Be very wary of over producing your voicetalent !
Over another lockdown weekend I found myself revisiting Toast of London. If you haven't seen it then check it out on Netflix now. The premise, out of work actor Stephen Toast is looking for work and taking any voice work he can get with many mishaps along the way. Perfectly played by Matt Berry, and clearly extra funny to those in the industry, poor Stephen shines a spotlight on a real problem that is sometimes found in the studio.
With his sessions being produced by the hapless ( can you hear me ) Clem Fandango, Stephen is directed over and over and over on the same line until each time it simply sounds plain odd.
I've touched on over production before, its a real dislike of mine and often heard, especially on television commercials. Picture this, you've paid 100,000k for your talent to come in and say a four word tag line - of course you want them so say it 10,000 times to get 'the best take'. This can be a recipe for disaster. If you have booked the right talent with a great distinctive campaign chances are, after a proper briefing, they will deliver the perfect take in just a few attempts.
By over recording everybody gets confused, the talent, the engineer, the voiceover.
I'm minded to mention a session I recorded with the incredibly talented actor, voiceover and all round gentleman, Nigel Havers. Hot footing it to the recording straight from the gym, Nigel had pre-read the script and had a copy with him. He asked a few questions 'notes' as actors tend to call them.
Levels set and off we go. A two minute narration, word perfect, all the right inflections, no breaths audible (how did he do that). As we go along I'm thinking that this was just perfect. Exactly what the client wants. Its a masterclass in vocal delivery. What do you say? Just make him doing again and again for the sake of it? Pick apart every line until it sounds like a patchwork of edits?
My decision is always to go down the honestly route so I simply said to him "We'll that is an incredibly good read, I really hear nothing wrong or off with this". Mr Havers replies in a very gentlemanly manner "why thank you most kind". I continue " I think based on that performance why don't we record a slightly slower version and a version that is a touch more animated just in case something should change in the edit" the reply "Oh of course no problem"
The result was three perfect reads in differing styles, a very happy client ( who incidentally chose the first take ) a stress free experience and a rewarding session for all.
"Anything planned for the rest of the day" I ask. "Well not much, just relaxing and back on stage in the West End tonight". Class, pure class.
Now I'm not suggesting that every session will be as simple or straightforward but I firmly believe that showing up prepared and choosing a voiceover that you have confidence in nearly always yields the result you are looking for.
Finally remember - value is not determined by the amount of time you hold your voiceover in the studio for, it is determined by the quality of the result that you get.
Nigel Havers is currently starring in the ITV Drama 'Finding Alice' Sunday nights at 9pm.