• Download your free audio program and get your questions answered now!

    • Contact Us

Blog

Keep up to date with the latest tips and trends in the world of voice over

Essential VoiceOver Lessons 3

28 January

The Skills for Creating Great Visuals in VoiceOver

No matter which way you look at;

  • the many styles of script for voiceover,
  • the way copywriters put language together,
  • the different ideas and concepts scripts contain, and
  • the myriad different individuals and audiences you’ll be connecting with,

…one thing is true.

Voiceover is a very visual medium and your disembodied voice is all that you have to create those visuals.

There’s an old Chinese proverb, “The tongue can paint what the eyes can’t see.”  

When I first worked in voiceover in the 1980’s (yes, that is a long time ago) we were thrust into a new world of creativity, when our radio stations went from the old mono AM band to stereo FM.

Suddenly scripts became more creative and it was common to have multiple characters in scripts for radio commercials.

Scripts were often written like little plays, beginning, middle and end, and in those days 60 or even 90 second commercials weren’t unusual.

We were creating voices for characters inhabiting a particular environment and it was our job to make those environments and whoever we were being in them, believable and authentic.

That simply means, that the way we worked with those radio scripts, those ‘little plays’ was that we were creating a visual reality for those who were listing.

These days, dialogue or duologue scripts are not as commonplace. Mostly we work alone. Sad but true!

However, needing (and having) the skills to create great visuals in voiceover reads continues.

To be skilled in this area means the difference between your reputation as a really engaging ‘voice actor’, or just an average one.

So let’s talk through some techniques you can use to make sure you’re getting a visual message into your reads.

In my book there are two different kinds of language

  • Visual language, or
  • The language of comment or opinion

The more you understand about the structure and meaning of language and how it impacts on the listener, the better your work will be. Simple.

To give you an example of those two different types of language I’ve chosen a script that has both.

Just read it through first, and get an idea of what it’s about and how you’d approach the voice/read style requested in the specs.

Metricon

Shoe

1 x 30 second radio spot
Read as if telling this story to a child

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

She had so many kids she didn’t know what to do

You see, she was renting an old sneaker.

It was full of holes. The laces were missing.

And inside…well the last owner had tinea….

Then she heard of Metricon’s First Home Buyers Deal

A brand new twenty square home for less than what she paid in rent.

Now if you want to stop living in a shoebox

Call Metricon today on 99 15 5 777″

Okay, so I would call this script a ‘character driven’ script, because we don’t know what it’s about until the end, when we realize it’s about building a new home.

Once you understand the message and its intention, (and before you decide on a ‘voice’ to use), you need to do these things:

  • Find the product name and note where it appears in the script
  • Sort the ‘visual’ language from the language of ‘comment and opinion’.

Identifying these two different elements in the script, helps you focus on their value in story telling terms and inform how you’re going to ‘play’ with the language to get an engaging, believable result.

When you first read through this script, you might be forgiven for making a choice that you’re going to read it as though it’s a nursery rhyme, but it’s not quite as simple as that.  Don’t forget, it’s an ad and rather than an over-all ‘story’, this ‘ad’ is a series of messages designed to get the listeners attention.

Here’s what to do that will help you get better focus to build your characterization around.

I’m going to underline visual language and italicize comment and/or opinion

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

So I’ve only underlined ‘old woman’ and ‘lived in a shoe’.

That’s because the words ‘there was an’ and ‘who’ have no value in the visual telling of this story. Of course they need to be there for the story to hang together but they are NOT the story.

Here’s the next line

She had so many kids she didn’t know what to do

In this line we have both visual and comment/opinion. ‘so many kids’ strongly visual and ‘she didn’t know what to do’ a comment/opinion.

Here’s something you may find helpful when you’re applying this technique.

  1. When you read through visual language, slow it down a little, to give the listener time to visualize.
  2. When you work through comment or opinion you can go a little faster.

Now that you’ve isolated the language, look at how you’re going to apply colour to the story.

***Apply your voice acting skills to just those words or phrases.

Before we push on, to test out whether this method will help you focus on creating a more interesting read and give you more character options, just work through the first two lines again.

Are you getting the hang of it?

Let’s work through the next part

“You see, she was renting an old sneaker.

It was full of holes. The laces were missing.

And inside…well the last owner had tinea….

Then she heard of Metricon’s First Home Buyers Deal

A brand new twenty square home for less than what she paid in rent.

Now if you want to stop living in a shoebox

Call Metricon today 0n 99 15 5 777″

 Okay, so this is an example of how you can create better visual reads, although not every script will require you to inhabit a story and create visuals as much as this.

Your script could be a simple delivery of information but don’t forget, it will still contain visual language and I know it helps your read, if you give it some focus.

Give it a try  🙂

Happy voiceovering!

 

 

 

 

 

Abbe Holmes About Abbe Holmes
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply