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8 Ways To Take Advantage Of Your Audio Engineer

by Anitta Conlon on November 27, 2012

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Creating great voice overs is a process. It’s not just up to the voice talent to deliver. It’s a team effort that starts with the writer, goes thru the Creative Director to the Producer, who collaborates with the talent to get the final product. What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle are the contributions of the audio engineer. He or she can be a valuable asset in getting the read just right. It’s up to you to take advantage of them in every way you can.

And trust me, taking advantage of an audio engineer is easy… ;) Let’s count the ways.

Air Traffic Control

It’s a big session with lots of voice talent lined up. One talent is running late, another is early, you’re stuck in traffic, and your client is wondering what’s up. Isn’t it nice to know someone has your back? Helping ensure a smooth session from beginning to end is part of the job description of an audio engineer – take advantage of it.

Fresh Perspective

As a writer or creative director, you have probably been working on your script for awhile now. It can sometimes be hard to see the forest for the trees. The audio engineer is often seeing the script for the first time when the session begins. This gives them the chance to interpret the script with a perspective you no longer have and possibly bring new ideas to the table.  Chances are your engineer has a good idea or two – take advantage of it.

Did You Hear That?

Your audio engineer’s ears are different than yours. Not in a weird misshapen kinda way. More like a ‘Did-you-hear-that-less-than-pristine-audio?’ kinda way. You are listening for the style, the inflection, and pace of the voice over. What you may miss are the popped P’s, the sibilant S’s, the breaks in the voice, and the drop outs in the audio. This is especially true if you are listening in via phone patch. You can‘t always count on the voice talent to pick up on these blemishes either. That’s why it’s always good to have the ears of your audio engineer around to make sure that the quality of the read is up to par. Your audio engineer is really good at hearing the stuff you don’t – take advantage of it.

Copy Cuts

Voice over sessions often involve some script editing. As such, audio engineers tend to become adept at editing copy, particularly when the goal is getting the script in time. Listen, Creatives ‘create’. It’s not in their nature to remove words. Your audio engineer gets that and can help you identify the fluff. Sometimes less is more. Your audio engineer can help you bring that 75 second script in for a safe landing at 59.5 – take advantage of it.

Audio Wrangling

Great voice talent + great copy = great voice over, right? Most of the time, yes. But every now and then the ‘perfect read’ still needs a little massaging. A pickup or two seamlessly edited into place; A distracting breath removed with the click of a mouse; Finding a way to make that :61 second read magically become :59, All done while you wait. Your audio engineer has an awesome set of tools – take advantage of it.

Time is Money

Nobody likes a clock watcher. Unless that clock watcher is making sure you don’t blow your production budget with a bloated voice over session. There are many ways to turn a 15 minute session into an hour and a half. It helps to have someone there to make sure you stay on track and keep your session running smoothly and efficiently. Your audio engineer will help you save time and money if you let them – take advantage of it.

Lost in translation

In every voice over session, it’s important that the director and the voice talent communicate effectively. For those times when the talent and director seem to be speaking different languages, it’s good to have a third voice to bridge the communication gap. Often times your engineer will have experience in working with the voice talent from other sessions. This helps them to understand better how to push their buttons and get the end result the director may be looking for. Your audio engineer speaks Voice Talent-ese – take advantage of it.

Looking out for number one (and numbers two and three)

A good engineer has three interests to protect in every session. The first is the interest of the director. They’re paying the freight. They have a vision. Listening to the direction and assisting in bringing that vision to life is job number one.

The second interest is that of the voice talent. You’ve hired them because they are pros. Their opinion matters too. A good engineer will translate, mediate, and find solutions to the problems that crop up in sessions.

The third interest to look out for is that of the script. In every piece of copy there is a message to deliver, whether it’s price and item copy for a grocery store or an animated character for a cartoon. Your engineer should help you tune into that message and make sure the subtleties don’t get overlooked. Your audio engineer has everyone’s best interest at heart – take advantage of it.

Everyone has their own area of specialty. Success is ensured if you hire good people and let them do what they do best. Your audio engineer is there to help you get a great voice over. Rely on them. You’ll be happy you did.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Mapel November 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

This is a great article. All the engineers at ProComm make it happen for the client, as well as the talent.

Bob Jump November 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The Audio Engineer: The Unsung Hero. Period.

Shane Watkins November 28, 2012 at 7:16 am

Great article! My visual cartoon character of an engineer looks something like an octopus with elephant like ears and 20 fingers on each arm. Much respect!

Christopher Braham March 4, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I am an audio engineer(15 years) and VO artist, and I agree, great engineering is the glue that brings great projects together. Thank you, I think this is the first thankyou I’ve heard of. 8)

Kari Hoffman June 19, 2013 at 9:42 am

This is exactly the way we use ProComm’s engineers and it’s good to hear that we are optimally utilizing them. There are many times that the engineer has enhanced our final spot and made it a better production.

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