Voice over as a task is quite similar to the narration. Remember Morgan Freeman’s narration in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption? Freeman’s narration almost seems like a character in itself; such was its impact. Voice over, too, has that importance, although it is not used for entertainment purposes.
Voice over is the background voice recording that can be heard on informational and academic videos. Just as Freeman’s deep and comforting voice draws us into the story, good voice-overs can hold the viewer’s attention by adding quality audio to video. Voice-over artists are a profession, and they are hired to give a professional result to their videos.
There are a few characteristics and requirements that make a voice over artist truly professional. And anyone who aspires to be one should follow.
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- Clarity – Many a time, we have all skipped past videos with dull voice-overs without completely watching it. Somewhere between mumblings and shrillness is the clear voice. It is the voice clarity that enables people to understand every word you say clearly. Pronouncing each word correctly is also an important feature of a good voice-over artist. Incorrect or unclear words can often distract listeners as they cannot understand parts of the speech. And it is only when the viewer understands you completely that they are likely to watch the video in entirety.
- Tone – A clear voice wouldn’t be of much help if the tone itself is harsh or unfriendly. Depending on the video’s content, your voice-over would range from warm and friendly to resolute and assuring. An over-excited voice-over can distract the attention of the listener away from the subject matter. An underwhelming and dull monotone, on the other hand, is almost certain to put your listener to fall asleep halfway through the video.
- Volume – You will be able to find the perfect pitch and volume for your voice-over only after a few hits and trials. Nevertheless, we recommend that you test your volume in advance so that you find the perfect loudness required for the video.
- Tempo – At the very least, your voice-over should be in sync with the pace of the video. You should be following the topic which is being shown in the video. Secondly, the video should be made in a manner that the tempo of the voice-over doesn’t sound rushed. Many instructional videos speedily pack a lot of speech into short videos. By doing so, they ensure that the video is made within the ideal time. However, after watching it, the viewer is left overwhelmed to process too much information in too little time.
- Posture – Surprisingly, yes! Try speaking lying down, sitting on the couch, and standing upright. Our delivery is different each time. That is because a good body posture ensures good breathing support, which, in turn, affects the way our voice sounds. Find out the right posture that brings the best out of your voice and stick to it during recording sessions.
Here’s a list of technical requirements for voice-overs
- Atmosphere – Creating a professional studio-like atmosphere can be quite expensive. However, even beginners can maintain the right recording atmosphere by canceling out all background noises and distractions. For example, choose a basement over the living room, or an off-road cabin over a roadside apartment. Switching the buzzing air-conditioning off, not letting your cat into the room during recording, making sure you don’t record while your neighbor is listening to his rock music, or when there’s a car honking, are attentions to detail that cancels out background noise from the final output.
- Tools – Investing in a good microphone, pop filter, recording, and editing software are little investments in tools that can enhance the voice-over quality of many folds. Microphones come at all sorts of prices, choose the best one that suits your budget. A music stand putting the mic, the script, and everything in place will also keep the recording session in order. You can use a pop filter as it helps you maintain the right distance from the mic and also cancels out plosive noises. There are various open-source and licensed software that you need to select for recording and even editing.
- Script – Unless you have supreme confidence in your extempore skills, prepare an elaborate script for the video. The script should be clear and formatted in a way that is friendly to your eye. If someone else wrote the script, you should familiarise yourself with it before entering the recording sessions. So you do not waste time.
- Recording – This is the culmination of everything we have talked about so far. Apart from the quality of your voice and the setting up of an ideal recording system, perfecting your recording may require a few test sessions. Using a recording software, you can continue to record and test the output instantly.
- Editing – Apart from a patient ear, editing, too, involves the use of the software. You have to listen to your recordings intently and weed out any noise or mistakes. The software can also help you to remove or insert gaps as and where required. You can choose to master the art of editing yourself or hire a professional if budget permits. You may also need to add music to the video if the video so requires. Once you have learned how to chop around the waveforms on the editing board, your learning curve as a homegrown voice-over professional is more or less complete.
Regular Practice is an important requirement for turning pro in any field. In the case of voice-over, the practice would include your efforts to improve your voice and style of delivery. It would also mean more time trying to learn how the recording tools work; this would help you master the fine art of voice-over. Once you have the script in hand, you have to practice and recite it over to plan your final voice over. Besides, you have to devote some time to understand how the software works. By devoting regular time to practice and on the all-round learning and development, you can become a natural in the art of voice-overs. Hope this guide helps you understand the fine aspect of voice-over.