You’ve spent a lot of time perfecting every detail in your video. You have gone through every transition, effect, animation, and a variety of other visual components to ensure brand authenticity and delivery of the right message.
But what about the voice-over? If the script is what you say in the video, then the voice-over is how you say it. It helps determine the pace and tone of your video.
So how do you ensure that your video has a suitable voice-over to augment the visuals? And how do you bring all the various parts of your production together to create a compelling story?
Here are some best practices for recording voice-overs:
Best Practices for Recording Voice-Overs
There are generally two recommended approaches for recording a voice-over: hiring a professional voice actor and recording it yourself.
In this post, we’ll look at best practices for both of them.
1) Hire a Voice Actor
The ideal option when recording voice-overs is to have a professional do it i.e. a voice actor.
Voice actors are experts that can provide high-quality voice-overs for your video. They’re affordable and most often deliver very quickly.
On average, voice actors can deliver a recording within a day’s time (assuming you have a finished script), and it usually costs around $150-$250 for one page of script or two minutes of audio.
In fact, most voice actors will give you a quote based on the length of your script. And some even offer editing services to help improve the language of your script and make it sound better.
There are plenty of voice-over websites to choose from, which let you put up jobs and help you find the right talent for your video. Here are a few that GoAnimate partners with:
Note: You can pick one of these voice partners at any time from the right-hand side in the GoAnimate videomaker itself.
Things To Keep In Mind
Now that you’ve started looking for the right voice-over talent, let’s go over some guidelines you should keep in mind throughout the process:
Share detailed information about your video.
Lets face it, the voice actor you choose may have worked with companies in your industry in the past. But chances are they aren’t completely familiar with your industry, audience, or company. So it’s your job to educate them.
When you reach out to a voice actor, be sure to share as much relevant information as possible.
If you want your voice-over to sound professional and conversational, let the voice actor know. Want industry-specific jargon to sound natural in the voice-over? Make sure the voice actor is aware of any relevant industry terms in your script. Share information on how to pronounce the terms and what they mean (technically and in plain-English).
Annotate your script.
Want the voice actor to pause between specific phrases or words? Make a note of it in the script. Need to emphasize a point? Bold the relevant text.
Voice actors want to deliver a high-quality voice-over that suits your video needs, so don’t hesitate to get specific with your comments. However, you do want to make sure that any notes you include are discernible from the script itself, so make the distinction clear for the voice actor.
You can either use the “Comments” feature available in most document programs, or even italicize the text within the script itself and ask the voice actor to reference them (and not read it in the final voice-over).
Focus on the quality of the audio.
Once you’ve received your voice-over, make sure that the quality of the audio is up to par. Listen for any pops or sound distortions.
Make sure you can understand what the voice actor is saying and that their pronunciation is correct, especially for relevant industry terms. Check the voice-over for a consistent tone, and make sure it matches the pace of your video.
Lastly, listen for any background noise that could distract your viewers.
Wrapping It Up
Voice actors are professionals and they know how to make changes to inflection, tone, diction, pace and more. So don’t hesitate to ask them for another recording or minor edits.
It’s important to note that most voice actors will offer a courtesy re-recording or make minor edits without charging you more. But they may expect a renegotiation if you make significant changes to the script or want multiple versions of the voice-over. Be sure to clarify the terms and costs ahead of time.
2) Record the voice-over yourself
If you don’t have the budget for a voice actor, you can always record the voice-over yourself. However, recording voice-overs requires some basic equipment like a good microphone, a laptop or computer, and audio recording software.
Use the right tools
They say a worker is only as good as their tools, and we couldn’t agree more. So before you start recording voice-overs, consider investing in the proper technology.
The first component is a good, reliable microphone.
For the most part, microphones can be split into two groups: condenser and dynamic.
- Condenser microphones sound richer, but they also tend to pick up more ambient noise. So if you’re using a condenser microphone, you should record with them in a quiet space.
- Example: The AT2020 is a great example of an affordable condenser mic, and one that we use at GoAnimate.
- Dynamic microphones are better used for sub-optimal recording conditions because they tend to pick up less ambient or background noise. However, you do have to sit noticeably closer to these mics, which can result in them capturing audible breaths.
- Example: The ATR2100 is a great and affordable dynamic mic.
These are just two options to get you started. You can also check out other popular microphones such as the Blue Yeti, which is popular among YouTube vloggers and streamers.
Another important factor to consider when buying a microphone is the microphone polar pattern or mic pattern. The mic pattern indicates how sensitive a microphone is to sounds arriving from different angles.
Here’s a list of common microphone patterns:
- Omnidirectional: An omnidirectional microphone is sensitive to sounds from a 360° field.
- Unidirectional: As the name suggests, these microphones are sensitive to sounds from only one direction.
- Shotgun: Shotgun mics are long, cylindrical microphones that are great at picking up sounds in front of it, while rejecting sounds to the sides and rear. These are commonly mounted on cameras and booms.
- Cardioid: Cardioid microphones are the most common unidirectional mics. They are named as such because of their sensitivity pattern, which is “heart-shaped.” They are also the best suited for recording voice-overs.
Another important component in your recording setup is a pop filter or pop screen.
Pop filters reduce or eliminate the “popped” P and B sounds that are common in most audio recordings. They elevate the quality of your audio and are pretty affordable, usually around $5 – $10.
The last piece in your recording setup is the audio recording software itself. At GoAnimate, we use (and recommend) a tool called Audacity.
Audacity is easy-to-use, has intuitive editing features, and supports multiple audio file types. The best part is, it’s free.
Things To Keep In Mind
Now that we’ve covered the technology you should be using when recording voice-overs, let’s go over some best practices:
Practice before pressing ‘Record’.
Reading your script can require a few trial runs. A good approach to ensure high-quality audio is to read the script out loud and familiarize yourself with it before you hit ‘Record’.
Get comfortable with the words, find the right pace, manage your breath, and most importantly get used to the message you’re communicating. The more you practice, the less likely you are to slip up while recording the voice-over.
Back off the mic and project your voice.
When recording your voice-over, be sure to sit or stand a few inches away from the microphone and project your voice. Doing so will avoid audible breaths, as well as random mouth sounds, such as saliva moving. Yes – this can get picked up on mic!
Consistently projecting your voice will also enable you to deliver a more dynamic, expressive read, resulting in a better quality recording.
Use consistent subject-mic placement.
A common issue with voice-overs is the lack of a consistent subject-mic distance from take-to-take. As the name indicates, the subject-mic distance is the distance between you and the microphone.
Simple movements like sliding a chair with wheels, leaning forward or backwards, and adjusting your posture can change the relationship between your voice and the background ambience. This can result in your takes sounding quite different from each other and they won’t edit well together.
The key is to get very comfortable in your sitting or standing position while warming up, so that your subject-mic placement will remain consistent from take-to-take.
Even the best of voice-over recordings are bound to have some audible breaths or background noise during pauses. So how do you remove these?
Record about 30 seconds of ambience or “room tone” before or after recording your voice-over. You’re doing this because the room you’re recording in is not perfectly silent. But while editing you may open up “cracks” of total silence between the takes. You’ll need this ambience to smooth over these cracks, making them undetectable to your listeners.
Note: Make sure there isn’t any outstanding background noise like an air conditioner, vehicle passing by, or door opening / closing when recording the ambience. The goal is to match the ambient noise in your track.
Trim heads and tails of audio clips.
Using a pop filter can help reduce the “popped” sounds commonly found in audio recordings. But you’re still bound to hear certain “pops” or audible sounds before and after your voice-over.
So remove these start and stop “pops” and other audible sounds by trimming the beginning and end of your voice-over. This can also help with the pace of your audio / video.
Normalize audio clips.
One of the best features of Audacity is the ability to normalize your audio clips. “Normalizing” your voice-over recording creates consistent volume throughout.
Simply select the entire audio recording in Audacity. Click “Effect” in top navigation menu, and select “Normalize” from the drop-down.
Press “OK” and your voice-over will now have consistent volume throughout.
Listen for noise.
As you record your voice-over, listen to the playback. Listen for any buzzing or other noise and make sure the audio quality is good.
Doing this will allow you to identify any issues with your recording and ensure a high-quality voice-over.
Wrapping It Up
Recording voice-overs yourself can seem intimidating at first, but the major benefit is that you can record as many takes as you want for free. Plus you know the material better than anyone else, so you’re more likely to give a more informed read.
Keep your script handy as you record your voice-over, and focus on reading it with a consistent, conversational tone. Don’t be afraid to express emotion when relevant and most importantly, make sure your viewers can understand what you’re saying.
Adding great audio will help give your video a finished, polished touch. And the best way to achieve that is by recording your voice-over in a quiet room with the right equipment or by enlisting the help of a voice actor.
Once you’ve recorded your voice-over, check out this post on how to best import your audio files into GoAnimate.
For more helpful tips and tutorials, you can also check out our Help Center.