Voice over techniques

13 replies [Last post]
ddmurphy
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Joined: Mar 21 1999

I am going to try and do my own voice overs for part of my own holiday video I am editing. Can someone give me some advice on producing decent sounding audio. The script I can do but my voice is too high pitched and nasal. I would like it to sound like Laurence Olivier or Paul Vaughan. Can this be manipulated by some audio software or do I need a voice coach!?

David Murphy

Ned Cordery
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Joined: Nov 7 1999

Why not get someone with a good voice to do the narration for you? You must have a friend or colleague who has a voice better suited than yours. Even so, good narration is not only a matter of voice but also breathing, pacing, emphasis and consistency. Your film can easily be destroyed by an unsuitable voice. If you watch much TV the voice artists are wonderful and when the pictures are out of focus, wobbling or generally covering for the lack of content a good script and narration can sometimes make this rubbish work!

Ned Cordery
Goslands Studio

tim@work
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Joined: Apr 30 2001

Hi David,

I don't know what your voice sounds like so I couldn't comment exactly. But, when we used to do small voice overs in Sydney last year we used to just use a simple box when we didn't need to use a proper studio.

The box was usually about 18 inches by 24 and about 18 deep. You know, the kind you carry a load of shopping in.

The idea is that you put the open box on a table infront of you stood up length ways with the open end toward you and pop a small hole in the bottom front corner to feed a mic lead through. We then taped a thick piece of material around the edges, which is like a cape when we stuck our heads in. If we needed to read lines we simply bluetacked them on the inside of the box and popped a mini mag lite in there turned on its head to act as a candle.

The quality of the sound compared to that of being just in a room was shockingly good. Obviously not as good as a pro studio, but the producers loved it because it was so cheap.

Your voice will be a lot bassier and have a bigger presence, if this helps. As for the nasal bit, not sure. You may need to get a mate to help you out, but if you want a better sound stick his head in a box.

Hope that may help a little if you are on a shoestring.

Tim

[This message has been edited by tim@work (edited 29 May 2001).]

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Reading Tim's post had me giggling with hysteria. It conjures up all sorts of mind-boggling torture-chamber images. We need more of this sort of stuff.

Chirpy
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Joined: Sep 7 2000

Yes I thought it was funny too and was just about to add something sarcastic. (force of habit I suppose) But then I thought "so what, isn't that what movie making is all about - trying to make the audience believe the unbelievable?"
As gloria Hunniford once said when reviewing 'Jurrasic Park'. "The Dinosaurs look so lifelike, it's hard to tell the fake ones from the real ones!"
If you can get a terrific effect without paying an arm and a leg - good on you.
As for your 'nasal voice' David...Barry Manilow gets away with it!

Chirpy.

Chirpy's Big Breakfast can be heard on Radio England International. These are repeat shows (he's retired now) played Monday to Friday 8am-12 noon and repeated in the evening from 8pm-midnight. Also, Sunday 8am-12 noon. (Click link to listen) www.onlineradio5.com/2013/06/radio-england-international.html

Paul Rossi
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Joined: Jun 15 1999

David,

I'm sure many of us share your problems and concerns about how we sound on voice-overs, including me. I get around it (but not necessarily away with it) by using a good pro mic (on a stand) through my Mackie 1202 Mixer, and monitor myself using good closed headphones.

I write my script out (after timing it) and stick it on one of those stand up copy things which many computer operators/typists use.

It's amazing just how much you can change your voice by EQing a bit and listening to yourself very carefully.

After a few practice sessions I record the whole lot on to MiniDisc but often have to do many takes of the same lines until one sounds acceptable. It can be a pain but equally it can be quite a bit of fun. When you get the hang of it it not that bad.

Either before or after you import it into the PC you can easily edit out all the crappy takes and end up with the best ones (or the best of a bad bunch).

When it's all done I always ask the opinion of my wife - 'cos if it gets past her I know it can't be that bad.

Are you sure your voice is that bad or is it that you, like many others, are simply just not used to listening to your own voice? You may not like your voice but let's face it everyone you speak to has to put up with it.

If you don't have a lot of gear then do your best recording to tape/MiniDisc and do all your EQing using the software which came with your soundcard.

Be bold and confident and you'll probably be amazed at the results you can get - but if it's still crap then do as others have said and get a friend to do it.

Hope this helps.

Paul

You can't edit what you haven't got.

ddmurphy
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Joined: Mar 21 1999

Thanks for the replies!
I shall now prepare a box to put my head in and talk to myself. And if they come and take me away I shall know who to blame

Paul..what is EQing?

Chirpy..are you going for a record for the first mention of Barry Manilow on this message board!

David

Alan Roberts
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Joined: May 3 1999

Chirpy, you've just reminded me of a story from when I did jury service in Kingston a few years ago. David Attenborough (yes, that DA) was in my group. He told it thus:

He had just come back from some long and distant trek, and had done a short piece in Sussex. It was a one day shoot on the cliffs at Eastborne, showing models of dynasaurs flying in the updraft. At the end of the shoot, he got the express from Brighton to London, changed into DJ on the train and went straight to some important charity do in the West End. At some point he was accosted by a society dragon who asked what he'd been doing recently, and replied "I've just been filming a piece about dynasaurs flying on the South Coast", she replied "Oh yes, don't they fly beautifully?" and swept away leaving him speechless.

I'll cherish that thought and a few other like memories of that fortnight for some time.

[This message has been edited by Alan Roberts (edited 29 May 2001).]

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Chirpy
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Joined: Sep 7 2000

Oh NO!!!

quote:Chirpy..are you going for a record for the first mention of Barry Manilow on this message board!

I just did a full search - you're absolutely right David...How embarrassing. Now I'll have to dissappear for a while and come back with a new identity!

Alan,

You don't suppose she was related to Gloria Hunniford do you?

Chirpy.

P.S. David, I found a box you could've used - but I decided to hide in it!!!

Chirpy's Big Breakfast can be heard on Radio England International. These are repeat shows (he's retired now) played Monday to Friday 8am-12 noon and repeated in the evening from 8pm-midnight. Also, Sunday 8am-12 noon. (Click link to listen) www.onlineradio5.com/2013/06/radio-england-international.html

Paul Rossi
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Joined: Jun 15 1999

David,

My apologies - EQing is just short for equalising, which means playing around with the tone controls and adding/subtracting bass, middle and treble frequency bands(as you would with the tone controls on your hi-fi) until you can get the sound you want.

You'll be surprised how much you can alter your own voice by doing this, but listening through good headphones will help you to get it right.

Sorry for the confusion.

Regards,

Paul

You can't edit what you haven't got.

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

David,
you should also be aware that different mics have different sounds. You may be getting a bad recording because you're using a mic that isn't suited to your voice.
The more you spend, the more choice you get, and I assume that you're on a tight budget.
Certain mics have the ability to generate a nice "woody" warm sound that others can't.
If you're buying a mic for voice overs, get a demo. onto a cassette or minidisc, and compare it with others.
Paul's right in that EQ makes the hell of a difference.
Play around with EQ, mic placement (boxes!) and rooms. Sitting in the srare room facing books or curtains, with a clothes airer draped in a duvet will change the accoustics dramatically. The worst room is a cube, followed by a square, better if it's oblong. Not many people have triangular rooms, but they're better still.

set something up, monior on cans, very loud - so that they drown out your skull transmitions. Then move around the room getting closer to the mic, speaking offf-axis, etc. you'll discover a whole range of sounds (Some pretty bad)
If you fing that you're "popping", pull a wire coathanger into a diamond / square and cover it with a pair of old tights (empty!) Stick this between you and the mic and you'll be able to get closer, and so get a more intimate sound without popping.
dave m

Paul Rossi
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Joined: Jun 15 1999

David,

Also try checking out sites from Microphone manufacturers for advice. Below is one for Audio Technica who make some decent budget mics: http://www.audiotechnica.com/using/mphones/guide/index.html and here's another I've just found on microphone techniques: http://www.hotkey.net.au/~audio/bodsec04.htm

Check out the web for other Professional mic manufacturers such as Beyer, Sure, AKG etc and see what their sites have to offer in the way of advice on selecting and using microphones.

Good results on a budget are certainly possible but it will take you time to get it right. You will learn a lot by trial and error and remember no matter how bizzare the suggestions, they all actually have a place when it comes to finding that final acceptable result.

Good luck,

Paul

You can't edit what you haven't got.

Dave Currie
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Joined: Mar 4 2001

Sound advice from Paul. It really is amazing what can be achieved at the mixing stage...as long as the basic QUALITY of the
recording is OK.

John Willett
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Joined: Jun 1 2001

A good microphone is important as is understanding room acoustics and how it affects the sound.

Recording in a home is difficult due to many annoying things.

First sit on a room diagonal away from the room centre and walls and corners (listen to your voice in the centre of a reflective room and you'll understand why).

Keep the microphone away from the front of your mouth to avoid popping, slightly down and to one side can be good - but keep the mic. pointing at the mouth.

Sound absorbing material behind you such as curtains or sit in an armchair can be helpful.

If you have to use a table record across acorner to avoid interfering reflections from the tabletop.

I hope this helps.

Previous posting about the home made popper-stopper was good - buying the things costs about £40+

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.