your thing, before you send out those MP3s or WAVs or AIFFs or whatever, think again about what the producer is going to hear on the other end. And by hear I mean, wade through and clean up in order to even begin the production process. If you want to make a life long friend with the producer, take a bit of time to clean up the audio. Here is a quick list of some things to think of (all of which I have actually edited out of tracks sent to me), if you have more to add...feel free to leave me a comment...1. Room noise!2. Coughs and belches
3. garbage trucks driving by
4. kids wanting lunch
5. dogs barking
6. door bells and phone rings...lets just say sound effects in general...
7. Flubbed lines, unless they are funny and might be used for the project
Basically anything other than the copy. Now I know a lot of voice talent will argue that it's the producer's job to clean that up. Yes, it is, but you already know where those issues are and if you take just a few minutes to do that for them then when they are in a hurry on their next project and looking for a voice...who do you think they are more likely to call?
3. Don't make the Cook Mad!
Pay close attention to what's requested of you. Many engineers request voice over work parts to be delivered to them is specific ways. It could be as simple as requesting the audio to be delivered as a wav instead of an mp3, or the request could be not to equalize or filter your voice. The latter is very common and can be a huge headache when trying to master the final product. So yes, we all have our favorite EQ or Filter but let the producer produce. And if you happen to deliver the audio in the incorrect form...take responsibility and correct it quickly, most likely they are working on a deadline.
The Producer, ultimately, is the one who makes you sound good or bad. And in this world of consolidation and faster production, they are often also empowered by directors and other decision makers to have a stake in the choice on what voice talent to use. So its better to get a reputation as someone who is easy to work with, rather than someone who isn't.