If your project requires a voice over, and you have checked out voice talents' prices, you have probably discovered that voice overs are not cheap. Here are 10 tips for reducing the cost of your project.
At the very least, a voice talent should have a studio-quality microphone (not a cheap computer microphone!) This is mandatory! The quality of the audio is in a large part determined by the quality of the microphone. In the recording world, there is a saying: “Garbage in, garbage out”
Additional equipment might be: an audio interface, professional audio software, and acoustic treatments.
In order to gauge the quality of a talent’s recording equipment, ask them whether their demos were recorded in their home studio. If the answer is yes, then listen to the demos to decide whether the quality suits your needs. If the talent recorded their demos elsewhere, then request a sample file recorded at the home studio to determine the sound quality.
Voice over is a craft. If a voice talent is good at their work, they make it look easy. That does not mean that it is easy. A professional voice talent has excellent enunciation, ability to read difficult words and alliterative phrases without stumbling, knowledge of how to speak into a microphone correctly, and more.
A voice talent straight out of voice over training will have acquired all of the skills in the course of their studies. Likewise, a voice talent without training but with extensive experience will have acquired these skills on the job.
In contrast, a person who simply decided that from now on they will call themselves a voice talent will not have the requisite skills. It is therefore important to hire someone who has either training or experience or both. Hiring someone with no credentials will guarantee that your project will need to be rerecorded by a professional, thus costing you extra money and hassle.
Listen to the demos on the talent's website. Do any of them reflect the voiceover style that you want for your project? If not, then how do you know that the talent will be able to deliver the style you need? A talent may excel at hard-sell commercials yet be unable to deliver copy convincing in a conversational style.
By checking whether the voice talent is able to deliver the style you need, you avoid the potential expense of having to hire another talent to rerecord the project.
A recut is when the voice talent re-records part or all of the text. Usually, if a recut is requested due to a mistake made in the reading or recording, the talent will re-cut the relevant part of the script for free.
However, if you need a re-cut due to a change in script or direction, the talent will usually charge you for the re-cut, either at full price or at a discounted price. The talent usually limits the number of times they are willing provide re-cuts at a discounted price.
If your script is significantly shorter than the script length covered by the talent's minimum fee, (for example if the talent's minimum fee is for 2 – 2.5 minute script, and your script is :30 sec), it is worth asking the talent if they can include a free recut in the price.
As mentioned, if you need a re-cut due to a change in script, the talent will usually charge you for the re-cut.
You can easily avoid this extra expense by finalizing your script before sending it to the talent.
As metioned, if you need a re-cut due to a change in direction, the talent will usually charge you for the re-cut. It is therefore a good idea to make sure you know what style and pace you want, and to convey your direction requests to the talent, before recording commences.
When you write the script, include instructions to the voice talent. Put words that should be emphasized in bold or italics, and if you need longer pauses write that in the script, too. Here are some sample scripts.
To help explain the talent what style of reading you need, listen to the demos on the talent's website and choose one that demonstrates the style you are looking for. Ask the talent to use the same tone of voice as in that demo. This is the best way to get the exact style you want, as it leaves no room for misunderstanding.
Many voice talents have their own home studio, but not all are set up for clients to sit in on recording sessions. If you feel you must be present for a recording, you will usually have to meet the voice talent at a local studio (unless the talent has a phone patch or ISDN). This means that you have to pay for both the voice talent and the studio.
To avoid the additional cost of a third-party studio, provide the talent with sufficient direction that they can record at their home studio without you present. If you are concerned that the talent will not follow direction well, ask them if they are willing to record a custom demo of a small part of the script, so that you can approve the tone and pace before they start recording. Some talents will record a short custom demo for free. Finally, you can weigh the cost of a potential recut versus the third-party studio's cost.
Voice talents charge in a variety of ways, including by hour. When recording at a third-party studio, this - by three-hour session - is the accepted method.
However, when the talent records at their home studio, it is preferable to pay by a unit other than time. This is because voice talents' primary skill is recording: They record scripts skillfully and efficiently. However, recording at their home studio usually means that they must also edit the audio, a task which they may perform skillfully, but perhaps not efficiently.
To ensure that a voice talent's possibly slow editing skills don't bulk up your bill, try to find a talent who chanrges by a unit that is not dependent on the talent's editing speed, for example per page, per word, or per commercial. Such payment schemes also enable you to calculate the project's cost up front.
When editing a voice over, the talent must:
All this is very time-consuming, and some voice talents will be willing to charge you a lower rate if they do not have to perform these tasks.
Ask the talent if they can offer you a lower rate for raw audio and/or audio in a single file. Raw audio means that you would receive the audio with all errors, breaths, noise, etc. You would need to edit it yourself. A single file means that you would have to cut the audio into multiple files (if your project requires this) and name them yourself.
To edit audio, all you need is suitable audio editing software, such as Audacity, which is available as a free download. Cutting an audio file into multiple files is extremely simple. Editing is also simple, but requires some practice. Regardless, it is a good idea to try your hand at editing before you try this cost-reduction tip.
There are a multitude of people on the Internet who advertise themselves as voice talents, but who in fact have:
These people mistakenly think that anyone can do voice over, and all you need is a microphone. They are wrong. Voice over takes skill, ability, and training, as well as decent equipment on which you can produce clean sound.
In order to entice you to hire them despite their lack of qualification for the job, these people will offer very low, non-standard prices. In order to make sure that the buck they earn is a fast buck, they will spend a minimal amount of time recording your project and send you unprofessional, low-quality work.
In other words, you get what you pay for.
In your quest to reduce costs on your voice over project, consider the following: If you hire a hack and end up with a low-quality recording, you may very well have to hire a professional voice talent to record the project from scratch, in which case you will have paid twice.
Article by Victoria Feinerman