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How to Discern Quality Voiceover during COVID-19!

With the rush to set up professional home based studios during Covid-19 there has suddenly been an influx in the number of voiceover artists now working from home. That means there can be a lot more work on the client / producer’s end to find an artist that can not only voice well but also has a set up capable of producing audio that you can actually use in your final project. Not just something that has been hastily cobbled together lacking knowledge and experience. Which is what is currently in the mix out there. With so many new entrants to the market, how can you keep the quality high and know that your artist can do what they say they can technically to produce professional sounding audio?

Here are some tips to look out for when receiving auditions for your next project. They will help to determine if they are an experienced voiceover artist or fairly new in the current social distancing climate and how reliable the audio might be:

1. Their Studio Set Up and Dry Studio Sample

The most important aspect of any audition demo is the space and the set up. You need to be around for a bit to understand what sort of space generates audio that can be used in commercial projects. That means a solid booth either self-constructed (shying away from parallel lines) or one of the many suppliers like Studiobricks, Kube, Esmono etc. And gear that is known and trusted. Not always, but industry standard gear like Neumann’s and specifically designed studios are a mark of quality. The nest stage is not just owning these things but also being able to generate a professional sound. Broadcast quality gets bandied about a lot. But that has to be the quality produced by the interaction of the voice with the gear and the space. Which then leads to being confident enough to having a dry studio sample on their site and which they send off to clients in order to test their space and gear. Look for a dry studio sample on their site.

2. Clients + Testimonials

A voiceover that has been around for awhile will have testimonials that run a mile long, as well as recogniseable brands as clients. Look out for these as a sign of trust and quality along with the skills required to do the job. It takes a long time to understand what is required in the commercial genre compared to the gaming genre. And being able to produce take after take with variation and what you need to fit the project.

3. Are they giving you options and alternative takes in the read?

Does the voiceover give you more than one version in the audition and when recording? Or just one version that limits what you can do with it in the final project? Playing with elements like pausing, pacing, emphasis and more in different ways? Pro voiceovers know that the version in their head may not align with what you have in mind. So look for this in their demo and during the project phase to allow you options in the edit and the best ways possible of telling this story.

4. Social Media Presence

Take a look at their social media account. When did they open the account? How long have they been on the platform? When was their last post and how long ago? If you are very new, you can’t magic this up and show an active engagement in this industry over night. That takes a long time to develop and create. Look for an active and lengthy engagement on social media as the sign of a switched on and engaged voiceover.

5. Can they dial you in using one of the many applications?

And I am not just talking about Skype. Do they own and use the more technical heavy applications like Source Connect and ipDTL (though pretty simple to use once you know how!)? Part of a working voiceover artists’s arsenal is their ability to dial clients in from anywhere in the world using these standard applications. If your voiceover does not know how to implement the one you use, it can spell trouble ahead.

6. Are they offering to turn audio around for you RAW and MASTERED?

Getting to grips with the technical processes common in pro audio after the voicing part is over takes a long time. Things like Compression and EQ and making the audio sit well without it being heavy handed. That takes lots of practice to understand the finer nuances of it. It also is something that professional voiceover artists with experience can offer. Look for it as a sign of a voiceover who has taken much time, expense and effort to understand and implement sound audio principles.

7. Do they have consistent Brand Presence – website, demos, professional email, demos in their email?

There is a certain level of trust that comes with an integrated brand presence: website, professional email, demos in that email, with everything consistent across the board. It says something that a voiceover has a slick website where you can check their work, clients and brand. Contrast that with an email address. Who brings more trust from the start?

Most of these things cannot be manufactured in a month or two – they take years to develop and refine. You can get a booth up and running in no time with some forum reading on the internet, but the experience of refining and understanding how to actually make it work in order to produce superior audio quality is another story. Mastery always takes time. And you always want skilled artists on your team. Because everything just works better.

Ultimately, it is about serving our client’s projects and the characters within those stories with the most connected voiceover coming out of a studio with audio that has extremely high quality. Look for these elements to continue wowing your clients and serving them in the best way possible during COVID-19.

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Paul Mclaughlin © Versatile Voiceovers

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