Prep for Narration Recording Sesssion (Studio)
My team and I are in the final stages of post production on a documentary film. We've booked an amazing voice talent to narrate the film and are prepping for the session in a few weeks. My question - apart from formatting the script (font and spacing) for his role, is there anything else we need to have ready? Do we provide sound engineer a cue sheet or something similar to ensure we are hitting the timing of our temp track?
We've already built a spreadsheet that we'll have on hand to ensure we've hit everything and that we are ball park on delivery speed and performance. Any other advice on how to be best prepared?
We have a call set with the studio and I would assume that we will get information on assets they need to prep on their end. I'd love to get a sense of what that may be before we jump on the phone so I am not blindsided by anything.
Cheers and many thanks for your help!
Hello Cam and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
A few things you may already know, but may want to tell the engineer. Record wav files at 48kHz, 24-bit if they can. 16-bit is OK. (I'm presuming that your system accepts 24-bit 48kHz Wav files.)
DON"T CAPITALIZE THE SCRIPT THINKING IT WILL BE EASIER FOR THE NARRATOR TO SEE AND READ. Humans recognize words by their shape as much as by the letters. Capitalizing removes the shape.
If you'll just be getting the raw footage from the remote record, a script for the engineer is not required but will be helpful to let him/her know what's going on.
Having the talent slate each take, scene of file, including pickups will help you if you or they will be editing.
Do I understand that you're trying to get the narrator to read to certain times based on your video edits?
That may mean you have recorded a scratch track to do your edits. Don't expect the narrator to do the best job by confining him/her to your timing. Typically, the narrator's emphasizes by changing pace; slowing to make a point. If the scratch track against which the video was cut does not do the same, your timing will be too short for to allow for proper delivery. Having said that, most professional narrators can change the speed at which they read to some degree, but at some point the power of the performance is diminished.
Also, consider "breathing space." Not space for the narrator to breathe, but space between what the narrator says to allow the thoughts to sink in for the viewer. I re-narrated a script for Nat Geo some years back about the French Foreign Legion. It had been translated from French to English and every video clip was timed for me.
Because they didn't allow breathing space, my narration was like a continuing flow of words that never stopped, for the WHOLE HOUR. It was, very quickly, exhausting to listen to.
It takes a while for everyone to get in sync. What I usually do, after the entire script has been recorded is to go back and redo the first page. The narrator is warmed up and knows the script a lot better.
If your script is not written with contractions, e. g. I'm, they're, you'll, can't, don't, PLEASE allow the narrator to make contraction. Otherwise your script will be unnatural and stiff.
Hope this helps. Break a leg!
Cow Audio Forum Leader (and narrator/producer)
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TY many thanks for your words of wisdom! I think we are on the same page and in good shape.