We recently put thousands of dollars worth of upgrades into each of the seven studios here at ProComm Voices. Yet with all the added processing power, sound cards and plugins, you could make the case that the most important piece of gear in each studio is still the telephone. It’s the connection that brings our clients in on the process to hear their words come to life.
Directing voice overs via phone patch has many advantages. For one, you hear the voice talent perform your script live, as it’s happening. There’s no need to worry about the possibility of missed pronunciations or incorrect interpretations. You are there to make sure every syllable is right on.
In addition, you have the opportunity to work with voice talent from across the country and around the world, all without ever having to leave the office. Or if you so choose, you can direct without ever having to go into the office in the first place. I was once in a session with a director who was on a ski lift!
As convenient as it is to conduct your virtual recording session over the phone lines, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure the experience goes smoothly.
Going hands free is great (especially if you’re one of those people who talks with their hands) but there are a few things you should know before you hit the ‘speaker’ button on your phone. First, in order to keep speaker phones from creating feedback, they are set up to provide one way communications. In other words, when you talk into a speaker phone, the speaker itself is muted. This means that if you are listening to a voice talent perform a read and you cough or make any other noise that the phone might pick up, you will temporarily cut off the voice talent. This doesn’t cause a problem in the actual recording, but if you hear drop outs it may be because of this issue.
For this reason it is best to set yourself up in a quiet room. Try and keep conversation to a minimum once the voice talent begins their read. Alternatively, you may want to get in the habit of using the mute button. This will allow you to talk freely during the take without disrupting the talent or causing drop outs in the audio. Just be sure to un-mute when you are ready to give feedback to the talent.
Trust Your Engineer
Listening to a voice over recording via phone patch allows you to hear the most important elements in the performance, but because phone audio is not full fidelity, it’s possible to miss some of the nuances. This is why it’s important to have an audio engineer you can trust to do the recording for you. Having an extra set of ears helps to ensure that there are no plosives on hard consonants like P, T or B. Also be aware that S sounds can sometimes get lost over the phone lines as well.
The More the Merrier?
Sometimes it’s necessary to bring multiple people in on a voice over session. Getting together on the phone is generally easier than getting everyone in the studio at the same time. But beware of the ‘too many cooks’ scenario. Directions to the voice talent can end up being contradictory or confusing if multiple people are giving their feedback. Consider having one director responsible for communicating the group’s thoughts to the talent, to avoid causing confusion.
It’s also important to understand that conference calls can have some technical limitations. Multiple conference call connections can sometimes cause a loss in signal strength making it hard for parties on the other end to hear the voice talent. At ProComm Voices, we find it works best when we initiate conference calls, or when they are set up through a third party conferencing system.
Take these tips into consideration the next time you set up a voice over session. You’ll have more confidence in the read and end up with better voice overs.