It took 1 studio, 2 actors, 2 countries, Source Connect, and dash of ISDN to make some special audio magic.
Connecting to voice actors for recording sessions opens up a plethora of options. (mostly I wanted to write a sentence where I wrote "plethora"). While ISDN is still the argued standard, and Source Connect is the argued second; there are still others that fall into the pool of "other". Whether it's ipDTL, Source-Connect Now, SoundStreak, Skype, or a classic phone patch; directing a voiceover session has never been easier.
For me, sessions are about even when it comes to direction options. Last week I had just as many Source Connect sessions as ISDN sessions. And had just as many phone patch as I did Skype. What does that mean? Probably nothing, it just is what it is. While the technology landscape is changing, a universal agreed upon standard is why 1) ISDN isn't going anywhere, and 2) there are so many new players in the game. However I love audio recording innovation, and hope it continues.
ISDN To the Rescue!
Last week, however, was a particularly awesome session! It was booked as a Source Connect session with a studio in Spokane, WA. The script was "partner" style, with a female voice actor playing the other role. On those, sometimes you get to read live, but most times they record the actors separate and smash it together. While I was waiting for the studio to connect, the time kept passing with no word. I checked all my connections and it seemed fine, but the studio hadn't initiated the session yet. Then I got an email asking if they could do ISDN instead. Weird, but that's fine. I fired up the Telos Zephyr and then...chirp chirp.
Live Partner Read.
What waited for me on the other side was the studio, and the female voice actor, who was connected via Source Connect from London! I quickly realized, they couldn't have both of us connected with Source Connect at the same time, so they re-wired it! I was ISDN to the studio, she was Source Connect, and they patched us together so we could do a live partner read! So cool! Now we have 3 forms of tech, 2 actors, 1 studio, 2 different countries, and 2 different states. Neato!
Without ISDN though, I'm not sure what would have happened. Might have done separate sessions, which is normal, but for this one I think they really wanted a live read. Which totally paid off! They put together a great spot!
When I record voiceover projects, I get the privilege of working with a lot of cool, creative, and amazing people! While I simply, take care of the voice recording, there are people in every stage of the process writing the script, creating the storyboard, casting and shooting (or graphic design with animation), and so on. Everyone has their own role in the process – some overlap and some are completely separate. Some do it all! But I always find that when we work together and are able to share ideas and opinions, we create something really special.
Here are some ways to grow voiceover collaboration between creative team members so you can develop awesome(r) projects:
Keep Open Lines of Communication
When you're trying to collaborate as a team, communicating is the most important thing. People are more likely to want to work together if their voices are heard and appreciated. As the voice talent, I need to be able to tell the other members of the team if something just isn't working or if I have a creative idea I think might add to the production. At the same time, I know that I need to be open to what the other members of the team have to tell me. I have to respect that they put a lot of time and effort into every part of the project, and that it's not just about me. It's about creating their project and helping it come to life. As a voice actor, I'm a small piece of that pie, however I work hard to respect everyones' creative spaces.
Appreciate Each Person's Creative Talent and Unique Perspective
Each member of the team is bringing his/her own professional expertise and personal perspective to the table, so it's great when we can appreciate what each person has to offer. Since voice work is my specialty, I might think about how the script will sound in a practical way that the writer and director couldn't imagine. So even though the script writer is creating the script, she might benefit from my expertise or from getting a better idea of how I'll read the script. It might sound differently in her head than how it sounds when I read it, or I might speak at a different speed than she would, so collaboration can help us get it right. At the same time, I always appreciate that the writer thought hard about the script and had a reason for every word.
I’ve also found that I’ve been able to bring my own creativity and ideas to a project, which is great. Sometimes, I can add something to the whole production because of where I'm coming from. Just as one example, I have improvised some lines on occasion. I figure the team can always take my lines out if they don't like them, but sometimes they leave them in and appreciate the personality I add to the video. By doing this, I've even made myself more memorable to the team. Then they come back to me the next time since they figure I can give them something more than another voice talent. More importantly, that team was cool and created an environment where a little improv was accepted!
Make Sure You're on the Same Page
Another part of collaboration is that all of the members of the team have to be on the same page. So maybe we all have separate roles and different expertise to bring to the table, but at the end of the day, we need to be working toward the same goals. To begin with, we need to have clear direction from the top so everyone knows their own role and how it fits with everyone else's. Otherwise, we can end up with the director having a four-minute video in mind, while the script writer creates a two-minute one. That's not going to work.
We also need to work together during the process. As the voice guy, I think about how part of the storyboard will sound, while the person shooting or animating it is thinking about how it will look. Through collaboration, we can make sure we’re on the same page. Overall, the team works together to make sure their separate talents are all going toward the same end result.
Are you ready to collaborate? Not sure where to start? Drop me a line and let's get going! I can even recommend my stellar clients that produce fantastic content. Let's do it!
IdeaRocket Animation and I sat down and chatted voiceover, creativity, and not being an asshole.
I love a good chat. Just riffing, or bouncing ideas in a ballet of words exchanged with no real theme other than pure enjoyment of an art form...conversation. Last week, I had the chance to sit down and chat with IdeaRocket's content guru Blake Harris.
Check out the full article and how we banter about what is was like to grow up in Montana, how I tried to find an audience, and always be easy to work with (see asshole comment above).
Here is one of my favorite parts on growing up an "entertainer" and starting in overnight AM radio in high school:
Blake: So at what point did your “audience” grow beyond your prank-appreciative parents and, of course, friends who appeared as guests on your imaginary radio shows?
Avoid common copywriting mistakes for smooth, conversational voiceover scripts.
If you listen to ANYTHING commercially, all reads are "conversational". Typical voice over script specs call for "non-announcer", "like you're talking to a friend", "no radio voices", "real", "honest", "natural", etc... Although this sound is in-vogue, there is an inherent challenge when trying to write conversational voice over copy.
Ever try to make something highly technical sound like you're talking to a friend? "Hey Bill did you know, the injection depth should be the subdermal plane in order to denervate the superficial frontalis muscle tissue?" Ok that's extreme, but you get the idea.
Applying a conversational style to voiceovers takes skill and copy that delivers. If you're creating voiceover copy to capture the audience and keep them engaged, there are a number of things you can do. Here are 6 great tips:
1 - Understanding conversational structure
Doing proper topic research and allowing time to fully process new information is key. Once you understand the topic, you will be able to structure your document to address the audience's need. When crafting conversational copy, using the scenario, problem, solution formula may work well. Use question marks to identify the potential problem, and address the solution directly to the audience. Audiences quickly gravitate to a question about a need, and should feel that you are speaking to them personally through engaging copy that's right on the mark.
2 - Write for your audience
When writing for a particular audience, your copy should reflect the language of your target audience. Infusing elements that carry a regional tone helps connect with the listeners. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Use commas and periods to introduce new ideas. Even adding sentence fragments can be helpful to mirror a natural conversation. Avoid the formalities and keep your tone light. Using contractions such as "it's" instead of "it is", "we're" instead of "we are" and "there's" instead of "there is" is more informal keeping your copy light and relatable.
3 - Avoid industry heavy jargon
Always keep the audience in mind while writing. The commercial copy should be informative without being too stuffy. In other words, "KISS" it. That means, keep it short and simple. Your words should reflect the way that character would speak. Avoid heavy technical language and industry jargon and replace it with common words. Find one person to provide feedback, who knows almost nothing about the topic, and see how they receive it. If they’re interested in what you have to say, you’ve accomplished your goal.
Solid conversational copy let's the content shine!
4 - Write actively
Write in the now! Conversational copy brings the subject into the present and performs the action. It’s more in tune with how people speak. When writing conversationally, think about how you would write to a friend and apply those same principles. What would you say to get them to try a new service, or look at a certain product? Audiences relate to conversations where they have something in common. Using examples and metaphors can give your message strength while increasing the level of comfort in listening to what you have to say. Using a first or second person approach helps your message become more personable.
5 - Read out loud
Once you’ve written your copy, now is the time to read it out loud. Think about the delivery and pay attention to where you must take a breath. If it sounds awkward or is difficult to read, you need to revamp those areas. Your copy shouldn't sound academic in nature, but as if you are in a room full of friends. Using shorter sentences and words always helps your writing sound more authentic. Make sure your copy mirrors a conversation, but stays within the realm of the topic and audience. Tailor your copy to the brand, topic or audience, which will determine whether or not you need to infuse humor, a formal voice or even slang.
6 - Maintain a consistent rhythm
Maintaining a consistent rhythm while connecting ideas from one line or paragraph to another will help your content flow. Good conversational copy has a voice - keep the content simple, engaging, and full of personality for the most effective results. One of the best ways to determine whether or not your copy has a conversational tone is to record it. Get a professional voice actor (like this guy), to send you a free audition. That way you can gage the script, and also cast the voice! By using a recorded conversation, you’ll be able to hear nuances you use and hear the reaction of others. This will give you a clearer understanding on how you come across to your audience and their possible reactions to the copy you write.
If you need some help, let's connect and get that script in order!
Satirical "News Source" The Onion gets a radio ad from this voice actor/Montana native.
Pizza. Beer. Satire. Freshly pressed socks. 3 of those things I love. The other is satire. Are you familiar with The Onion? If you aren't, then the best way I can explain what it is, is by watching my all-time favorite "news piece":
Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of... (NSFW, depending on where you work).
Urban Bison like to take vacations too!
Last week The Onion released an article highlighting Montana Tourism targeting urban bison for their new ads. Hey, bison need vacations too! Well for this native Montana-raised boy, I couldn't resist and made a radio ad. I wrote the voice over script based on the article, selected the production music, and mixed a spot ready for broadcast. Check it out!
The brilliance of The Onion is most of their content is sponsored. Which makes me love my home state even more. If this article is sponsored, then it proves where some of my super sweet sense of humor comes from.
Check out the Ad Age article on how The Onion gets people to read sponsored content.
It's Summer Concert season and that means new radio promos!
Hot sun. Cold drink. A favorite band...or 20...is there anything better? Summer concerts are awesome and I love voicing radio promos for them! It's cool to hear the contests the stations give away, and get highlight some badass artists!
The latest one comes out of KWHT 103.5 FM in Pendleton, OR. It's for the Oregon Jamboree featuring acts Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, and Big & Rich. The promo was upbeat, tons of energy, and a lot of fun to lay down in the booth.
Are you ready for some radio imaging, promo, or commercials!
Let's chat and lay down some fresh summertime spots!
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Tips, Tricks and Insights for casting, producers, agents, managers, creatives, and talent in the voice over industry.
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