By Amber O'Neill
Have you ever looked back on a project and felt it could have gone better? It’s like that feeling you get when you get home from the grocery store and you realize you bought crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth… it’s not necessarily bad but it’s just not as good as it could have been. We can have the crunchy vs. smooth peanut butter debate another time; for now, let’s talk about steps you can take to ensure your next experience with your voice-over talent is a smooth one.
Trust your Talent
A scenario I see all too often is a stakeholder who would like a foreign language dub over a video timed to English. Many languages run longer than English, for example, French. An experienced talent will be able to tell based on the script if the audio is going to run over and inform you of the situation.
There are three common outcomes to this scenario:
1) The stakeholder will instruct the talent to record despite the warning and to just do their best to make it fit.
a) The talent will back out of the project as they do not want their name associated with poor quality voiceover.
b) The talent will proceed and the audio will come out sounding like a rendition of Alvin and the Chipmunks because it’s read at an unnatural pace.
2) The stakeholder will listen to the talent’s advice and cut down the French version of the script to accommodate the English Video.
3) The stakeholder will extend the video to accommodate the length of the French text.
An experienced voiceover talent is a fantastic industry expert you can tap into. If they feel they need to speak up about a potential issue, chances are there is merit to their concern.
Provide a Pronunciation Guide
Creating a pronunciation guide is key. Every culture, whether it be corporate, religious, geographic etc. has its own style of pronunciation or industry jargon. It is important to identify the preferred pronunciation of dates, industry terms, names, locations and so on. Clarifying these things early will prevent revision requests, unnecessary back and forth and missed deadlines.
An example from a recent project is: ISO 9001
I-S-O 9-0-0-1, I-S-O nine thousand and one, ice-oh nine thousand and one, etc..
When in doubt, write it out. In some cases a scratch track of the pronunciation or a YouTube reference could make a world of difference.
Don’t Over Promise
Working in this industry has conditioned us all to want what we need when we say we need it NOW. Being the customer service experts that we all hope to be, our immediate gut reaction is to say yes to the client’s rush request because we are people pleasers and we want to provide a good client experience. It’s important to remember that voiceover talent work hard to book jobs every day, and it's possible they've already committed their studio time to other projects for the day. When in doubt, double check. This way you’re keeping yourself honest and will avoid disappointing the client when you can’t deliver as (over) promised.
At the end of the day, we’re all working hard to create a memorable client experience. What are your techniques to ensure a project goes smoothly? We all know a smooth project is way better than a crunchy one… ♦
Amber O’Neill is the Commercial Account Manager at Voices.com. She welcomes your correspondence at