Alright, we confess, for this we are going to hand over to the experts. The following tips are taken from the excellent people at Jungle Studios and their user-friendly Audio Guide.
Working with voice over artists
This can be a tricky business and your time is often limited. So here are some tips…
- Give the VO artist some background on the product or project. The more they know the more likely they are to find the tone of voice you are looking for. If you have pictures/scripts in advance of the session, send them to the VO – it can save time in the studio and they may have comments and suggestions too. The more involved the talent feels, the better their read is likely to be
- Remember the VO is isolated in the booth – unless the engineer opens the talkback between recordings they can’t hear anything. It’s important to maintain communication with them between takes, which includes letting them listen to discussions between the team, so they know how you want the read to be delivered differently.
- Work out who is giving direction to the voiceover beforehand. It’s much better if direction comes from one source to avoid confusing the VO. If no-one in the room feels comfortable giving direction feed it via your engineer – they spend their lives doing it and can transfer your comments into “VO speak”.
- Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Fixating on tiny details means voiceovers slogging over and over the same lines and there is most definitely a law of diminishing returns. If something isn’t working try a different approach or ask your engineer’s opinion. Remember that different takes can be compiled to provide the perfect recording.
Finally… If you really aren’t getting what you want from the voiceover, don’t be afraid to politely say “thank you, that’s great” and let the VO go. Sometimes things just don’t click…
The amount of time you’re going to need very much depends on what’s required.
‘Simple’ is when all you need are background sounds i.e. the ad is set in a supermarket, a house, the back of a taxi, an office etc. Allow 30 – 60 minutes.
With complex SFX it’s best to discuss with the engineer in advance. This can help in many ways – the studio can source tricky sound effects in advance of the session and it also gives the engineer time to research and consider how they’re going to achieve the required effect.
There are three types of music you can choose for your ad:
- Commercial music – performed by an artist, commercially available and often well-known. • Library/production music – pre-recorded and available “off the shelf”.
- Bespoke composition – written specifically for the commercial.
Library music is the cheapest, with composition generally being cheaper than licensing a well-known piece of commercial music.
The price of licensing commercial tracks varies widely and you may not get permission to use the track you want. The process of getting a commercial track cleared involves the publisher, artists and writer all agreeing the fee. It’s time consuming so allow enough time to clear the track if this is the route you are going down.
The price of composition depends on the genre of music and level of production you require. If the music you want can be produced on a computer using samples, it will normally be cheaper than going into a studio to record real instruments or an orchestra. Although there will be instances when you only need one musician’s performance, so recording things for real needn’t always mean it is prohibitively expensive.
Make sure you engage the music production company early enough to allow time for the demo and a couple of rounds of changes before going into full production. They will be able to advise you on timeframes and fees based on your requirements.
Native – Some studios (including Jungle’s own music supervision arm) can help you with anything from library searches to composing big orchestral pieces, or recording a track in the style that you are specifically looking for.
The amount of time you’re going to need depends on number of voices, number of scripts, number of sound effects and any music requirements. It also depends on how quickly creative teams and clients make decisions in session.
As a rule, an hour is usually enough to do the VO record for 1 – 2 scripts.
If you have one VO for the main body of the script and another for the legal then get the legal VO in first because then you’ll know how much time you have for the creative bit.
Legal VO records tend to be very quick (15-30) minutes – so there’s no need to allow a whole hour. If the script is dialogue between 2 or more people it’s best to record them at the same time, this will help the script flow and allow the VOs to work off one another.
For ads that are just VO and music you probably only need one hour per script to record and mix your ad. If you need to choose music, mix different music options or the music needs editing to length allow an extra 45 minutes per script to do this.
Most radio ads, even with complex SFX, rarely take longer than 3 hours per script.