A Beginner’s Guide to Voice Over
Playing with new ways of adding information to video content is a great way to keep your videos fresh. Here’s our complete guide to voice over!
If you’re a content creator who shares their videos on YouTube, you’ll probably be aware that utilising every avenue for sharing information with your audience is a smart move. Many creators aim to earn money through YouTube and grow their following. If this sounds like you, then experimenting with different things, like closed captions or voice over, will benefit you greatly.
What Is Voice Over?
Voice over is common in film, TV, and online video content. It refers to the addition of recorded speech to a visual sequence, without any visuals included of the actual speaker.
Since this is separately recorded audio, there is a higher emphasis on the audio quality than perhaps there would be in a shoot and chat vlog, for example. Fortunately, there are plenty of awesome microphones for recording your voice out there. Just like narration, classic examples include nature documentaries of the David Attenborough variety, or film trailers.
Whilst this approach to trailers may feel a little outdated and cheesy, it serves as solid inspiration for any voice over you may be looking to add to your content.
Voice over is also perfect for getting across any narrative information that cannot be easily portrayed visually.
In a YouTube video content setting, adding recorded speech can really help connect you more closely to your audience. It can allow you to elaborate on points that maybe wouldn’t come across as clearly in the visual content. Also, it’s fantastic for providing extra help in tutorial videos.
How to Record Great Voice Over
From technology to technique, there’s plenty to think about before you can nail professional sounding voice recordings. First up, let’s look at the equipment you’ll need for recording.
Different mics are designed for different settings and situations. Some are built to withstand a battering or handle screaming electric guitar amps, others are much more delicate and geared towards the human voice.
Considering the polar pattern of a microphone is important when recording your voice. Opting for a cardioid mic enables you to eliminate some ambient noise, resulting in a crisper recording. Generally, condenser mics are more popular for voice work, as they pick up on the finer details compared to dynamic mics. This does mean, however, that they pick up unwanted noise much more easily. Thinking about the environment you plan to record in can help with your decision here.
Ideally, for recording voice, you want somewhere quiet where you’re unlikely to be disturbed. Of course, you can edit out any unwanted or unneeded audio, but having to constantly cut out background clattering or door slams will get tedious.
The surfaces and shape of the room you record in also has an impact on the quality of the audio. Not everyone is lucky enough to have easy access to a fully set up studio. However, there are things you can do to treat the room, so it’s nicely prepared for voice over recording.
Proper, industry standard soundproofing material can be expensive. Hanging blankets or towels over closed windows and doors can act as an alternative. This is best done in places where outside noise is already minimal, as it won’t block out things like noisy neighbours or heavy traffic. Hard, reflective surfaces cause sounds to bounce around the room, which can result in odd sounding audio. Getting rid of any such objects and replacing them with soft, absorbent materials will help to prevent this and deaden the space.
Writing a Script
Improvisation and riffing certainly has its place, but if that isn’t your forte then having a full script prepared is a must. It’s important to find the balance between natural and preplanned, though.
Writing and preparing a script before you record will ensure you include all the important points you need to make, and at the right points of the video. It will also help you to avoid the dreaded umming and ahing, which never fails to make a speech appear unprofessional and unrehearsed.
Don’t forget to watch the video you will be speaking over as you write your script. This will help you to figure out what information is not being explicitly conveyed via the visuals, and what you ought to be saying in your voice-over.
Delivery & Performance
If you intend to perform your own voice-over, you will want to think about just how you deliver it. It’s not quite acting, but it isn’t a million miles away.
You’ll need to read through your script enough times that you feel very familiar and comfortable with it. If there are any words you find yourself stumbling on repeatedly, you may consider swapping it for something that’s less of a mouthful. Voice overs must be clear and easy to understand, so paying attention to diction and volume is key.
Your volume should remain consistent throughout – unless for dramatic effect. In a similar vein, your pacing should be steady and consistent, again unless for effect. Rushing through your script will make it difficult for your audience to keep up. Whilst going through it too slowly can cause people to switch off and lose interest.
If your script is fairly lengthy, you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable. Finding a nice position to record in will help you sound more natural and comfortable in your delivery.
Editing & Post-Production
You can fix all manner of sins in post-production, both in video and audio. However, when it comes to audio your original recording is much more important than perhaps in video. If you shoot a video you can correct the lighting to an extent, you can fix colour issues, and even get rid of elements completely. It all depends on how advanced your editing skills are.
With editing audio, the original recording needs to be free of background noise, and ideally recorded on a quality microphone. Nobody wants to listen to a voice over that sounds muddy, and is filled with pops and crackles.
So, if you’re happy with your speech recording, you can take it to the next level. Adding things like EQ, compression and a de-esser can really polish your recording. It does require a little bit of know-how though, so check out this helpful video.