Latest news

 RSS Feed

  1. A lot of voiceover success is about the audition. This means recording samples or demos for clients. As clients can make a selection from a demo being pitch perfect is important here. For any actor or voice talent the audition and commitment and professionalism towards it is just as important if not more than the actual job. 

    This has been revealed to me more so this past December on two separate occasions. In December 2018 I was chatting with a producer friend and they sent me an audition as a voice had dropped out from the production. As soon as I got the script I read it all the way through, I couldn’t put it down. The story and narrative had gripped me and I saw in my head how the characters had come to life. I loved the character I was asked to play. However it was totally against my acting type. I love a challenge but voicing a character that was very much the opposite of my voice was a stretch. However, within 24 hours I had sent my audition back. I had even ad-libbed a bit and adding some extra shade and light to the character. I told the producer it was against my type but I loved the character but knew that it was their choice. They loved it. So far so good. 

    Recording Studio 

    They promised to let me know a week later. The week went by and then they sent me an email. They couldn’t let me know because mine was the only audition that they received. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Many of my voice talent colleagues ask about jobs and auditions and how to get them etc. However despite passing on a few auditions the result seems to be the same. Hardly anyone submits the auditions. You can’t be part of the game if you don't even step up to play. 


    So while my slightly confused producer could give me the role, the fun part of the game is that everyone takes part, an open goal is interesting but hardly a challenge. And also do you not want to take part in this after all those conversations and networking? It seems that no, not everyone does. Voice work takes hard work and yes talent is needed but also professionalism and wanting to do the job. If you don't even submit the audition then you can’t even be considered for a juicy acting role. 

     Another story I heard was that a voice was asked to submit an audition to a long form narration. They submitted poor audio quality and asked to submit again. This time another audio issue came to light. The producers were confused as they wanted to work with this voice and had heard their work so were eager to start a project with them. But the audio was unusable so sadly that voice wasn’t taken on. Lesson here is to really pay attention. Please take time to listen to your audio, play it back and see if that works and follows the audio guidelines for each client. 

    In fact, the whole point is to acknowledge and accept that the audition is the job and the job is the sparkly cherry on an amazing cake that is you!


  2. After so many years working in the creative fields there are a few things that always jump out to me, marking out a good voiceover to a great voiceover. Having created copy, voiced a fair few audio projects, directed voices with context and recorded them and engineered their sessions I have seen first hand what makes a great voice talent. With almost two decades of experience, I've heard a thing or two. And all it takes is one word.

    In fact, this simple word, elevates something ok to something sublime. There are many skills to develop as a voiceover. Acting, accounting, marketing are among a looooong list. These and many more will help you develop as a talent, develop you as a person and help with you being you. After all that is what a client wants, you, your voice, your take, your version. 


    But there is something else that takes you from ok to great. What is it? What exactly is that magical word? Intention.

    I record many voices and the ones that really and truly stand out to me are those that understand intention and carry through with authenticity. They are channeling the intention of the words, their meaning, the brand/product or service. But what does that actually mean? It means to take a step back, really read the words and understand the subtleties at play behind them. No copy is ever written just to pad space, especially if it is for advertising. Even three simple words will have been thought about and as if captured from the air and pinned to paper, they will have been chosen on purpose. Many words and combinations of them may have been grasped, proposed and mulled over but despite this, the words on the page in front of you are the winning words.

    And as that is the case, what do you do about that? You read and become cognisant about what they mean. Then make clear your intention for those words. Make that intention clear and authentic. Are the words relaxed for a relaxed read? Then the intent you have is to be relaxed. Are the words witty or playful or wry? Then the intention will reflect that. Of course there are times when you can Volte face and do the opposite but that in itself is an intention. Figure out what the intention is or ask if you have people present and commit to that intention. 

    By committing to that intention, you also commit to an authenticity. Being truthful to the words and giving them the power of authenticity means that the audience hears that. The power it creates for the brand or product you are voicing then takes the ordinary to the extra-ordinary. To become a voice is easy, to excel requires effort, passion and intention. Time to talk with intention. 


    Lorraine Ansell Voiceovers

  3. Natural Voice Over talent

    A great voice over has the power to completely transform a video or audio book. Thanks to their speaking skills and acting talents, voiceovers are able to conjure moods, evoke sadness or happy memories, bring characters to life and capture the audience in an almost spellbinding way.

    There are no limits for voiceovers with unique gifts, and with so many types of VO work to choose from in this industry you won’t fail to find a genre you don’t enjoy. So do you have voice over talent that’s worth celebrating? Keep reading to see if you have what it takes.

    Here I’ve put together a list of qualities every great voice over artist should have to succeed in the industry.

    1. Creativity

    A good narrator or storyteller must be able to capture the audience. To do this, you have to enjoy speaking confidently and letting your creative side run wild. It will be obvious to the audience if the narrator is not enjoying themselves because what they are listening to will come across a little lifeless.

    Great voice overs can hold the audience under a spell, taking them on an emotional journey through the highs and lows of the tale. This is where the VO’s creative side comes out too.  You should be able to capture the essence of every character by adding your own inflections to the way that they speak.  If you are unable to imagine what a character may sound like, then you will struggle to bring that character to life.

    2. Good articulation

    There is a fine art to articulating a script perfectly. If a VO under-articulates their words they can sound tired and the performance may appear quite dull. On the other hand, over-articulation of words can sound unnatural, over-rehearsed and generally not believable.

    Good narration calls for finding a balance between the two and adapting the style to suit the script. After all, a character in an audiobook may not require the same articulation as the voice over for an instructional corporate video.

     Much like an actor who rehearses their lines for a play, a professional VO will spend time reading and re-reading their script to ensure they understand what is required of them and what sounds best to fit the story.

    3. Intuitive pacing

    A good voice actor knows how to pace the dialogue to suit the script. For example, they may use subtle pauses for added realism, or they may speed up the dialogue for intense action scenes.

    In an audio book little pauses and breaths can add a human touch to the character, or perhaps extra intensity to a descriptive scene. Alternatively, in a corporate video for instance, the steady speed and slight pauses give the listener time to take in what they have just heard.

    A natural pacing ability can help the VOA immerse their audience in the story while making the characters sound more realistic. A VO that has this talent will know the best times to use these pauses and will know not to over do it. The listener should never be aware of these subtle stops because it should sound natural and be in keeping with the pace.

    4. Knowing the best time to use an accent

    Firstly, it’s not necessary for VO’s to have 20 different accents in their repertoire, but it can help if you can deliver 2-3 different believable accents when required.  But again, this isn’t essential because everyone has an accent of his or her own.

    Good voice actors know when a character or voice over role is suited to them and have the ability to take their accent out of the narration and deliver a more neutral diction when required.

    5. Consistency

    Some voice over work, such as audio book and film narration, can take several days to complete. One of the pressures voice actors have to work with is fatigue or waning concentration, and how this can take its toll on the actor’s voice.

    Being able to provide consistent voice over throughout an entire book or film is a much-admired quality of a VOA. Try listening to a recording of yourself reading a book out loud from cover to cover to see if you have the stamina to produce a consistent performance.

    Do you have what it takes?

    If you have the above qualities and enjoy bringing characters to life through speech, or you particularly enjoy acting and reading aloud, then voice-over work may be for you.

    As I mentioned earlier, there are many different styles of voice acting and productions to get into.  If you are interested in creating voice over work, but don’t know which area is right for you, then here are a few ways to try and find your own sound.

    1. Practice—Read out loud and then read out loud some more. You can never practice too much. Find your favourite books and perform them as if you were producing an audio book. If there are characters, think about their identity and how they might sound. Have a go at creating accents for them and what the pace of their dialogue might be.  

    2. Listen—If you’re interested in this industry then you may already be aware of the amount of voice-over work we here on a daily basis. If not, pay close attention to adverts and online videos and listen to the voice over to get a better idea of how they sound. Listen to the pacing, the articulation and subtle nuances. Click for some of my examples

    3. Record—If you are keen to get into the industry, it may be worth investing in some quality recording equipment. These days, quality recording equipment is readily available at affordable prices.  Start with the basic equipment and practice recording various productions, whether its explainer videos or audio books, then play them back to see how you sound.

    Remember, have fun and enjoy every part you play.

  4. The Power of Voice Narration

    There are many elements that go into creating outstanding video content: captivating visuals, compelling characters, creative scripts and a strong sense of place, to name just a few. But one essential component that is often overlooked is the narration.

    A voiceover has the power to drastically change and improve any visual content, be that films, commercials, video games or audio books. We as humans have long been enticed by oral storytelling, and not just because its easier to listen, but because the voice brings so much more to the story.  Here’s how voice narration has the ability to enhance your video content.

    Giving your video credibility

    In today’s tech-savvy society we are constantly listening to voice overs, whether that’s on the radio, in films, advertisements, televised sports, or documentary films. As the audience, we have developed a sense of trust when we here narration, and we’ve even come to anticipate it when we’re watching visual content.

    The voice we hear not only creates trust, but it also has the ability to encourage action from the audience.  Think about televised charity appeals for instance. The striking visuals captivate our attention, but it is the voice over, often a famous actor, who humanises what we are witnessing and encourages us to take action. The same can be said for insurance sales campaigns or marketing ads. It is the human voice that sets the message and compels us to sign up or buy a product.  

    Clear, concise and to the point

    Sometimes it can be hard to convey entire details of the subject matter just through the visuals—if filmmakers tried, the video would be too long. But by utilising a voice over, a long message can be portrayed using only a few key visuals.  A narrative voice fills conceptual gaps and allows you to explain details that may be harder to express visually. And when you get the voice over to match the concept perfectly, it can even reinforce an idea you’ve illustrated and give it more power.

    Improving your brand through a voice

    A recognisable voice has the power to catch the audience’s attention.  The tone of voice, its cadences, and that precise timing all lend to give your video a personality. Whether you’re trying to give your brand an upbeat, familiar and friendly element, or a professional and reliable quality, the right voiceover can also make your audience feel spoken to and represented.

    Expanding your audience

    Professional voiceovers can help to localise your content to fit in with your marketing strategies. Whether you use videos for entertaining your audiences or for marketing campaigns, it is a good idea to pass the language barrier and reach larger audiences. This may also apply for audiobooks and podcasts.

    But localising content means going beyond a simple translation of the script.  It must be adapted to keep the correct meaning but so that it also recognises cultural norms.

    The right voiceover who has the correct tone and accent has the ability to conquer audiences. Plus a professional will not only record the content themselves but more often that not they will be able to take care of the editing and translation too. This is where it pays to use professional voice-overs.

    Do’s and Don’ts when hiring a professional voice over

    DON’T forget to listen to voice reels

    An experienced VO should be able to send you example reels. It can be good to see if their previous work matches with your target demographic- that way you know you’re on the right lines and the voice could work well with your brand.

    DON’T disregard the female voice

    It is often said that a female voice can target a wider audience.  A study in the Journal of Advertising looking at the effects of male and female voices in ads, found that although the voice over gender didn’t matter for male-oriented or neutral products, the gender did matter for female oriented products. That means, that a female voice can be effective for male-associated products, but a male voice is rarely suitable for those targeting a female audience.

    DO think about longevity

    When you’re making your selection think about choosing a voice over who can represent your brand in the long run. Chopping and changing the voice over for each new video makes your brand incoherent, so perhaps choose a VO talent that is versatile to suit your future projects. 

    Do test with your target audience

    Once you have made a pre-selection and have the demo reels, it can be a good idea to see how the voice resonates with your audience. If your target market is females aged 25-50 then a voice that fits this description is likely to have the most credibility.

  5. Spanish-marketing-trick-1

    Did you know there are over 400 million native Spanish speakers, making it only second to Mandarin in terms of the most spoken languages in the world. English soon follows with roughly 360 million native speakers. So with such a large audience, it’s no wonder there are many advantages of marketing your global business campaigns in Spanish.

    Here’s why your business could benefit from a multilingual marketing strategy and how an experienced Spanish voice over can help.

    Exactly what is the Spanish language?

    The Spanish language that is globally recognised today is derived from a dialect of spoken Latin that evolved in the north-central part of the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th century. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Castilian Spanish originated as a continuation of spoken Latin in a number of areas of northern and central Spain. Eventually, the Castilian continuation Latin (from Spain’s Castile region) mixed with the Arabic dialect formed what became the standardized Spanish language.

    In the 16th century, the language expanded south to the Mediterranean sea and, through Spanish colonisation, it was brought to the Americas. Today, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, and is one of the official languages of the United Nations.

    How does it affect UK businesses operating globally?

    When not including English-speaking countries, Spanish comes in as the UK’s 5th top export market.  In a study conducted by the British council, the importance of languages based on a number of factors, including number of speakers, number of internet users, British exports to those regions and GDP of the countries that speak them, were ranked to determine the languages to prioritise in marketing campaigns. The Spanish language came out on top with a score of 76, followed by Arabic and French with scores of 54 and 47 respectively.

    Why global businesses could benefit from advertising in multiple languages

    1.    Offering online content in your audience’s chosen language will yield far greater business results.

    Search engines such as Google make sure their search interface is available in a multitude of languages because they have a global range of users. Knowing the importance of language when it comes to search relevance means that these companies have given their users the option of restricting search results to content that is presented in their own language.

    In other terms, if you are not creating content in languages that your audience may be searching in, then you will not be included in the search results. This goes for video productions also.

    By incorporating other languages into your marketing strategies, you’ll be included in the global interconnected web of social conversations already going on in those international markets, which is undoubtedly beneficial for social media campaigns.

    2.    Customers respond more favourably to content in their chosen language

    It has been widely researched that multilingual internet users, when given the choice of languages, would always choose the website in their own language.

    In a global survey of over 2,000 consumers, it was found that 72% spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language, and 56% would openly pay more if the company they are purchasing from have provided information in their own language.

    After all, the late Nelson Mandela once summed it up perfectly by saying “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

     3.    Reduce the risk of your message being misunderstood

    An international marketing strategy that is presented in English may confuse, or worse mislead, an audience whose native tongue is not English.

    Spanish and English languages share a lot of words with Latin roots, which can make it relatively easy for non-Spanish speaking people to take a guess at the translation of a number of Spanish sentences. But sometimes similar sounding words in each language can often mean something completely different, often known as “false friends”. For instance, the English word ‘embarrass’ sounds a lot like the Spanish word for ‘pregnant’—‘embarazada”.

    The art of translation

    What these three points show is that international businesses can greatly benefit from advertising in the native languages of their audience, rather than a one-fits-all English campaign. But to get this right, it should go far beyond a simple translation of general market English ads.

    Translation involves far more than exchanging words from one language to another.  Translation is a complex skill, so no computer tech can compensate for cultural nuance. This is where an experienced Spanish voice over can enhance your marketing and help you create compelling, Spanish-language original campaigns.

    Spanish Voice Over

    As a bilingual voice over artist, I can speak fluently in both English and Spanish. As a native Latin American Spanish speaker [] I am capable of projecting authenticity into any script (gracias to my Chilean Latina heritage).  I can ensure grammar and syntax is translated seamlessly, so you can be assured your script is culturally relevant.

    I am lucky enough to have worked abroad, which has allowed me to fulfil my travelling dreams and live in such magical places as Barcelona, Paris and London. Now based in the UK, I am available to be the voice behind your business projects, making your product, brand or service come to life.


  6. Find your Perfect Voice Over Artist

    What does the perfect voice mean to your business? Having spent over 15 years working in the creative industry I have a good ear for matching a voice to a brand.  I am a British female voice over artist with much experience in bringing stories to life through an entire range of productions including corporate videos, video games, commercials & audio dramas

    Only a professional voice over can deliver a script that encapsulates the audience, provides clarity without dryness and conveys emotion without the melodrama. But with so many wonderful and characterful VOs out there, how do you find your perfect voice over, no matter the project?  Here are a few of my top tips to follow when you need to find that perfect voice over.

    Think about accent and dialect

    Would the Churchill insurance TV ad work to the same effect if the iconic bulldog mascot didn’t have that beautiful British accent? Probably not. It works because it’s in keeping with the brand, it fits the character and it is a voice that is familiar and relatable. 

    When you first start looking for a voice over, think about what accent might appeal most to your audience. Despite a few exceptions, typically the best accent to choose is the one your audience can relate to. However, if your company is international but has a strong link to its origin, say an Australian beer or perhaps an Italian pasta sauce company, then it would be wise to match the voice to the brand.

    It may be the case that regional dialects come in to play too. For more on British accents, take a look at my recent post ‘Why is the British accent so adored?’

    Striking an emotional chord

    Whether you’re creating an advertisement, an instructional video, or an audio drama, your voice over must hit the right emotional note with your target audience. These emotional ties help to instil a positive impression and create a sense of trust. For example, if you are creating a training video for medical equipment or software then you’ll want to project an image of confidence, efficiency and compassion.  It is the voice actor’s performance that brings authenticity to your brand.

    Appealing to the right demographic

    Try to keep your chosen voice in line with the target demographic. Consider whether male or female voice over would be most appropriate. For example, if your target market is females aged 25-50 then a voice that fits this description is likely to have the most credibility.

    Ensure consistency and professionalism

    Looking back to the Churchill ad, if you were to hear the voice over for the Churchill bulldog (“ohh yes”), you would instantly picture the character, and thus the brand.  It is this consistent performance that makes it recognisable and instantly improves our perception of the product/service. All businesses strive to create this kind of brand recognition, so think about choosing a voice over who can represent your brand in the long run and provide that consistency.

    Look for high quality demos

    Finally, once you’ve understood what your brand’s perfect voice should sound like, you can then search for the voice over actor. All professional VOAs will have high quality demos that show off the whole range of their vocal talent. Listen to the demos carefully; imagine how it would fit to your brand.  Narrow down your search and then get in touch with a handful of artists for more details. The right talent will begin to work with you by understanding exactly what it is you require from them.  After all, a great VOA will strive to understand the needs of every project before delivering the script.

  7. Hollywood female voice overs

    When it comes to voice acting, females haven't always dominated the conversation.  But now diversity and equal representation of women in voice acting is rapidly improving, and now more than ever before more TV shows, audio books, video games and Hollywood movies now have a female voice over in a leading role.

    Even Disney has added another diverse face to its collection of animated princesses. Elena of Avalor is Disney’s first Latina princess living in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by Latin cultures and folklore. A Spanish voice-over cast and a diverse production crew have brought this representation of Latin and Hispanic traditions to life in what is a predominantly American franchise.

    So how do British leading ladies fair when it comes to Hollywood movies, particularly animated ones? Here is a brief look at some of Britain’s most loved female actors performing unfamiliar voice overs in global blockbusters.

    Helena Bonham Carter

    Versatile actor Helena Bonham Carter is well known for her film roles in the Harry Potter series, The King’s Speech and Alice in Wonderland, but very few are aware of her voice over work. A one woman acting machine, Helena B-C’s animation voice work includes Emily in Time Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), Lady Campanula Tottington in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit (2005) and Mother Squirrel in The Gruffalo (2009).

    Julia Sawalha

    You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Mel Gibson’s role of Rocky the Rooster would be the leading role in Chicken Run (2000), but it’s actually Julia Sawalha who voices the feisty, determined protagonist, Ginger. Using the right mix of charm, toughness and despair, Julia Sawalha knocks it out the park in this voice over role, bringing character to the world’s most-loved animated chicken.

    Helen Mirren

    In an interview Dame Helen Mirren once said that she considers herself “hopeless” at voiceovers. But with a whole host of voice performances on her resume, including portraying Deep Thought in Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Nyra in Legends of the Guardians (2010) and Dean Hardscrabble in Monsters University (2013), I for one think she is far from it. I can’t wait to see what voice over work comes her way next.

    Judi Dench

    Seven-time Oscar nominee Dame Judi Dench is perhaps best internationally known for her role as M in the James Bond franchise, but among her film acting and theatre performances, Dame Judi has also voiced a number of animated characters including Miss Lilly in Angelina Ballerina (2002) and Mrs Calloway in Walt Disney’s Home on the Range (2004).

    Emma Thompson

    As one of Britain’s most acclaimed actors, the wonderful Emma Thompson has many iconic disguises under her belt. From playing leading roles in all-time classic films, to starring in audio books and period dramas, Emma Thompson has done it all. But some of her best work comes in the form of animation voice-overs, including Captain Amelia in Treasure Planet (2002), Queen Elinor in Brave (2012) and the lovely Mrs Potts in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast (2017).

  8. The Change in Video Game Leads

    This year’s E3 2018 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), which gave great insight into what we can expect from upcoming video game instalments. But what caught my eye in particular, as it did with many others, is the proliferation of women in these video games.

    Now I know female characters have always been present, but E3 showcased a handful of games which are due to feature multiple leading ladies, many of which as the main protagonist—and rightly so!  Having just come back from Develop in Brighton from a great day at the Audio Stream it got me thinking about audio in this medium.  So I thought I’d take a look at the change in video game leads and see how women are increasingly coming to the forefront in this ever-expanding industry.

    Women in video game history

    It is fair to say that female characters have been an influential part of the gaming sphere almost since gaming began. In 1987 Nintendo released Metroid with female character Samus Aran and of course Princess Peach was one of four playable characters in Super Mario Bros. 2. 

    But there is a certain stigma in the gaming world in which women are typically cast as victims, often having their male counterpart rescue them in some way or other. Think princess Peach as the damsel in distress awaiting rescue from Mario time and time again. And if they’re not the victim, then it’s likely they’re a rather sexualised heroine, much like Lara Croft.

    The good news is, when you think about the iconic characters of gaming, Lara Croft is definitely in the top tier. But unfortunately, that’s it. Only one iconic female character in the last 20 years!

    But, it’s now apparent that the tides are turning. The most-anticipated games of this year announced at E3 suggest that many previously male-dominated game series are making way for ones that feature female protagonists. We all know that women play video games, so it’s only right that they star in them too.

    The voices behind the characters

    The current shift towards equal gender representation in video games has enabled female video game artists to showcase their talents.  Last year Cissy Jones made waves in the industry having scooped the BAFTA Games award for Best Performer. Cissy has a whole range of video game credits under her belt having starred as Joyce Price in Life Is Strange, as well as voicing the lead in Firewatch, and other multiple characters in Walking Dead: Season 1 and Season 2.

    2013’s The Last Of Us, focused on playable character Joel who attempted to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, with teenager Ellie (voiced by immensely talented Ashley Johnson) in tow. But now in The Last of Us: Part 2, Ellie is a young woman and is the main playable character. 

    Similarly, in stealth game Dishonored 2, Emily Kaldwin (voiced by Erica Luttrell) stars alongside her bodyguard Corvo Attano as a main character as she tries to keep her throne after the assassination of her mother.

    Additionally, the makers of The Lost Legacy, which is the sequel to the popular Unchartered series, not only side-lined male protagonist Nathan Drake but also chose to include two women as the lead roles.  The determined duo of Chloe (Claudia Black) and Nadine (Laura Bailey) not only had a significant prominence in the game, but combined with Drake’s absence, it marks an important step in the right direction for both female video game artists and women everywhere.

  9. the-british-library

    Have you ever wondered what happens to old audio formats? As technology moves forward and changes how we experience our lives spare a thought to technology of yesteryear. I have been lucky to visit the Sound Archives at the British Library and had the pleasure of listening to old radio broadcasts. It was as if I were there living in the memories of another time and place. There are old radio catalogues and equipment dotted around the place as well as the odd royal speech. Set up in 1955 the archive today boasts about 60 thousand hours of audio.

    Delving into the audio past is such a privilege especially as the sound archives are working hard to keep all audio alive for future generations. In a labyrinthine palace, racks filled with white jackets, inside them the hidden treasures from Radio 1. Over there, turning to another shelf, every news script from the BBC. We pulled out an archive and were read an extract of the news a month before the declaration of World War 2. Chilling yet compelling reading of the transcripts of seemingly innocuous everyday news bulletins.

    As we wondered around the shelves, racks and racks of tapes, we were overwhelmed by the size of the collection. Most are on ¼ inch tape as well as BETA Max. The BBC transcripts were originally on hard copy and then began to be put onto microfilm. We padded through the bright white corridors mostly in silence until we couldn’t contain our excitement and effervescently babbled away. Where, what, who, when and how – we wanted to know, everything. We trailed underneath an automated book system that looked like it had come from Heathrow’s terminal 5. Instead of suitcases, books and journals, clattered around our heads rising from the depths to the reading rooms. We delved further into the archives beneath. What would we find and how have they ended up here?

    The early BBC Radio content is contained on acetates and also pressed shellac discs. Down in the sound strong rooms are a lot of audio down there is stored on VHS. By a lot I mean corridors, rooms, floor to ceiling shelves, crates, boxes and enough box sets to keep you busy until….well a rather long time! The VHS tapes all standing to attention patiently waiting to be taken out and played. Anyone else have to scramble to change over the tape while recording?! Thought so! A whole project is underway to get this all digitised, a daunting task but one much needed. Especially since old technology is rapidly giving way to the new. However we walked past many an old technology tape deck. The corridors are littered with machines, patiently awaiting their turn, like a long lost friend, to be turned on again, to hum away happily.

    As we walked down on aisle we found all the entries and audio as well as the entry forms for the Sony Awards from season 2 onwards. And close by The famed AWE Perkins collection. A Vicar whose hobby was to record on a fenograph any and all random audio that he took a fancy to from about 1950/51.

    While tape seemed to have weathered many a storm, many rather well, the acetates are crumbling and cracking steadily. The lacquer is shrinking, pulling the tape away from itself, a confetti of brown in tins. What broadcast beauties would be lost? We may never know!

    What has survived rather well and also stored away neatly are the original metal discs. Heavy plates of solid stuff surviving through decades. A couple of those would need a trolley to wheel them out with! One is held up, almost like an Olympian with a winning discus. It is, the first every original broadcast copy. An amazing sight, the Kings Speech, solid and sturdy. A blast from the past.

    The team that work on maintaining this audio history are working on Save Our Sounds. The aim is to catalogue and digitise culturally interesting audio material. A gargantuan task and if you have any old audio please get in touch with the Sound Archive team at the British Library. They would welcome your audio.

  10. British-accent

    Many people from all corners of the world love the British accent. Some of our favourite actors, singers and sporting heroes have iconic British voices—such as Steven Fry, Sir Sean Connery, Cheryl Cole, or Sir Tom Jones (you can’t deny you didn’t imagine them speaking as you read each of their names!). With so many talented Brits out in the media it’s no wonder the accent is such a hit. But why are they all considered to have a typical ‘British accent’ if they all sound so different?

    With plenty of tongues, twangs and brogues on offer around the isles, here I look at what makes a British accent and why it works so well for voiceovers.

    Just what is a British accent?

    An accent is a certain adaptation or flavouring to your speech that has an effect on the sounds and shapes of your words. These adjustments can either attach to certain vowels or consonants to change how they’re pronounced, or can even include a change in word stress where a relative emphasis is placed on a certain syllable.

    But in reality, there is no such thing as a ‘British accent’ because each part of the UK and Ireland has its own regional accent, which can also vary from person to person. For example, a Birmingham accent is different to say a Yorkshire accent, but then the three historic ridings of Yorkshire all have variations, too. The same goes for London where there is such accents as Cockney, Estuary English and Multicultural London English among many more.

    The evolution of “The Queen’s English”

    Interestingly, when you picture your American friends mimicking the Brits they’ll more often than not turn to the traditional English accent. This is referred to as ‘Received Pronunciation (RP)’ (think The Queen or John Cleese) and was adopted by the BBC to sound professional and authoritative during their first broadcasts from the 1930s.

    This cut-glass accent—the soundtrack to period dramas like Downton Abbey— is also associated with the elites of the late 19th century.  But over the years, as the class system has become more fluid, so too has the linguistic divide. Now, RP is mistakenly labelled as the ‘posh’ accent, when in reality there are various forms. RP associated with the aristocracy is referred to as conservative RP, whereas mainstream RP describes an accent that is more neutral in terms of signals regarding age, occupation or lifestyle.

    Some of the characteristics of more regional southern accents have merged with the sharp tones of the conservative RP to make a more modern form that verges on ‘estuary English’—a mix of Cockney and RP—and what is seen globally as the contemporary RP.

    But what all these forms of RP have in common is that they do not use any pronunciation patterns that allow us to make assumptions about where they are from in the UK. This is one of the main reasons why mainstream RP is particularly adopted for voiceover work, because it can appeal to all demographics.  

    Why it makes for a great voiceover

    To a global audience, the “British accent”— or most often a mainstream, neutral RP— can sound sophisticated and intellectual and may help to instil an authoritative tone to a corporate or training video. According to numerous studies, the British accent conjures stereotypes of high IQs and competence, and can even enhance the sense of drama or transform seemingly mundane concepts.

    Right or wrong, we use the information that accents provide to make judgements, whether that’s assumptions on socioeconomic status, intelligence, or perhaps even personality. Much to this affect, accents can also influence our decision-making, which is why with all its many charming characteristics and qualities, a British accent is often used as a persuasive tool for branding and marketing communications.

    Whenever I start a new project I make sure I work closely with my clients to fully understand the brand, script, tone of the message and, most importantly, the audience. Because although a British accent is wonderfully versatile, it’s important to choose a voiceover whose accent suits the brand or video, so that it strikes a chord and resonates with your target market.