Voice over directing? Here’s how to be a winner!

3 min read

Have you ever thought of the importance of voice over directing? Despite employing seasoned voice actors who should know what they’re doing, voice actors can’t read minds. Getting them to deliver the best read for your project invariably depends on your guidance. Here’s how to be a winner at directing them!

Consider this: When we watch ballet, it’s easy to watch the ballerinas fly in the air with graceful movements and perfect postures. But how often do we pay attention to the ballerinos – their male counterparts –  holding them up?

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With voice overs, directing is often equally overlooked. Yet it plays an crucial part in successful voice overs.

Unfortunately, we can’t hire the most amazing voice actor and go on autopilot — letting go of the steering wheel.

If only it were that easy. 

Instead, amazing voice overs come from great talent, and excellent voice-over directing combined. Only when they work together — that’s when can you have the voice over of your dreams, and be a winner.

Just like voice acting, voice over directing is an art. It takes all the senses that a voice actor has, and guides them on the path of a cohesive and impactful product.

That means the voice over director needs to know not only voice acting, but how it can and should be applied in any situation. So it takes a lot to be a winner in voice over directing!

Know the actor

Firstly, it’s good to get to know the voice actor you’re working with. You’ll want to have a good idea of their vocal range, their natural tone, flexibility, timbre, and tempo they’re comfortable with.

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Something you can do is have your voice actor read a few lines. Immediately you’ll be equipped with good information. You’ll know how they interpret the script, and how you can work with that interpretation to create a winning voice over.

Maybe you find that your voice actor has a very powerful and grounded voice, like a 4-wheel drive churning through thick mud.

Knowing that’s their baseline of operation, you can have reasonable expectations and know how to work with the voice, and not against it. It would be unproductive to direct a powerful and grounded voice to be bright and cheery, but you might ask it to have less of a drive in the voice.

Know the route

Before heading out on any trip, it’s smart to check the map and plot your route. Otherwise, you find yourself in a random forest, or heading down the wrong way and wasting precious time.

The same goes for directing voice over. It’s important to know the script like the back of your hand!

The key phrases, the emphasized words, particular pronunciations, the time spent on certain ideas — these are all things you ought to know before going on your voice recording journey with your voice actor.

And on a grander perspective, what is the project asking for? Is the voice leading the information, or does the voice over serve as a supporting character? 

Should certain ideas be spoken more slowly for comprehension, or dramatized for emotional effect?

A voice over director should know the answers to these questions, and they shouldn’t be left for the voice actor to guess. 

Playing the guessing game is how you end up with frustrating projects, where the director depends on a voice actor who’s depending on the director. And neither knows what to do!

Guide, don’t drive

It’s super important to know the big picture of the project, and know your voice actor. But it’s equally important to guide the process, and not drive the production.

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That means you’ll have to be intentional with your language. You’ll find that encouraging things that you liked from your voice actor, and playing with what they provide, can go a long way.

It’s better to do that than to blatantly tell your voice actor that you don’t want x, y or z, or that what they interpreted was plain wrong.

Here’s an example:

“I really like what you did with this phrase, it had just the right warmth and earnest tone to it. Do you think we could sustain that throughout the read?”

That’s guiding. Here’s driving:

“No it can’t be that plain. You have to sound nicer.”

Trust us: don’t do it. One is just so much easier to work with, and to win with. The other is preparing to lose.

Speaking of guiding, you’ll often find that your voice actor can bring fresh, creative and relevant ideas to a script read. Feel free to ask them for their interpretations and ideas, you might find that their ideas inform your own!

Winner

Know your actor, know your route, know how to guide, and you’re golden! It sounds simple, but it’s actually full of nuance, detail, and hard work.

But if you’re willing to be patient, willing to put in the effort, and willing to honor the creative process of voice overs, then you’re sure to be a winner. We’re wishing you the absolute best!