By Jeffrey Hedquist
Get out of the studio. Go on, pack up some portable equipment, gather your actors and go to where the spot is situated.
Good radio commercials are stories which all take place somewhere – in a car, by a lake, at a breakfast table, in a bathroom, kitchen, field, forest – so go there. The sound will be more natural. It’ll stand out on the air because it won’t have that dry “studio’ sound.
Your actors will sound more authentic. The ambiance of the location will affect their performances.
If your actors are supposed to be in bed, have them record while lying in bed, or at least on the floor. It loosens them up, allows them to better relate. They may have to speak up to overcome background noise, or whisper more intimately if they’re nose to nose in a closet.
Whether your voice talent is in a shower stall, sitting on a couch, standing on a step ladder pretending they’re painting – each position places the diaphragm in a different position, so the voice will sound different.
Are they talking while dancing? Have ‘em dance. Are they wrestling, tickling, running, walking, climbing or hiking? Then have ‘em engage in those activities while they act out your script. Put that traveling couple in the back seat of a car while someone drives and someone else engineers the recording.
If the place has background noise, you’ll have to monitor your takes carefully, so the ambient sound doesn’t overpower the voices.
Trying to get a natural-sounding story from your client? Clip a mic on him to capture his words as he walks around his restaurant, store, warehouse, parking lot or dealership. Some people think and speak more clearly from the heart when they’re moving.
Thinking “out of the studio” can also give you ideas for commercials. Don’t just describe the new trail system through your town, put someone on a bike, wire them for sound and record their observations as they ride the trail.
Is this a technique to use on every spot? No, but once in a while you can lift an ordinary campaign to a new level by going out there in the real world.
© 2005 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.