As eLearning has increasingly become a preferred method of corporate training, the quality of audio narration has become one, if not the primary, critical factor in the learner’s experience, engagement, and retention of material. No longer will it suffice for an audio narrator to simply read the information being visually presented (think of the dryness of online narration software); savvy learners now expect to be inspired, or at the least relatable. If not, the endless distraction of new emails, text messages, and the web will quickly divert learners’ attention and diminish returns for any organization.
However, finding the right voiceover read style and delivery, is easier said than done. How exactly should audio narration be combined with written content to optimize engagement and learning potential? And will this slow down development of the eLearning modules themselves, costing organizations precious time and dollars? Fortunately, there are some tips to get you started:
Good audio design and a great script go a long way for successful elearning projects.
The eLearning field continues to quickly evolve, and it is important that content developers and producers stay ahead of the curve in remaining competitive. I am fortunate to have been a part of this process with various clients, and work to make it smooth, easy, and fun! Drop me a line to get started on your next eLearning project.
What does hiring a voice talent look like?
What can I expect when finding a professional voice actor?
You've worked really hard getting your idea from concept to reality. Whether it's a commercial (tv, radio, Pandora, etc...), or video (explainer, sales, elearning); it took a while to get from nothing-to-something. Now you're ready to add that voice and perfectly wrap up your brilliant creative innovation. But how do you find the right voice? And when you do, how do you guarantee you're getting a real voice pro?
Step 1: Find Your Resource
Finding a voice talent online can be an overwhelming experience. You can choose the online marketplace, research agents/casting directors, or find individual voice actors' web presence. As someone who has also hired other voice actors, as well as creative professionals; doing the search on your own can be a daunting task. Trust your instincts and ask yourself solid questions; Does this voice actor have a good online persona? Does this talent agent work with clients like me? Does a certain online casting marketplace work better for my workflow than another? Answers to these questions will help direct you to the right resource.
Good voice talent will collaborate to make your project really come to life:
Step 2: Get An Audition
Getting a custom audition for your project is the best way to gauge 2 important things:
If the read is not quite there, you can always ask for another take. Remember, punching up certain words, or hitting a particular flow might not have been understood if the specs sent aren't clear. Send clear, and detailed specs on the project, read style, and expectations. Even sending a current draft of your project, or the music you're going to use is really helpful.
Step 3: Set the expectations
Now that you've done all the leg-work of finding and hiring your voice actor, it's time to set the expectations. This is a very fluid concept, and will depend on how you retained the voice talent. If you went through an agent, they'll typically have a particular set rate structure, workflow, and timing. Good agents are very flexible to their clients, but remember they have a business to run too. Respecting each others' needs is important to keep moving forward.
If you retained a talent direct, setting your needs for record timings, turnaround, tech needs, payment, and schedule are very important. This is still a business and us working voice actors treat it as such. I pride myself on being flexible and adaptable to my client's needs, but payment terms and recording expectations still need to be discussed. And once it's all lined out, you will get the best performance from your talent!
Being collaborative will help make the voiceover process easy and fun!
While working in the creative space, keeping a collaborative attitude will get everything moving along quickly and easily. Finding a professional voice talent doesn't have to be hard. Just remember, go with a pro, get an audition, and set your expectations.
If you're ready talk chat about your project, let's get going!
Giving voice to cool, unique, and boutique brand Owen & Fred.
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Being an independent creative and voice artist, I consider myself a "boutique voice talent". While I'm not be one of the big boys, I do get to work with cool brands! The process is always a little different, than say working with a national brand like Dirt Devil.
Recently, I was able to work with a really cool brand based in Brooklyn, Owen & Fred. They make super sweet accessories, and gifts for the "modern man". But the best part was, I worked directly with the owner/founder. Hearing Mike's story directly really helped me nail down the delivery of the 10 videos we did. A real cool guy and a real cool brand. Even GQ thinks so. It was an honor to voice his products.
Check out Owen & Fred and get some great gear for yourself, or for that dude in your life.
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What does proximity effect sound like? How can it change a voice over read? (scroll down to listen)
In the realm of voiceover, every single element of the sound that you're recording is essential, nuanced, and particular. With voice over recording, we try to invoke the right emotion or feeling to the person who will eventually be listening. Generally speaking, whenever you record a new track you want everything to have a full-bodied richness, but clean and real. Simply put; recording voiceover as professional as possible. There are a wide range of techniques that you can choose to completely change the way a listener perceives your recording. Depending on exactly what it is that you're trying to accomplish - Proximity Effect is one of those techniques that can be incredibly successful if used in the right way.
What is Proximity Effect?
Proximity Effect is a concept that refers to the way sound changes as the subject gets closer to or farther away from the microphone. If you're recording a voiceover track with an actor, for example, placing them closer to the microphone as they're speaking will normally result in that person sounding like they have a bass-heavy, deep voice. If you move that same person farther away from the microphone, those low tones might disappear and the natural treble in their voice might take center stage.
Even though you're recording the same lines with the same person, they can sound completely different based on how close to the microphone that person was standing. This is the essence of the Proximity Effect at work.
How Proximity Effect Can Be Used in Voice Over Recordings?
One of the best examples of how Proximity Effect is used in voice over recording is something that you can hear for yourself in a movie theater every Friday night. Think about the voiceover actors who narrates movie trailers and how deep and booming their voices normally are. Movie studios know that the right deep, powerful voice can really help to sell the images that you're seeing on screen and make a movie seem like a can't miss, action-packed spectacle.
Not every movie trailer narrator necessarily has this type of voice, however, even though they may be a competent voiceover artist in their own right. Making use of the Proximity Effect can be a great way to really boost the "booming" aspect of their voice and can allow trailer designers to arrive at exactly the right feeling that they're after.
How Proximity Effect Can Change Sound Recordings?
By understanding exactly how Proximity Effect can change a recording, you can also begin to see just what it is capable of accomplishing if utilized effectively. At its most basic concept, Proximity Effect changes how "deep" or how "full" a particular recording sounds. Some also call it "presence". In reality, however, it's all about changing the feeling behind a sound recording. Say you were recording a script and you needed an actor to sound absolutely enraged and filled to the brim with anger. You would want to make use of the Proximity Effect and put that actor much closer to the microphone than usual to capture that rich, heavy sound.
Do you need the same actor to suddenly sound a bit more subdued or calm? Move them back about a foot from the microphone to remove some of that low end and let the high end take over. It's the same actor in both instances, but you're getting two completely different feelings based on exactly what the moment calls for.
By acknowledging the Proximity Effect and embracing it when the situation calls for it, you're making it easier for your performers to do their jobs and are only increasing the overall experience of your content on behalf of the listener at the same time.
How Proximity Effect Can Hurt a Recording?
One of the major ways that Proximity Effect can actually hurt a recording has to do with a situation where your voiceover artist may move around during a take. If the performer starts a line twelve inches away from the microphone and ends it six inches closer, his or her voice is naturally going to change with that movement as the Proximity Effect takes hold.
Also, it takes solid microphone technique to not end up with hard plosives, or too much sibilance when a voice actor is right up on the mic. In some instances, a double pop screen is very effective, and almost a necessity!
Too much Proximity Effect can create a pretty tricky situation when you get into editing, as you'll have to focus heavily on equalization to make the change less jarring to the listener. This is something that singers often have to deal with, as these types of performers are often very animated - creating something of a tonal balance issue as a result.
A Voice Over blog
Tips, Tricks and Insights for casting, producers, agents, managers, creatives, and talent in the voice over industry.
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