That was indeed some gratuitous crooning, but there’s always something to be learned by listening to the masters.
Pacing is an extension of timing and everything that we just covered above.
If timing is your in and out points, then pacing is the bit in the middle that makes sure you land on each point at the right time.
It’s easy to confuse it with phrasing or assume that they are both the same because phrasing is rhythm.
Rhythm is independent of speed/tempo; it’s important to remember that.
If you have a two-minute video with 90 seconds worth of dialogue, you don’t want a voiceover that rushes most of it and is left with 60 seconds of video but only 20 seconds of dialogue.
Pacing must be on point, and consistent.
You know that friend everyone has that does a perfect Robert De Niro impression, as long as they are saying, are you talkin’ to me?.
If they have to say a random phrase or sentence, the De Niro accent is suddenly gone.
(If you don’t, then maybe it’s you)
Well, that doesn’t cut it for a voiceover artist.
If they state that they can do a New York accent, it has to be a fluent accent, not one that fades in and out.
Consistency is authenticity, as far as your project is concerned.
When choosing a voiceover artist, pay attention to detail; listen to their examples from start to finish.
Don’t be sold on just a few words because they might be the only convincing words.
Clarity of Voice
Arguably, we could have put this right at the top of the list.
Before you can decide if a voice is good or bad, you have to be able to hear and understand it.
A common mistake of a bad voiceover artist is to interpret clarity as volume.
The problem is that not all projects/scenes call for yelling, but a good voiceover artist will understand dynamics.
Where it’s average conversation level, screaming, or whispering, the vocal has to be clear and perfectly audible.
Things like phrasing and tempo can also play havoc with clarity.
If the actor rushes a phrase, through bad taste or poor timing, the clarity suffers, no matter how silky smooth the voice is.
What you want to see in a good voice actor is good decision making.
That means knowing when to push and pull timing, and when to change dynamics.
A perfect delivery will often rely on subtle or extreme changes in dynamics at precisely the right time.
As a creator, you can’t write every last detail into a script; you can’t tell an actor to get 50% louder on the fourth word, etc.
It doesn’t work, and if it does, it will sound far too mechanical.
You have to trust the actor to interpret the delivery correctly based on your guidelines and decision making.
Solid decision making can make sure a clear voice stays a clear voice throughout.
A voiceover artist is nothing without perfect or close to perfect enunciation.
Most of us get tongue-tied at times or even take a lazy approach to certain words.
People often do it with numbers.
For example, instead of twenty-four, they drop the second T, and say something more like twenny-four.
Listen out for any problem areas when auditioning voice actors.
If you have any areas in your script that you think could be an issue, it might be a good idea to do a small test audition with selected text.
Check out some of the most difficult words to pronounce, and the usual suspects for problems.
Someone who is naturally articulate will always be a strong candidate for a good voiceover artist.
Being articulate is sometimes confused with using bigger words and hoping that someone will then ask you to explain something; therefore, you are the smartest person in the room.
That’s not it at all.
Being articulate means delivering a clear message, not just a clear voice.
It’s also sometimes confused with being concise, and keeping it nice and short, that’s wrong, too.
You can be articulate in 10 words or 1000 words; it’s about delivering the clearest possible message, that’s all.
The creator will script most voiceover work, so you might think that guarantees perfect articulation.
What do you do when this happens.
Script – Showing this Friday, at a cinema near you!
Actor – Showing this uh Friday, at a umm cinema near you!
Someone who is naturally articulate is more likely to deliver the written word more articulately than those who aren’t.
Versatility and Range
Just like on-screen actors, voice actors have a range of talent that allow them to cover more areas, some more than others.
You could argue that being versatile is far more important to the actor than it is to the content creator.
At the end of the day, if a casting director wants an action hero for a kung-fu epic, do you think they care if the actor’s CV also includes tapdancing and beatboxing?
In the words of every made man in every mafia stereotype movie, f’get about it.
If you only need someone to do one thing, our advice is this, hire the person who is the best at that one thing.
However, if you need someone for a longer storyline with changing dynamics, as we mentioned earlier, versatility might be necessary.
Alternatively, if you want to find someone who will be your go-to voice for multiple projects covering different topics and emotions, then plan smart and plan ahead; find someone versatile.
If a voice actor offers a specific accent, like a Jersey Shore accent, they should have some understanding of localized dialogue.
It’s easy to say all they have to do is read the script in a Jersey accent, but that’s not convincing enough.
They should be familiar with common local slang terms; that way, if it appears in the script, it won’t sound like it’s the first time they ever said it.
Experience is something that you should consider but do so carefully.
In every industry, talented people are being told they don’t have enough experience to get hired, and they can’t get the experience they need without getting hired.
When we said to consider it carefully, we mean think about how valuable experience is to you.
Is it worth turning away the perfect person for the job because they don’t have enough experience?
Probably not, so never ever hire someone purely based on experience.
Now, even though we would like to put talent first whenever possible, experience does come with benefits.
Everything that we have covered so far, from timing to pacing to clarity and articulation, is all connected.
Poor pacing affects your timing, which forces bad phrasing, which leads to a lack of clarity/articulation and forget dynamics at this stage.
Experience breeds confidence and consistency in both performance level and decision making. In addition, and experienced talent will be able to get the job done quicker than a novice.
With so many small performance aspects that can domino out of control, there’s a reason we have mentioned good decision making multiple times.
Whether you go for experience, raw talent, or a mix of both, do your homework and make sure all bases are covered.
Making any creative choice is so subjective, and that’s okay, but you need to know when to choose for yourself and when to choose for your audience.
It’s really all about the audience, the potential customers/clients in a shorter promotional video.
With a longer storyline, you have more opportunity to inject your own personality and choose a voice actor who you feel relates to you and your story more.
Either way, if you want a great voiceover artist, our checklist will keep you on the right path.
Finally, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t remind you that you most likely need some music to go with your voiceover.
Head over to our library of incredible royalty-free music, and don’t forget about our exclusive video preview tool.