So your video needs a VO (voice over)? A smooth-talking narrator to carefully guide your viewer through the story of your video? And, you want it to be perfect, right? It can be done, but before anyone even starts recording you’ll need to follow three major steps: planning, scripting, and casting.
Like so many things, if you skip the planning step when preparing for your VO, you run the risk of failure. You’re more likely to produce a VO that fails to connect, or communicate your message properly to your viewer. The first question in the planning stage is hopefully an easy one to answer, but is easy to overlook since often the VO is not the first element one thinks about when producing a video. Who is in charge of the VO component of the production? It is best to select one person to do the rest of the planning, scripting, and casting, otherwise chaos will ensue. Choose a member of your team, or an outside partner to take on the task of ensuring the VO stays on track.
Here are some hard hitting questions to think about when planning out your VO:
- Why use a VO? (I don’t like speaking on camera)
- How will it help your message? (instill confidence and professionalism)
- What type of feel do you want? (happy, sad, exciting, informative, instructional)
- What type of lingo with be used? (professional, casual, accent)
- What is the VO budget? (No Name Nancy $100 – “Holy crap how did you get him?” $10,000)
- What is the timeline for the VO? (deadlines for script approvals, recording, and revisions)
- When will my voice become that awesome? (I am still waiting)
The big question here is, who will write your script? There are two options, the “I know how to write, so I will do it myself” route, or the “I don’t have time or for this, so let the pros do it” way. Unless writing is high on your list of favorite things to do, we recommend that you work with a pro. Professional writers can to produce a higher quality script faster than must of us can do the Sunday Sudoku. Of course, if you have a professional writer on staff to do this kind of stuff already, kudos.
One more quick point about hiring a pro to write the script: I am not telling you that it is impossible for you to write your own, but our experience shows that professionals also know the questions to ask that others overlook. For example, they know that nine times out of ten your legal department or other stakeholder has a black list of words and phrases that can never be used in a script. If concerns like these aren’t uncovered by a seasoned pro until after the offending hues wind up in the final video, you might be looking at a redo of the voiceover or the destruction of all evidence. Most professional writers have a Jedi method of acquiring information like this ahead of time. It’s what they do.
That brings us to the final stage before recording:
Now you can finally determine who you want to be the voice of your message. One of the most common and important considerations at this stage is budget, but what factors play a role in determining that budget? Here are a few important thoughts about talent casting (in no particular order).
- A basic VO can cost from $10 – $100 for a male or eemale. You can still get great quality but they will lack some experience and that celebrity feel.
- If you are looking to mimic the smooth vocals of Mr. Jones (I call him James for short) you can expect to pay well over $500.
- Keep in mind that the length of your script plays a role (you don’t expect the charge the same amount for a two minute recording and an hour long recording right?).
- Discuss delivery time and responsiveness to revision requests with any potential talent options as well.
- Ultimately, it all boils down to the sound you are looking for, which hopefully you figured out way back in step #1
Congratulations! You are almost ready to record the perfect voice over. Take all this information that you and your team have carefully processed and pass it along to whoever’s in charge whether it be a production company or someone on your own team. Then it’s time to sit back and wait in eager anticipation for the final production. As long as you take the time to complete each step of the VO planning process, you’ll never waste time and money on a seventeenth rerecord of a voice over.