Voice over recording is a massive part of the recording industry. It includes recording relaxation CDs, Hypnosis, Tuition and Language lessons, TV and Radio jingles, Radio drama, Documentary commentaries, Corporate promotions and many more.
We're recorded all these different formats over the years and can help you maximise your studio time to the best advantage. If you haven't had a lot of experience in this field, here are a few suggestions that we hope you will find useful.
As in most things, the more prepared you are beforehand, the better. When you think you have a finished script in your hand (but before you get anywhere near the studio) practise reading it out loud - ideally to someone else who's opinion you trust, and who will give you honest feedback. You need to be sure that it all makes sense and it is delivering your "message" in a clear concise way that anyone can understand.
Try and get a copy of the script to the voice over artist beforehand so they are familiar with it on the day and don't stumble over unfamiliar words and phrases. Unless you know exactly how you want the lines to be delivered you may consider asking for their advice, especially if they are trained actors or professionals.
One of the advantages of having a professional v/o artist deliver your lines is that they will have probably had a great deal of experience, and will get the job done quickly and to a high standard. They may also be able to offer you something in the vocal style or delivery that is different or better, than your original idea.
Bring spare copies of the script on the day, including one for the sound engineer who will be following closely and making notes which will be needed when the editing is done later on. Be open to the idea that it doesn't matter who the good ideas come from - so long as it improves the final product, that's good news for everybody!
If the budget won't stretch to a professional v/o artist there are other options. Sometimes the customer may be perfectly capable of doing the job themselves, but please be realistic about your own vocal abilities.
If you think you're up to it, here are some suggestions to help it all go smoothly :
Be aware that the microphones are extremely sensitive, and will capture even the quietest sounds. This includes the sound of pages being turned over, but there is a simple technique whereby when you reach the end of a page you pause for a couple of seconds before moving the paper away from the microphone, then turning it over. That pause allows us to make a clean edit later on with no unwanted noises under the dialogue, and where we can remove the paper rustling sound, if necessary.
If you make a mistake over the words (and you will - everybody does!) don't panic. Take a pause to compose yourself, then go back a couple of sentences and pick it up just before where you went wrong, reading the whole of the sentence again. That way, we can edit the good version in later, and the tonality of your voice should be the same. When done properly, it should be a completely seamless edit and just sound like one perfect continuous rendition.
When we first started, all the editing was done manually with 1/4" tape. We'd mark the edit point on the tape with a white chinagraph pencil, then cut it with a razor blade in an editing block before joining it back up to the rest of the tape with a piece of spicing tape.
Thankfully those days are over, as it could be very confusing having loads of bits of tape hanging round your neck all waiting to be put in the correct order - any mistakes and you had to re do the edits again!
Thanks to computers, we now use what's called non destructive editing, which basically means that if you make a mistake in the editing it can easily be re-done as you haven't actually "cut" anything. As far as the software is concerned, you've merely dropped a marker flag on to the dialogue that says "play from this bit to that bit" without actually affecting the original audio files at all.
ADDING MUSIC TO CDs
You may want to have music playing underneath your voice recording, especially if it's something like a relaxation CD. There are several important things to bear in mind when adding music, the first of which is do you have permission to use it?
You might have found the most perfect piece of ambient music in your CD collection but unfortunately without the permission of the writers and recording copyright holders, you won't be able to use it. (Please contact the MCPS / PRS for more information about this, as they are the organisations that deal with these applications in the UK)
However, there are alternatives. The first option is to go on the internet and type in "Royalty free music" and follow the links. You'll find that there are many sites that offer this, with varying conditions attached (eg : a small fixed set fee or a percentage of sale price) but you may even find someone who is willing to allow you to use their music for free in exchange for an aknowledgement on the CD cover.
You could also have a piece of music written specially for your project, and it's not as expensive as you might think - please contact us with your requirements and to discuss it further.
Music written for this type of project will be completely different from more traditional forms of music, as it will have no repetitive rhythms (drums) and no obvious melody line. If it had either of these it would draw the listeners ear away from the most important thing, which is the voice on the CD. Any music that distracts the listener will have failed in it's job which is basically to be a bland, relaxing musical "pad" underneath the voice. This type of writing takes a special kind of skill as it is the complete opposite of what is normally required - ie, a great melody line, musical hooks and a catchy rhythm!
However, it doesn't have to be music playing underneath the voice. Sometimes, a completely natural sound like the sound of the sea may be more suitable.
Even if you think it would be helpful to hear the music in your headphones to "get you in the mood" and record the whole thing live whilst you are recording your dialogue, this is never done. The problem is that later on when your voice is edited, the music would be edited at the same point too, causing nasty glitches in the way it flows.
It's much easier to wait until you have a final, perfectly recorded dialogue track before adding the music, which will need to be faded in and out at the start and finish anyway.
ARTWORK & DESIGN
If you're recording hypnosis CDs (or similar) with a view to selling them, you're probably already aware that you're entering a crowded market place and will need to seize every opportunity to make your product more attractive than your competitors. Potential customers will see your CD covers before they listen to the disc, so it's vital that your artwork looks attractive and eye catching - If it doesn't, they'll probably ignore it.
There's also a standard safety warning that you should include on both the CD itself and the cover, about not listening to it whilst driving or operating any form of machinery (for obvious reasons!) as well as your contact details (usually your email and website)
We can help you with these and all your other CD artwork requirements - please click here for further details, or call us on 0208 466 7435.