Tuesday, 19 June 2018

How to behave in a voiceover session - as a client and voice over artist



With our fantastic voiceover professionals as well as our great clients we school of fish here at Big Fish Media, pride ourselves on running effective, targeted and quick voiceover recording sessions. We are lucky that our voices are experienced and know how to take on every challenge from verbose direction to even power cuts – we’ve seen it all.  


What should a voice do during a session?
When you are in a recording session in person or down the line from another studio there are several golden rules.

1.       Be prepared – sleep well the night before, do vocal warms ups, drink water and eat well. As you know you have a session that day, avoid going out the night before (we can always tell), avoid milk and dairy produce, avoid chocolate and avoid caffeine.
2.       Be prompt – goes without saying but if you are going to be late call or text or send a carrier pigeon to let us know. Arrive bright eyed and bushy tailed.
3.       Read the script – if you can and you have got the script (which sometimes isn’t the case – we know this happens) then please read it out loud at least twice to get your chops around the words. If you receive the script there and then before the session, get there early and read out loud as a level check for both the engineer and you.
4.       Listen – yes our wonderful voices read out loud but what they do most impressively is actually listen, assimilate direction and then speak. Stop, think, speak. From directions in a session to directions to a studio, stop and think and then act.
5.       Be nice – Nice? Yes, you are more likely to get repeat work by being both nice and professional. This also means avoiding touching the microphone. Just. Don’t. Touch. It!


And one last thing, if you are sick or other wise indisposed please let the clients know asap. We encountered an incident where the voice was sick and couldn’t make the session. It took over 5 different companies and over 10 people to sort out another voice for the end client. We have amazing relationships to pull off such a feat but it could have been more easily avoided if the original voice had let us know the day before instead of being late to their session.

What should a client do during a session?

Many of our clients are experienced and know how to direct. With others, we guide them as they may be inexperienced and not know how to direct the voice.
1.       Be prepared – ensure that you have read the script or written it properly, we have had many a session interrupted when the client reads the script or rather hears it read by our voices and then realises it makes little sense.
2.       Listen – what should you listen for? Pace/style/overall melody. The voice should match the tone of your brand and service.
3.       Direct – if you need to make a note for the voice then try and put yourself in their shoes, how would you convey a change of pace/style? What words or images would you use? How would you suggest picking up the pace but without it sounding too fast?
4.       Be nice – being a good client ensures that the voice your use will want to do a good job. They will do a professional job but being nice ensures they enjoy the job and that will be heard on the recording session.
5.       Use the time wisely – you have an hour but how many takes are you after that you can realistically work with? How many final Call to actions do you want in different styles?


If you need a voiceover and you think we can help then just call, the Big Fish Media team!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

What does a sound engineer do?


At Big Fish Media we have a small school of sound engineers. They interact daily with voices and with clients ensuring the highest quality audio for voice over recordings. But what exactly does the sound engineer do? They are the oil in the voiceover machine. They are the cogs that ensure that more than the tech stuff works. They are the gel in the voiceover salon of quality.

A sound engineer is charged with endless abilities to ensure that the audio for the client is professional and archives more than the client needs. They need to be technically skilled in operating the desk with all its various faders and combinations. They need to understand what needs the client has so that the best audio and performance works for them. They also need to talk to the clients and voices to ensure that the narration is better than best. But what else would they need? Below is a list of a few things that make a sound engineers day.

1.      Headphones: here at Big Fish Media we use the audio workhorse Beyerdynamic DT 100 Headphones. Closed back for no audio seepage and reliable. We have them all over the office as well as in the recording booth for tip top listening.

2.      Good chair: an essential item for a sound engineer. They spend a long time recording and editing everything from commercials, to video productions to IVR for well known multinational companies so a comfy chair is key. In fact anything to make their work environment attuned to working comfortable so they can achieve audio magic.


3.      Good ears and fast fingers: Sound engineers are always on the listen out for sound. From breaths to blips to mouth noises, they are the gatekeepers of good audio. They are the hum hunters hearing out any quirks or mishaps and always ensuring they can get a safety take. They have fast fingers, playing the desk and keyboards like a Beethoven of the Beats. 

4.      Fast thinking: Recording audio and especially voiceovers requires a high level of concentration. Not only are our sound engineers listening out to what works and what doesn't for a client but also adapting fast to an ever changing situation. Clients often want to hear takes back and the engineer needs to be on it to assess which take is wanted and what part of that take fits well with the other take. 
    
 5.   Director: Sound engineers need to be exceptionally engaged to have the confidence to stop a session, suggest pick ups and time checks with the client as well as ensuring the voice understands what the director and/or client wants. 



If you would like to get in touch with our team of studio engineers making our voiceovers sound exceptional please contact us. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

What directors in voice over sessions mean


Our 2000+ voices here at Big Fish Media have heard all sorts of direction in our countless voice over recording sessions over the years. In order to cover all of the clients bases our versatile voiceovers deliver fast, slow and in between reads in any emotional style they may be asked to deliver. We hear all sorts of notes from directors and clients. Notes are there mostly because a few reads may be necessary for commercials to fit the images. They may also be given as the director or client may have a different cadence or pace in their head. At times it could just be that they have an hour or two in the session and want as many options as they can get for any “just in case” scenario.
Here are some of our favourites and how to approach them.

1.  Read fast but make it slow
This usually happens because the copy is a little too long. In a 30 second advert situation it means that the voiceover read comes in at 34 or 36 seconds with a good pacey read. What can be done? Speed everything up? Taking out breaths? In reality it depends. In post-production, yes breaths and pauses and other spaces can be taken out and edited but for a good read maybe some parts. And maybe some script trimming so the voice over works.

2.      Make it more conversational
Ah this old chestnut. In many cases the director is after a fluent, non announcer type read and wants the deliver to be very human. An announcer read is the over the top radio style read that was popular back in the day. For those that recall, this read was all the rage from the 70’s onwards and peaking around the 90’s. It can be hard as professional voices will often have an announcer voice in their vocal tool kit and bring that out when the mic goes live. However the best voices are the ones who know the conversational read, which is simply being authentic and real and deliver it when the director says to bring it on.

3.      Give me two different reads
Many voices question why two very different reads are needed in a session. Simply comes down to choice. It might be that one delivery is fine but 99.9% of the time the end client will ask, oh do you have a version in a different delivery. And that is when the client can pull out another version. Two different reads, covers all the bases just in case. Our voices are pros are offering alternatives.

4.      Could you sound more taller/smaller/older/younger?
This is an interesting piece of direction. What does it actually mean? In many cases, they are just after another read, something similar but different. As many of our voiceovers are actors or used to working with characters, this can be a helpful piece of direction to get into a character a bit more. Maybe your normal voice or cadence is too youthful or old for the market place they are pitching the voiceover for. Some a change is called for. Just mix it up.

5.      Other strange directions include…..
“Could it be more orange please” “Hmmm maybe do it as if you were a vampire” “make it seem as if the world were gently flowing around you as you escape from the vortex” “Read it as if you are Luxury British” – no we aren’t too sure what these mean either.

To listen to our 2000+ voices, head to our website and get in touch for high quality professional voices.



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Want to know more about TV continuity?



There you are, at home, just about to start watching your favourite show Murder She Wrote featuring the fabulous Angela Lansbury (well at least we here at Big Fish Media HQ are). However you can’t recall if you have seen this particular episode. Help is on hand with the informative voice of the continuity announcer.  A little like the voice of God, the continuity announcer is that voice that informs you of what is coming up, a short breakdown of the episode or programme. As it does inform you of what is coming up next this is especially helpful to know if you should make dinner or pour out a cup of tea to watch it instead.  


This voiceover role is fun but with a weighty responsibility and a lot of work. The voice will indicate what is coming up next and then close a programme. Those chosen to take on the mantel of TV continuity are highly skilled and multi-taskers. They have to watch oodles of programmes before they go on air and get creative to sum up episodes without ruining the plotline and fitting it into a short amount of time.


The voices tend to write their own timed scripts, watch for the time they need to open their mic as the programme credits roll, talk and then settle back to wait for their next live mic moment. It can be very creative to work on a tight time script and continuity announcers are chosen for their ability to work well in a crisis.

There are times when a breaking news story will interrupt programming and announcers have to think quickly but maintain a sense of calm. Programme schedules will change very quickly and the continuity person will have to ensure they keep up to speed with the changes and work around that. We are lucky to have several of the major broadcasters continuity announcers on our books and they are a joy to work with. They are time fiends and can easily make long reads fast but sound slow and make slow scripts sound fast. They do it day in and day out. If you would like to work with some amazing narrators, then please give us a call. 



Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Big Fish Media Bowl just got a whole lot BIGGER


We are splashing about with delight at the moment here in Woking. Big Fish Media is expanding! Our school of voices is ever growing and now over 2000 + voices! Now our very own aquarium HQ is going BIG. In between recording and editing waves of audio projects for our clients this year business has been so good that we have had to expand! Our fish pond has become more of a pool with new staff joining as well as a new office in addition to the main office. Our two fishy mascots are overjoyed by the expansion to their habitat.  

Over the past few months we have been busy interviewing staff that know about the voiceover world so that when they deal with clients and voices they understand and are passionate about the best business ever. There really is no business like the voiceover business!
We are lucky to be joined by two new team members, Caroline and Jack. They join us at a very busy time and will be supporting the marketing and editing team weekly. Caroline is a trained actor and voiceover as well as a whizz on the phone and if she were a fish she would be a seahorse. Whoa there girl!  

Jack is in all trades and has experience in acting, presenting, copywriting, Dj-ing and even as a quiz master (good, we love a quiz here at BFM head office). If Jack were a fish, it would be a clownfish. Always a joker is our Jack.

We are delighted to have these fish join our top talent team.
It now means that in our 14th year of business we are seven strong team working hard for our clients and our voices. As all of our team have voice over experience it now means we have a combined work experience of 135 years! Some of us recall the heady days of cutting tape during edits while others are a whizz on anything to do with any DAW. Some of us have been booking actors and voices for years while others have been booking models. You name it, between us all we have more than likely done it and stashed away the tech equipment to prove it.  


We have also expanded with an additional office space. New desks and chairs have been delivered and top of the range computers are gearing up to deal with the jobs we have on hand. The pictures below show the before and after images of the new office.


What is next for Big Fish Media? Our voice aquarium is steadily growing with talented voices that are professional, engaged and always pitch perfect. We are working together with great clients creating great audio for the likes of Oracle, Sainsburys, Tesco, SAB Miller, BBC, ITV, Korn Ferry and many more.


If you are a voice and would like to join our 2000+ strong voice roster then please do read the website and follow the instructions. If you are a client and would like to know more about how we can help you with your audio projects be them video production, IVR, Commercials or anything else then please get in touch.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

How to Look After yourself and your Voice


Being a voice is the best fun you can have. All of us here at Big Fish HQ love nothing more than tackling a script bringing the words to life. Some days are long and after narrating thousands of words, it can be like a marathon.

Voiceovers are athletes, vocal athletes and like all athletes they take care of themselves holistically ensuring their physical and emotional well being are in tip top condition. Many voice jobs are long and even the short ones can become long if take after take is required. To meet the highest standards of narration all of our voices ensure several areas are covered.

Drink water – plenty of water, speaking is very drying to the vocal folds, voice box and mouth in general. By drinking at least two liters of water a day ensures the mouth is lubricated and avoids dry and sticky mouth sounds.

Learn to breath – sure we all breathe and all the time. But voiceover talent know how important it is to actually breathe for the sentence, phrase or paragraph they need to record. Learning to breathe will ensure the voice will pause appropriately making a cleaner and also easier to edit read.

Articulation exercises – practise these daily, the exercises will ensure that your tongue, vocal cords and mouth are stress free and ready to wrap themselves around word shapes easily without straining or stressing you. Releasing the tension in your tongue ensures a more fluid read.

Look out for your eyes – ensure you go to regular eye appointments. Reading long form narration in studios in dark or even bright light can make them tired and sore. Takes eye breaks and get some sleep to ensure they rest fully.

Check your ears – yes they are also connected to your breathing and vocal elements so keep them clean and watch out for them as well. If you can’t hear direction properly the director won’t be pleased.


These steps are a good way to keep in good health and ensure you stay in good voice. 

To choose our top voices please get in touch.  

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

What Do Voice Agents Actually Do?


Voice Agents are often the gateway to booking some very lucrative voiceover work. Here at Big Fish Media, we pride ourselves on looking after our school of voices, and ensuring they get a fair deal on voiceover jobs - especially usage. Agents are the intermediary and many clients prefer dealing with an agency as it takes the stresses and strains away when you have an agent that is experienced and knows what to do.
The UK Market has a number of agencies and no agent should ask up front for any fees from a voice. We don’t – all we ask is that you be great.

Day to day in an agency
Agents spend most of the day on the phone, talking to clients, working out which voices would work for the client, and checking availability of voices for a particular job, such as a video production or commercial. We at Big Fish Media are lucky - and at times our voices don’t even need to audition or send in demo reels. Their reels do all the talking for them and they are booked from that immediately for the corporate and commercial work that we do. The agents negotiate the rate and contract, book the session, and ensure the script is available in a timely manner. We also work hard at putting the client and voice at ease when the voice over recording session comes around. Then after the work is done, ensuring the edit gets to the client and the invoices are sent and paid! When we get paid, then the voice gets paid.


Seeking representation?
We are always looking for new voices, and we have a few shoals in our ocean of voices we are always looking to fill. We have a finely crafted admission process and, if you would like us to represent you, then please follow the instructions. We take voices that have worked before and are experienced. For those that have a home studio, we are looking for a technical ability and sound set up as well. We will test you and your studio out and we have a high quality threshold so only the best fishes

How to keep us happy?
Our most successful voices are consummate professionals, giving the client what they want and much more. They are friendly and can carp on about what they are doing. They take direction, they are conversational and they know how to be patient. So remember, look after your Voice Agents, and they'll look after you!