THE RIGHT VOICE
Published October 23, 2011
The right voice!
Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a request for an audition from someone that says they are looking for “the right voice” for their company, and would I provide them with an audition. No direction for style, tempo, timbre, attitude, etc. But still, they’re looking for the right voice.
I must confess that more often than not I just ignore those requests.
Now, I have the GREATEST clients in the world. I mean that! I love working for my clients. We’ve established a working relationship and I consider them personal friends. But when I get a request from a new potential client seeking “the right voice” I have to wonder what that means!
I’ve come to realize that generally that means that the client doesn’t exactly know what they’re looking for. And sometimes it just means they are looking for samples to give to their client.
OK. That’s cool. But there are a few things to consider when requesting such an audition.
1. How will you know you’ve found the right voice? Tell us voice talents! If you don’t know, how are we supposed to do our best job for you?
2. Good voice talents are actors. They feel the script. They interpret. They perform. What do you want us to feel and interpret? What will make it a memorable performance?
3. Voice actors are much like stage actors. We need direction. We need character definition. We need “motivation.”
4. We need for you to explain your directions. What do you mean by “intellectual surfer dude?” Or “disenfranchised hip guy?” Or the direction I recently received for a horror movie: “caustic zombie.”
5. Vague definitions simply tell us that you’re not real sure what you’re looking for. It’s sort of like going into the paint store and saying “I’m looking for the right color of paint.”
The other day I had two back-to-back live sessions. The first one said, “I want a conversational read like you’re just sitting around with some friends talking about this.”
After a couple of tries, I figured out what voice he was looking for and we got the job done.
In the next session, the client also wanted a conversational read. I gave him pretty much the exact voice I had just done for the previous client.
“NO, that’s not it!” he let me know. And he kept hammering me about wanting a read that was more conversational. I kept trying different things, still getting nowhere. I finally asked, “Do you mean conversational like you talk?”
“Yeah,” he said. So, I did my best impersonation of him reading his own copy.
“That’s it,” he exclaimed. And one take later we were done.
I love sessions where a new client is on an ISDN hook-up or phone-patch. LOVE ‘em! That’s when I find out what the client is really thinking and hearing in his/her head. There are far too many nuances in a script that need clarification and direction to just leave it up to the voice talent and hope for the best. In a live session, the client can actually read the copy the way they are interpreting it, and things go a lot smoother!
Yes! Read it to us! It helps us know what you’re looking for!
For example, do you want that phrase to end with an “up” or “down” feel. What kind of emphasis do you want us to make on particular words? Just underlining a word isn’t enough direction. Not to mention putting a word in italics or a different color. Who are you trying to reach with your copy?
One of the directions I giggle at is “movie trailer voice.” Really? Which “movie trailer voice?” There are about 6 different movie trailer styles: Fear, Drama, Documentary, Romance, Humor, and Tongue-In-Cheek. Then in each one of those categories there are the Four T’s to consider: tonality, tempo, temperament and target. I must admit I have wasted time just for grins submitting dark drama movie trailer copy with a romance or tongue-in-cheek read. I know, my bad.
So, please, help us voice talents help you. We really do want you to find the right voice. And we hope it’s us (me). But we need you to paint the picture as realistically as possible for us.