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How to do a voice over

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Sam Carleton
How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 3:45:09 pm

I am new to the world of video production. I am coming from a still photography world. I have shoot a training video. Originally I was hoping to avoid having to do voice overs, but the audio cuts just are where I want them, so it is now time to learn how to do voice overs. I am hoping folks might be able to lend a hand or point me to some web sites or books that can enlighten me to the in's and out's.

At first I found it interesting that working with just a voice is more demanding than music, but after a moments thought, it makes sence from the prospective that human are much more sensitive to something being off when it is a single voice compared to voice and music all at the same time.

Good or bad, the software I have to work with is Adobe Soundbooth to record the voice overs. So the first question is, how best to get the audio into the computer.

I was learning about mic's yesterday and it seems that for voice over work, you do need a good mic. It looks like the right way to go is with a condenser mic. I am currently looking sE Electronics SE2200a or the USB equivalent sE Electronics USB2200a. I really like the idea of the USB2200a because there is no need for any further hardware.

Then I read a post here talking about how important a good Phantom 48V power supply is for the condenser mics and I read a couple of places that 16-bit just isn't good enough, you really need a higher bit rate. (I am a software developer, so I fully understand bit rate, etc). Looking for audio interfaces to get the sound into the computer, I ran across M-Audio’s Fast Track USB. I really like the cost, around 89 USD, but it does not have Phantom 48V power. The USB2200a can be powered by the USB port then than I can use the XLR out to the Fast Track USB. The question is, is the USB power supply good enough? M-Audio also makes a Fast Track Pro that does have Phantom 48V Power, but is almost twice the price 158USD, is this a better option?

The long and the short of it is: I want to get the best audio quality I can for between 400 and 500 USD. I would ideally like the mic to have a USB port so for the times I don’t need the best quality; I don’t need anything beyond the mic and the computer. What are your recommendations?

I have another very basic question: how do I setup for doing voice overs? It is my understanding the speaker needs to watch the actual video. He is not a trained voice over person, he is not accustom to working in sound studio’s at all actually. So what audio should he be listening to? The playback audio, his live audio, or should I be mixing them both back into his headset?

Sam



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Ty Ford
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 5:24:27 pm

[Sam Carleton] "The long and the short of it is: I want to get the best audio quality I can for between 400 and 500 USD. I would ideally like the mic to have a USB port so for the times I don’t need the best quality; I don’t need anything beyond the mic and the computer. What are your recommendations?

I have another very basic question: how do I setup for doing voice overs? It is my understanding the speaker needs to watch the actual video. He is not a trained voice over person, he is not accustom to working in sound studio’s at all actually. So what audio should he be listening to? The playback audio, his live audio, or should I be mixing them both back into his headset? "


Hello Sam and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I do a lot of VO work, with my own voice and with others. I use a $2k mic, $1k preamp with compressor, $1200 A/D converter and I record in a custom tuned room. I record in Pro Tools LE and remove the breaths for my clients so all they have to do is slip the files on their timeline. For example....
http://idisk.mac.com/tyreeford-Public/NAVAIR%20Master%20takes/NAV01.wav

My advice to you is to get a Centrance MicPortPro; $150.00
An EV RE20 mic: $600 +/-
Sony MDR7506 headphones
and take a good hard listen to your recording space, which you will need to treat with a balance of absorption and diffusion.

You're right, good sounding VO is more difficult than it looks.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Sam Carleton
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:08:34 pm

Ty Ford,

Being a still photographer, I know an image is all about light. When it comes to sound, it is all about the rooms acoustics. With respect to the balance of absorption and diffusion of the recording space. What would you recommend I use? Where can I go to learn more about this art?

With respect the mic you recommended, the Electro Voice RE20, it is a little outside my price range. Do you have any other recommendations?

Also, the biggest question I have is: What is the setup for the performer? The training video is of him speaking to the viewer, so he is going to have to match his lips in the video. Thus I know he is going to have to see the video, does he listen to that audio from the video or to himself, or both? Should I simply play the video back in Adobe Soundbooth or should I encode it to DVD and play the video via a regular DVD player? In the end, I am trying to figure out how I am going to have everything wired up when doing the voice over.

Again, can you point me to any web sites, books, etc that will help enlighten me to the task at hand?

Sam



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Ty Ford
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:28:25 pm

Being a still photographer, I know an image is all about light. When it comes to sound, it is all about the rooms acoustics. With respect to the balance of absorption and diffusion of the recording space. What would you recommend I use? Where can I go to learn more about this art?

With respect the mic you recommended, the Electro Voice RE20, it is a little outside my price range. Do you have any other recommendations?

>>There are always cheaper mics. Search for a MCA SP-1 for $40. It's only available on line.

Also, the biggest question I have is: What is the setup for the performer? The training video is of him speaking to the viewer, so he is going to have to match his lips in the video. Thus I know he is going to have to see the video, does he listen to that audio from the video or to himself, or both? Should I simply play the video back in Adobe Soundbooth or should I encode it to DVD and play the video via a regular DVD player? In the end, I am trying to figure out how I am going to have everything wired up when doing the voice over.

>>Sam, expecting him to lip sync to the video is unreasonable. None of your methods will work properly. At best it will take a VERY long time and you'll end up with something that looks like a badly dubbed oriental horror movie. Why can't you use the audio from the video you shot?

Again, can you point me to any web sites, books, etc that will help enlighten me to the task at hand?

You have much to learn. Google is your friend.

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Sam Carleton
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:44:54 pm

Ty Ford,

>>There are always cheaper mics. Search for a MCA SP-1 for $40.

So you are saying that there is zero difference in a mic that cost $100 less then the Electro Voice RE20 and one that cost $40? Wow!

>> Why can't you use the audio from the video you shot?

98% of the original audio is fine. There are two problems. Most important is that there was one or two pieces of info left out that we want to dub in using stills for the video. There is also one or two transitions that from an audio perspective are really rough. It isn't possible to go back and re-shoot those pieces, so I am assuming that VO would be the ideal way to resolve the issue. If there are other ways, I am all ears! Well, I guess I am reading, so I am all eyes!

The only issue I have with google is knowing what to search for, there have been times when I spend hours searching, I just am searching for the wrong thing. Might you have suggestions on keywords that I should search on?

SAm



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Bill Davis
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:36:30 pm

Sam,

Like Ty, I've been doing professional voiceovers for more than 20 years.

This is the thing...

Voiceover recording isn't a big mystery anymore than music recording is a mystery. You want a great recording of a violin solo? The most important thing is the VIOLIN PERFORMANCE. The best mic, the best preamp, the best recording environment : used to record a poor performance will simply yeild a great recording of a crappy performance.

VO is a TALENT driven endeavor. NOT, typically an equipment driven endeavor.

A basic mic, a basic recording chain, a less than pristine recording environment - all that fades away when the PERFORMANCE communicates clearly.

A professional VO talent is a professional because that person has had years of experience translating often mediocre writing and turing it into something that the average listener can comprehend. That's usually a matter of pace, timing, rhythm, interpretation and such. It's typically NOT a matter of which mic we use.

So don't worry about the gear.

Worry first and foremost about scripting things clearly and then about finding someone who can PERFORM that script properly. The equipment stuff is relatively easy.

Good luck.



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Sam Carleton
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 9:09:08 pm

Bill,

Thank you for the reply!

> Worry first and foremost about scripting things clearly and
> then about finding someone who can PERFORM that script
> properly. The equipment stuff is relatively easy.

I am fully aware that equipment does not matter, as I said initially, I am a photographer and there are a lot of equipment junkies in that arena. And you both are 100% right, it isn't the equipment, it is the talent that is using the equipment. As only a very minor side note, as I am sure you both are aware, poor equipment is only going to deliver poor results, irregardless of the talent.

But more to the point, the talent:

I don't have the option of finding someone else to do the VO work. The voice has to be that of the presenter, because he is the nationally sales manager for the company.

As I said before, 98% of the original audio is fine. There are three problems:

1: There was one or two pieces of info left out that we want to dub in using stills for the video.
2: There is one or two transitions that from an audio perspective are really rough.
3: When we shot the video he was a regional sales manager who has now been promoted to national sales manager. Though the lips won't sink, we want it to be current.

Assuming re-shooting is not possible, how to I fix those three problems? I am open to anything. My sole objective is to deliver the best possible video. If re-shooting is the only option, I would like to know that, too.

Sam



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Matte Blume
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 20, 2008 at 12:59:36 pm

[Sam Carleton] "As I said before, 98% of the original audio is fine. There are three problems:
"


Use the same mic and setup as when you shot the video.



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Sam Carleton
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 20, 2008 at 1:58:54 pm

Matt,

So you are saying the ONLY way to fix my issues is a re-shoot?

Sam



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Matte Blume
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 20, 2008 at 4:07:48 pm

[Sam Carleton] "So you are saying the ONLY way to fix my issues is a re-shoot?
"


I mean you can record the VO using the same gear as was used on the shoot.

The audio will MATCH that way.

Set it up at the same distance from the talent, under similar room conditions.




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Kathy Gleason
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 23, 2013 at 3:06:44 am

Thank you for this. I am a newbie, and one of the previous posts scared the daylights out of me! I don't want to drown in technology and loose sight of the goal.


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David Jones
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:55:40 pm

Hi Sam-

In terms of reading material: I recommend a book called "Audio In Media" by Stanley R. Alten, available at amazon.com. It's actually a textbook and is a great starting point for all-things-audio including voiceover techniques.

As far as mics, the RE20 is $399 at B&H, the same price (I think) as the USB2200a you were looking at. Though I have not used a USB mic, I'm very wary of them. Some things about them may be as good as the more expensive condensers (like the freq. range), but other things (like siginal-to-noise) may not. Like photography equipment, you get what you pay for.

In regards to your project, keep it simple. Watch the video with or without the talent as many times as you need to. Then write a script for the talent to read based on a rough timing of the video clip you need to have vo for. Then put it together in editing.

Hope this helps...

Regards,
Dave


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rob neidig
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 21, 2008 at 7:53:48 pm

Sam,

You will note that most people seem to not be answering your questions of how to do the fix. I'm not sure we all know enough about your project to be able to provide suggestions. I know that trying to record something new and match the lips as good as possible is going to look pretty bad, no matter how great your equipment is. Again, I don't know exactly what your project currently looks like, but the best way to avoid the lip sync issue is to go to some sort of b-roll, or cutaway, shot at the points where you need to fudge the audio. Do you have product shots, other shots of your host actually in a sales environment - anything other than showing the host? That will make any fixes much easier for you, and less noticeable for the audience.

That said, you've received great advice on the equipment. I, too, have done voice-overs for over 20 years and agree that the talent makes the biggest difference. That said, there is a base level of equipment that's needed so you don't get poor audio quality. I think everybody else has already covered that.

Good Luck!

Rob

Rob Neidig
R&R Media Productions
Eugene, Oregon


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Kevin Franzen
Re: How to do a voice over
on Nov 25, 2008 at 3:36:38 am

My degree is in sound and one thing I used to do as a student is advertise myself on craigslist and other websites offering free service for credit. One be advantage to clients was the gear I was able to get my hands on; the gear list was very extensive with top notch gear. Depending on your area, look up schools that offers a sound program and talk with the instructors. Many students are willing to help out for little or no money. It's a great opportunity for the both of you.

Good luck with your project.

Kevin


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