If you do, I promise you that your reads will sound a heck of a lot more natural. (Benefit: session engineers will love you for it, too! More on this later…)
This very issue of ‘reading a script piece by piece’ was one of the first problems I experienced as a VO, and it’s why I’m writing this post: maybe there’s someone else out there who’s going through the same thing, and if so, here’s a simple solution that works for me every time. Maybe it will for you too.
Thankfully, I had already experienced this exact same problem as a drummer (not recording an entire drum part in a single pass), and the resulting drum tracks were little more than “Frankenstein-style” assemblages of mis-matched pieces of audio “stitched” together by the session engineer. In reality, I was relying on the engineer’s handiwork to “create” the final version of my drum tracks. Not my finest hour (or hours, actually!) Inside, I knew this wasn’t right. After all, what if I had to play those tracks live? Uh oh…
Well, the solution ended up being the very thing I was most afraid of: playing the entire part from start to finish without stopping. As you might imagine, it was tough at first, but it worked: the resulting tracks ALWAYS felt better when recorded this way. Nowadays, I’m able to apply this fix to voiceover.
So, let’s talk VO: If you’re anything like me, your hyper-critical ear is always at attention and listening to your every word, syllable, inflection, tone, vocal quality, volume, mouth noise, everything…and our tendency is to stop and re-read every single offending word or line, right then and there. I believe this is a huge mistake: There’s something to be said about the momentum of any read, and I believe that this momentum (or energy, if you will) is where the magic truly exists. If you feel that you “could’ve delivered that line better”, ignore the impulse to stop and redo that line. Keep reading. If you really MUST re-read the line, at least wait until you’ve finished the script, then go back and re-read the line. (Exception: if you’re reading an audio book, this rule goes out the window.) Unless you truly stumbled through a word or phrase, my guess is that you’ll end up liking the first pass just fine. Take a chance. Try it. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, a word about engineers. They’ll love working with us if we can deliver the copy as written: all at once. It makes their jobs much easier in the post production process. Long after we’ve gone home, they’re having to cut our VO into an existing audio project that likely includes music, sound effects, and perhaps other VO from around the world, and if we can minimize their workload by delivering solid takes, we’ll get called again and again. Time is money, and if they have to spend an extra hour sifting through our three or four versions of every line in a script…well, you know.
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