Today, VO sessions often require the voice over artist to record on their own with no live direction. Gotta love flying solo! Actually I love flying solo but…that said, this is a completely different beast then an in person session or a remote session done over ISDN or IP where the client is recording you live, playing back, and mixing on the fly. During the live remote session the onus is on the client to make sure they get “coverage”. But when you have to record on your own it’s on you the voice talent to make sure you give the client what they need.
If you really want your clients to love you…Give’m options baby! Yep! Clients love options! I always try to make sure I get more then enough coverage when recording on my own. Let’s say for example you’re recording a 60 second corporate narration. You booked the job off your audition. The client gave some extra directions when they hired you. And then…it’s off to your bat cave to record the session in secrecy! Well...maybe not but hey it's gotta sound cool right? Ok so…always remember that time is money. If at all possible, it’s best for both you and the client to get things right without having to do a pick up session because you took the script in the wrong direction. You could potentially make extra money doing a pick up, but your client is much more likely to hire you again in the future if they know you can usually get things right the first time around.
So how many takes should you do? There is no magic number but in general I shoot to make sure the client has at least 2 similar takes that are done in the style of the original direction. I then start to give the client some options that go anywhere from a slightly different direction, to something that’s completely different. You might think that giving them something completely different is a waste of time, but I like to think of it as an opportunity to “play with the copy”. Hopefully you already got what the client needed in the first two takes. Now it’s time to show them a “different look”. At a minimum, it’s likely that your client will at least appreciate the different styles. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten emails from my client saying, “Great reads Jeffrey! Looks like we’re going with take 4”. Take 4? Seriously? That was the weirdest take of them all! Yep…it happens!
Now of course if you’re recording anything over two minutes worth of copy, you’re not gonna be able to give your client as many choices. And if it’s really long, in that case you may only give one take which is understandable. And as a side note, if it’s a really long script, be sure to have a chat with the client to make you’re definitely going in the right direction as far as your read style. Nothing worse then recording a five minute explainer video only to have the client say you need to redo the whole thing!
For sure, sometimes recording the session on your own can feel a bit daunting. After years of doing countless live directed sessions it took some time to get used to doing everything…and make no mistake when you record on your own you’re the talent, the audio engineer, the director, and the client. At least you try to be. But remember you were hired for a reason. You’ve already proven yourself. Now it’s time to give them what they hired you for…and then add that little extra something. Good clients will appreciate your hard work. And hopefully they’ll come back to you in the future because they know you’ll deliver! So step up to the mic and keep things rolling…and rolling…and rolling!