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Once More with Feeling


When you''re working with offsite clients, they may ask you to edit pre-recorded v/o files sent with a hard copy of the script. Sometimes the audio files will be missing slates, or the slate numbers on the hard copy won''t jive with the recorded material. Each time the engineer stops recording in Pro Tools, it creates a separate audio region, but if a client directed the session over the phone and is keeping track of takes, the client''s numbers might not always match the engineer''s.

Also, the recorded takes that you consider best may not be the ones indicated as best in the script. If you work with a client who trusts you, you may be able to use your judgment and pick the best takes, either when it''s not clear which take was preferred or when your ears tell you that one is clearly better than what''s indicated. Take into consideration the feeling of the material to be conveyed and your relationship with the client.

Recording effective and compelling educational or technical copy requires that your v/o talent has at least a basic understanding of what it is he or she is voicing. Most listeners know when someone is just “calling it in,” and it''s painful to hear anyone read words with false inflection or inaccurate emphasis. Nor is it acceptable if you record the voice of someone who is tech savvy, but lacks the subtle skills needed to keep a listener engaged in what is often dry material. Find the right balance so that the material sounds authentic and keeps listeners interested. A touch of the right music helps a lot, too. If you use royalty-free music or sound effects, you can save your client some money.

Voice-over pro Rick Adamson suggests taking clients through a dry-run rehearsal on the phone for style and pacing. Then, to play it safe, he often delivers two full takes of everything, keeping the file clean for the engineer at the other end to compress or EQ as they see fit. “Gaining the trust of the client that you will deliver a quality performance is key. But once you're cleared for solo take-off, it's amazing to me how little equipment is needed to deliver excellent results. Like almost everything I send out, my audio is lightly de-essed by Adobe Audition 1.5, but not compressed at all.”

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