Voice over video: part 1

January 26, 2016 / By

While you’re planning your next video project, nailing the message and visuals is important—but have you considered adding your voice? All videos are created to share a message. Your own narration can help that message stand out.

Why should I add a voiceover to my video?

  • It serves as a foundation for the visuals.
  • It can help clarify what is happening on screen.
  • It helps you to convey the tone of the message, which may be lost with text alone

A good voiceover can give the viewer a sense of trust for the narrator and content; and can clarify what you mean by your message. Have you ever experienced a misunderstanding thanks to not being able to hear someone’s tone via text messages? Voice adds an extra dimension to video stories which clarifies and strengthens your message. Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.46.02 PM

Don’t grab the mic just yet!

As with any step of the video creation process, some prep work is needed to make sure you’ll get the best quality to keep your video looking (and sounding) professional.

Write a script

Writing a script will help you identify emotions, characters, and core messages. Some seasoned pros can wing it, but you may find yourself quickly getting lost if you don’t at least write down the bullet points of your intended message. The voice of your video will be defined by the topic of the piece, but a good rule of thumb is to write the script with your audience in mind. What do they want to know? What are they likely to miss if they have to rely on visuals alone to interpret your message?

  • Avoid writing too formally. Keep your script conversational.
  • Your writing should be concise, and avoid big words you wouldn’t normally use in conversation. They’ll sound forced, and are likely to make you stumble during your recording.

Practice standing up!

Read your script out loud or, better yet, read it to someone. You’ll soon find that phrases that sound good on paper might sound different out loud. Remember to:

  • Read with the same intention and volume that you plan to use when recording it.
  • Try different inflections to drive emotion to key messages.
  • Make notes as you go along, and rewrite any sections that sound forced or awkward.

Find a mic and a quiet spot

Use what you have on hand, and upgrade your gear as you get more practice (and budget). A well-placed smartphone, camera mic, or inexpensive USB microphone won’t sound as amazing as a Neumann U87, but are capable of recording decent voiceovers if you follow some simple steps.

Pick a noise-free location

Smaller rooms work better than big ones. Recording in a larger room might make your narration sound echoey, especially if there are windows or mirrors in the room. Pick a space where you can isolate your microphone from unwanted noise. A closet is a great place to record, since there are usually a lot of materials that can absorb unwanted sounds. You might also want to try recording inside a car, but be aware that recording vocals while sitting down (rather than standing) can reduce the quality of your voice recording. There’s a reason the pros tend to record in stand-up booths.

Be mindful of your surroundings

Windows, air conditioners, and machinery (even your computer’s internal fan) can make noises that could affect your recording. Even if you can’t hear them, your mic will pick them up.

  • Locate air vents and close them or turn off the source.
  • Turn off any additional electronics.
  • Turn the mic on and listen closely.

If you hear a small hum during your practice recording, that might just be the sound of the room you are in. Record a small test and see how your voice sounds in this room. If the hum does not interfere with your voice, then you’ve found the right space! Now that you have a plan in place you are ready to record. With a script and a location in place now you are ready to start recording.

Next week we will cover tips on how to capture a clean recording and how to put it all together with your video project.

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