The internet has changed everything. Even, voiceover. These days it seems that anyone can buy a low cost microphone and pre-amp and set themselves up in the world of voiceover.
However, while you can buy low-cost equipment, you can’t buy experience and training. Not for any amount of money and not with one-click in the next hour. That takes practice. Time. Patience. Persistence. More practice, more time, more patience. More persistence. A process that never ends.
It’s best illustrated with the Picasso Napkin Story:
Picasso is sitting in a Paris café when a fan approaches the artist and asks that he make a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso acquiesces, draws his dove and promptly hands it back to his admirer along with a request for 20, 000. The fan is flummoxed. “How can you ask for so much. It took you a minute to draw this.” To which Picasso replies, “No, it took me 40 years.”
Nothing can make up for the years spent failing, making mistakes, picking yourself up again and continuing to grow and develop. It takes years for a single human being to become the collection of beliefs and psychology that they are. It takes the same amount of time and more to unwind what is not helpful in order to be able to deliver copy that really makes the audience feel like they are in conversational intimacy with a human and not a robot.
That skill to really connect with an audience while talking into a microphone in a padded booth is often overlooked. Just like the fallacy that someone, anyone could walk in off the street and act in a play or a film. They can’t and neither can anyone buy a microphone and be effective at the rigorous demands of voiceover from day 1. Many mistakes and a steep learning curve lay ahead.
So what does a trained actor bring, that you can utilise on your voiceover project:
Years of training and practice mean that not getting it first time, not hitting what the client may have been after has happened before. This is a creative endeavour, meaning the path to where we are heading is constantly being explored. There are so many ways to say “There for you. Always." as the strap line to a commercial. An experienced voiceover will give you options and be constantly looking for more, knowing that it’s ok they didn’t hit it first time.
It such a simple and difficult task to be in a padded booth talking into a microphone, and yet believe and feel with your body that you are relaxing on the Mediterranean, connecting with your friends. That you are indeed talking to real people, rather than a microphone. This skill takes time to develop and an experienced voiceover can make any words real, playful and full of life by making them mean something deeply personal to them.
Having spent years and decades doing it daily, an experienced voiceover knows that this isn’t just another project. It’s yours. It means something to your client. All that training and skill is going to combine to make this the best film, e-learning project, gaming or animation project yet.
There’s nothing worse than a new voiceover artist not understanding 44.1khz, raw format or how to enable a live directed session. Years of experience produce an efficiency and workflow that cannot be bought. You need to audio back by Thursday? Chances are a pro will have it back by Wednesday with everything you asked for.
Along with being able to connect and make the copy come alive in number 2, a trained actor can slip from one accent to another (Standard American – RP – Australian), can sight read volumes of text and elevate simple copy to another level.
Above all, a trained actor brings a vocational calling to the work. They are not just in this for a quick gain. They are there for the long haul, as fully invested in the quality of the work as you are and giving everything they have got to make sure the client gets so much more than they expected.
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Paul Mclaughlin © Versatile Voiceovers