Voice over video: part 2

February 1, 2016 / By

This is the second installment in our voiceover series. Part 1 covers how to choose the proper gear and location. Now that you’ve found the right recording space, it’s time to set up your gear and get ready to record. Grab your computer, headphones, mic, script, and a glass of water (or two).

Technical setup
  • Plug in your mic and choose it as your input source in your computer’s preferences.
  • Avoid distractions (or notification noises)! Close any unnecessary apps and disable notifications.
  • Open your recording app of choice. You can use free software like Quicktime, Sound Recorder, Audacity, or WeVideo to record your narration.

Recording with a phone? Turn it to airplane mode to prevent unwanted interruptions. Then, open your voice memo app and run a quick test. Remember to monitor the audio.

Keep the mic close
  • The microphone should be pointed at your mouth but, depending on how your voice carries, may sound better if you position it just above or just below your mouth. Test a few different configurations to hear what works best for you.
  • A good quality mic should be very close to your mouth. An inexpensive mic or phone should be positioned a few inches away to avoid distortion.
  • Don’t touch or move the mic (or the surface it rests on) while you are talking. This will translate into a loud audio interference in your recording.

If you are using a camera to record the voiceover, locate the mic and follow the steps above. You can remove the visuals captured by the camera in the editing phase.

Monitor the audio levels

The level at which you record your audio is very important. If it is too low, your audio will have overwhelming background noises when you turn the volume up. If it is too high, you’ll hear distortion.

  • With your headphones plugged in to your device, say your first sentence and listen to the volume. Open your computer preferences and adjust the level until you get the loudest source that does not sound distorted.
  • Be mindful of plosives and sibilants. A plosive is that gush of wind that comes out of your mouth when you say words with an oral stop, usually a P or T. What sounds like normal speech to you will sound like an explosion of breath on the mic. Sibilants are any hissing sound your mouth makes, like when a word begins with an S. If you are positioned on the mic incorrectly or forcing your voice, the hissing noise will be amplified in the recording and sound very distracting. Try saying the sentence “Pick the pictures you’d prefer to see”, and listen for pops or hisses in your speech. If you can’t eliminate them by enunciating differently, try moving your head slightly away from the mic when you say them.
Record with confidence

When the prep work is done, it’s time to press record! Here are some final things to keep in mind:

  • Before you say your first sentence, take a deep breath, open your mouth slightly, and smile. You’ll be surprised at how much your tone changes (for the better!) if you smile while talking.
  • Breathe! Not only at the beginning, but throughout your recording. If it sounds unnatural, you can edit out audible breaths—but don’t edit your words too closely together and take out all your breaths, or the narration will sound unnatural.
  • Record it all in one take. This does not mean you need to record it all perfectly on your first try, but keep the mic on until you finish one complete take. Maintaining the ambient room noise and mic placement consistent throughout your narration is ideal, and makes it sound much more natural.
  • It’s ok to make mistakes, laugh it out, pause, and continue recording. If you stumble in the middle of a sentence, go back to the beginning of the phrase and record it again. Editing two half-sentences together is possible, but sounds unnatural—especially if you’re not an experienced audio editor.
  • Be mindful of paragraphs and sentences, and leave enough gap between them so that you can cut them later if you want to remove parts of your narration.
  • If you find yourself stumbling often, take a break, re-read your script, and start again.
Putting it all together

Once you’re happy with your recorded narration, it’s time to edit the piece. Import your narration to your editor of choice—preferably one that will allow you to edit the voice and visuals at the same time, like WeVideo. Then, put on your headphones (always edit audio with headphones on!) and listen closely.

  • Locate unwanted umms and any loud breathing noises and remove them, but leave a natural pause, or it will sound weird.
  • Leave additional pauses between paragraphs or ideas. As you add your visuals, you can tweak these.
  • If the audio is too quiet, you can boost it slightly. If you need to boost it so much it begins to sound distorted, record it again and speak more loudly and clearly.
  • If you plan on using music, remember to keep the voiceover “above” the music. Your voice should be the surfer, your music the wave. Background music that is too loud will be extremely distracting to the listener, and your message will be lost.

Additional things to consider

Your voice (even though it’s awesome) won’t be ideal for every project. Sometimes, a video requires a male or female voice, or a certain kind of voice that you can’t mimic. If you want to explore other voiceover options, check out voice talent services like Voicebunny, Voice123, or Fiverr. I hope these tips help you get started with confidence. After a few tries, you’ll quickly see the value of voice over video. We sure did!

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