Monday, 16 July 2018

Recording a Voiceover Audition



We often get asked by various clients if we would provide demos to them. Our voices are speedy and as many of them record voiceover jobs daily morning, noon and night then we are more than happy to supply our clients with demos.


But why do they need a demo? Many clients know about our voices and have heard their reels. The varied voices on our books often have several reels showing off real voice, from corporate and explainer narration to commercials to video games and narration long form. These voice actors are highly adept at reading a script and recording a few lines. It takes real skill to sight read a few lines with no real idea of the context and only bring content to life. Our 2000 voices are picked because they are experienced and know how to perform and take direction.


When our clients give us copy and ask for a demo we select voices that we know will work well for them. In order to nail the job from a demo audition read on to see what we suggest;

  1. Confirm receipt of the email; often demos take a few hours to days to collate depending on the voice requirements that have been requested. We prefer the voice to confirm they have received our email demo request and preferably send it back by receipt!
  2. Record one clean take; the end client is just listening for your voice and how it fits into their large marketing mix so one take and you are good to go. The clients know that they will do various takes in a session anyway of different emotions so the demo is simply to hear their lines in your voice.
  3. Dropbox or email; ideally the voice pops it into dropbox so that the client can just send the links all together.
  4. To produce or not to produce? Some voices do production and often will do takes with production. If you prefer this as a voice, please do but please always send a raw version as that is what the client is after.
  5. Patience; Choosing a voice client side can take a while due to many circumstances. Our voices are patient and understand that it can take a while for projects to get off the ground.


So, if you need a voice and are after a bespoke demo then please get in touch. Our ocean of voices would be happy to help.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

How to get the best from a Voice Actor

Today at Big Fish Media we had a fantastic session with a client and voice actor. Maybe it was the stars being aligned, maybe it was the summer weather or maybe it was a collaboration with all parties completely on board with the objective.

The session was like any other session here at the Big Fish Media HQ. The client had sent the final signed off script over a week before and checking on the voice actors availability booked them. When the time came, the voice-over was in the booth, already prepared with script and annotations in the margins. They had read the copy and understood the emotional position, the pivot point and the aim of the copy.  Being able to lift of all the nuances of the content and convey that to an invisible audience is quite a talent and one that our voices are able to do with ease.

The client was also on hand and understood the copy and what they needed from the Voice Over artist. They had written the copy so that it made sense to speak and had directed sessions before. As with every voice over session, our duty engineer asked the client to go through the aim and objectives of the video production so that the voice would understand the voice over genre. Despite a technical script both client and voiceover developed an emotional intention that was perfect for this job.

Why was the session such as success ensuring both voice and client were happy with the results?

1. Timely and Signed off Scripts : In this way the client can be sure that they have the final version which is necessary for the voice to practice with. Too many changes late on mean that everyone gets confused and mark ups can lead to more confusion.
2. Voice actor talent : Quick to inform of their availability and as they are both talented and professional, they know how to prepare for a session, with breathing exercises as well as sight reading skills.
3. Client communication : The client understood how sessions work and what words and emotional stances the voice needed to hear to place their voice in that role.

The result? A great session with all the takes the client was after in the time they needed. The voice over was happy as they were able to add in their years of experience of this technical subject and know how to elevate the copy from just reading to story telling.

If you would like to have one of our voices engage your target audience with your brand, product or service then please contact us - we would be happy to help!

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

What can Voiceover Scripts teach us?



Lately we have had such an avalanche of jobs that we took some time to sort the scripts out. When we checked them all we found an encyclopedia of information. Our voices have narrated everything from financial forecasts, animal antics and even the Changing of the Guard as part of a London Tour. We love getting such a variety of copy.

This month alone our voiceover artists have been leaders of industry, Mindfulness Managers, Automobile agents and so much more. As we sort through the pile of scripts we have information that not only would stand you well in a pub quiz (Do you know the century when the concept of Emotions was documented?) but information that expands your mind.


Our voices on our roster acknowledge the importance of the words they read out loud, knowing that it will be for an audience that has to connect directly to the information in front of them. From blockchain arrangements and medical marvels, they each know that what they say must be understood by the listener, conveyed with the correct emotion. It ensures that the audience engages with the visual, text and product. We have seen pretty much everything in our scripts and we have learnt a few things about the information in scripts. With this in mind we felt a rundown of the best 5 things we have learnt from the copy we have seen:



  1. Omnipresent Voice Actors: We have voiced pretty much every single industry, product, brand and service. Our voices can be heard globally
  2. Expect the unexpected: Either a script will be changed at the last minute or words may be asked to be said in a different way than you are used to, simply to cover all option bases.
  3. Pivot Points: All copy will have pivot point from a serious message to fun and/or back again. Content usually turns on a penny and so the voice must be able to see this and voice accordingly.
  4. Check copy: Always check that the script is the correct one before a voiceover session. Our voices can sight read but it is always best to give the voice a chance to read the lines, especially if they are verbose and using technical language.  
  5. Information: Copy and content are there to provide information, to tell a story, to get a message across. As the audience is made up of multi learning methods (visual, audio, kinaesthetic etc) then give them as much help as you can. Include both text, visuals and audio to ensure you touch and engage them on the level that works for them.


We find it incredible that content in the right context can make words jump off the page and engage consumers. To choose your next voice for your audio project then please get in touch.

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.