An Overview of the Voiceover Production Process

For those unfamiliar with how voiceover narration is conceived, designed, recorded, and edited, the tasks listed below describe the main issues that you should address when establishing a professional voiceover production capability.

Identify the types of audio segments you will need to record, the level of production quality necessary, and who you will be recording. Consider the question “What do we need to record and what will we do with these audio segments?” For example, will the segments consist of scripted descriptions of topics delivered by the voiceover performer at a studio site, or interviews with subject matter experts or customers recorded in the field? Will you be recording one person at a time, or several persons at once? Is the end use of the segments for broadcaster to an audience that will listen on high quality audio systems, or will it be compressed and delivered over the Internet to users with computer speakers?

The issue of who you will be recording, where the recordings will take place, and how the recordings will be used has a major impact on the required types of equipment and facilities, and your production procedures. Each type of audio segment will have different scripting and production requirements, so it is important to have an accurate understanding of what you are intending to produce, and how it will be used within the program, prior to moving forward.

Evaluate and prepare your recording environment. When you turn on the microphone, in addition to recording the main voice, the microphone will pick up the sounds of persons talking nearby, ambient sounds such as street traffic, reverberation of sounds reflecting from the walls, and other undesirable sounds that will become part of your voice recording.

To ensure the best results when recording, it is important to identify and understand what sounds are present in the recording space, and take steps to reduce or eliminate unwanted sounds and ambiance that can adversely impact the quality of your recordings. This means understanding how to evaluate and select the right room or location for recording, understanding the level of quality that you require to meet end client or audience needs, and configuring your recording spaces in a way that produces the best quality audio with minimal unwanted sounds.

Select and configure the appropriate equipment and software. The equipment required for recording voiceover can range from a self-contained digital audio recorder to an expensive and complicated professional audio setup that includes hardware and software mixers, effects, processing, and an isolation booth, or anywhere in between these two extremes.  The specific approach that you should follow will depend upon an understanding of your production needs, audience expectations, your production process, and your budget.

Create scripts for your voiceover narration. You need a process for documenting the content you intend to record, and communicating this content to the person performing the voiceover, the person editing the files, and the person producing the final media product that will incorporate these voiceover narration files.This documentation can range from loose talking points, to a verbatim script, to a multimedia script that includes programming instructions, or anywhere in between.

Perform and record the voiceover. Performing spoken voiceover can be much more demanding than most people realize. The voiceover artist is acting out a performance that is being recorded. The performer needs to be aware of what type of performance and emphasis necessary, proper pacing, enunciation, and energy level, and any other factors that will define how the audience perceives the resulting narration, along with how to properly interact with the microphone and recording system. The person responsible for ensuring that a technically professional recording of the voiceover performance is obtained must understand how to properly set up and operate recording hardware and software.

Apply processing and effects, and editing the audio files. Audio recording and editing software provides a wide range of tools that allow you to maximize the quality of the audio recording, delete errors, change the sequence of segments, and generate individual audio files in a format appropriate for the next stage in the production process (e.g., inserting into podcasts, video segments, multimedia programs, websites, etc.).

The person editing the audio voiceover files must understand how to operate the software, and the technical requirements necessary for the files to properly integrate with the intended final media product.

Each of these issues is important to the final success of your voiceover recording effort, and will be addressed in detail within this site.

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