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PostHeaderIcon Voice Over


by John Sirett


Visual communication takes priority because it is many times faster and more effective than          verbal  communication.


THEREFORE, the time available to place a Voice Over commentary on a visual scene will usually be   quite limited, particularly if the visual editing is nice and tight, so be selective how you use it.

RULE No 1.  Composing a script

(a) Limit the number of comments (subjects) on your voice-over list to the essential minimum.

Don't overload the commentary with facts, figures, specifications, or chatter that is not  directly required to tell the story.


(b) Condense the speech. (Speaking time)

Minimise the number of words used to make a statement.  This represents 'timesaving' and can   make a remarkable difference when fitting a comment on to the editing timeline. Think  "LESS IS BETTER"

RULE No 2.  When to talk. Narration should be used only to complement the vision. Avoid describing what is already visible on the screen – instead, comment upon something  additional that is not visible. "AVOID REDUNDANCY"

EXCEPTIONS  to Rule No. 2

(a) Where it is necessary to focus the viewer's attention on to a certain item shown on the screen ,(but be quick !)

(b) Where it is necessary to impart an amount of important information verbally. In this case, run the commentary over a scene of "uninteresting" vision.  In this way, the viewer's  attention will switch from the 'unimportant' vision to listen to the more interesting information given verbally.

N.B. This is an important device to use to control the viewer's attention.    Remember, the reverse also applies – if the vision requires the viewer's attention, don't add commentary at this time !

RULE No 3  Writing the script

(a) Write in the vernacular, i.e., write "spoken English" – not formal "written English".

This is most important to create the sense that the narrator is really part of the picture, that he / she  is really 'right there', not just an impersonal, detached third party reading from a book.

N.B. Do NOT simply take tracts of text from a book to be read as your script.  By all means use the            information from the book, but re-write it into the form of a 'spoken script' first.

(b) Use simple words and few words

Quote:  "The true art of writing is simplicity"

(c) Make the words flow easily. Beware of traps in pronunciation.  Read your script out aloud to         identify  any such problems and make changes where necessary



TYPING  TIPS : A voice-over script must be easy to read and a typewritten script will assist anyone        to avoid those little stumbles that spoil a delivery.

Make it easy for yourself (or your reader)

USE  PHONETIC  SPELLING  where pronunciation can be difficult

USE A  LARGE  FONT,  at least 14pts

DOUBLE-SPACE  WORDS  AND  DOUBLE-SPACE  LINES for easy reading and for notations

USE  ONLY  HALF  THE  WIDTH  OF  AN  A4  PAGE   This will create a "column" of  text.

NO  CARRY-OVERS  OF  HYPHENS  OR  PAGES.  No page flipping when reading

(Professionals usually number paragraphs / sentences for reference)

RECORDING – Having  your say.

(a) Record your commentary or narration in small manageable pieces. ( This also gives you an advantage  in positioning each file on the timeline when editing.)

(b) Rehearse each piece until you get it right.  (This is what the professionals do).  Experiment with   different inflections and emphases to suit your taste.  Make any last-minute changes to the flow of    words that don't come off the tongue easily.  (There are always a few)

(c) Get a good position in front of your microphone. Checkout that your P's are not 'popping' and your S's are not sounding like F's, and the recording volume is set correctly.

(d) Before speaking, spend a minute or two talking out aloud, flexing your facial muscles and loosening your tongue. This is equivalent to an athlete warming up before an event.  The words you read will flow better for it.

(e) 'Act  up' a little !  Let your voice reflect the mood of the subject matter.If the narration is about something funny  let your voice sound amused – be amused.If it's about something annoying – be annoyed,  for better effect.Let yourself be .involved in the subject, not just a detached, indifferent voice added later.



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