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Category: Recording

  1. Working from Home (WFH) as a Voiceover Artist

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    Working from Home has been my way of life for over five years and even before that I was already shifting to work more remotely. As a voice actor with my own studio I have managed to keep myself efficiently busy with a good work/life balance routine. 

    Working from home is a mindset and when I first starting to work remotely my biggest worry was how I would deal without interacting physically with people. As a person who identifies with physicality as a main language this was a real concern. However I overcame the challenge by identifying how I could work with that language barrier and thrive. 

    If you are starting to work from home then here are a few tips that have helped me. 

    1. Primary Concerns - ask yourself what those concerns are and spell them out for you
    2. Work mode - do you prefer to get up early and work until lunch or lunch until dinner or late into the night. Figuring out what your work mode is will help.
    3. Self care time - what type of self care do you prefer? A cup of tea, a crossword break, a walk around the block, chatting to a friend. Have a few things in mind for variety.
    4. Structure - now you have a rough list of what work and self needs you have, plot them so you can go through them and figure out a working and life day that works for you.
    5. Change - remember it doesn’t have to work from day 1 so change as you need to. Maybe your work ends up being with clients in a different time zone so you can structure your day differently than when you started out. Be prepared to be flexible at first and try different things out.

     Working from Home as a Voiceover Artist

    Avoid thinking that if you work all the hours in one day you will be more productive. It rarely if ever works like that. A simple coffee break or magazine break allows you to breathe and gather your thoughts. The brain quite likes to mull over challenges but a distraction usually enables it to reach an answer. 

     

    In my week, I map out work tasks that I want to complete as well as life tasks that need to be included. I also slot in self care activities and I take care to do these because every time I think about skipping them in fact I feel worse and less creative than when I end up doing them. My dance family are really important to me and as a voice actor where you internalise all the physicality of the roles, it means I can release all that vitalness safely and into something also very creative and rewarding on many levels. I enjoy chatting with friends over a coffee even if its online. A read of a chapter of a book or a set time playing a video game also allows for some down time. Always get up, prepare for “going to work” and that mindset helps structure the day. 

    Whatever system you find that works for you when you work from home, go for it. Just remember, when the conference calls happen, remember to wear clothes!

  2. The Power of Voice Narration

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    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.

  3. Saving our Sounds

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    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.

  4. Top 6 UK Audio Dramas to be checked out in 2018

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    UK audio dramas 2018

    In recent years I’ve found myself becoming increasingly more excited by the resurgence of audio dramaI am a voice over artist after all!  Far from old-time radio dramas or those tired story tapes we had as children, this modern, on-the-go entertainment offers well produced, expertly acted, and downright addictive stories from the classic to the contemporary.

    Last year I played the part of Maria Thorpe in Audible Original Drama Northanger Abbey alongside the brilliantly talented Emma Thompson, Lily Cole and Eleanor Tomlinson. It was a wonderfully creative experience putting a new spin on an old classic, and only heightened my excitement for the future of audio dramas.

    Northanger-abbey-image

    Available to download and listen to almost instantly, audio dramas represent all flavours of fiction. What’s great is the infinite possibilities of the forms stories can take in this medium, particularly as the audio drama movement is only just beginning.

    If you are yet to get stuck into these fiction podcasts, here are a few of the top UK audio dramas I recommend you check out this year.

    1.    Black Eyed Girls—Katie Hims

    Winning BBC’s Best Audio Drama Series 2018, Katie Hims’ audio drama Black Eyed Girls is a beautifully touching, emotional story. This poignant drama follows the lives of separated twins who spend over 60 years searching for each other.  One of radios most cherished writers, Katie Hims has created yet another breath-taking script which has been accompanied with wonderful acting.

     2.    The Sky is Wider—Linda Marshall Griffiths

    Winner of the prestigious Best Single Drama award at the 2017 BBC Audio Drama Awards, The Sky is Wider explores the neurology and ethics surrounding the treatment of a patient with minimal consciousness.  Written by Linda Marshall Griffiths, it was developed in consultation with Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, Anil Seth, to create a very current, stimulating and deeply moving radio play.

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     3.    Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures— Andrew Sewell, B7 Media

    If you’re looking for a truly exciting series of sci-fi adventure then you just have to check out the adventures of Dan Dare. Under the expert direction of Andrew Sewell, this audio drama series shapes and transforms the original stories of this heroic action figure by bringing together a sensational script, an all-round electric cast (most notably Ed Stoppard as Dare, Heida Reed as Peabody and Geoff McGivern as Digby) and fabulous music (by Imram Ahmad) to deliver pure audio greatness.

     4.    Neverwhere—Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs

    Ok, so this adaptation may be a few years old now, but if you’re new to audio dramas it is a great story to start you off.  Neverwhere is a six-part dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, which follows the story of protagonist Richard Mayhew on a journey through ‘London Below’, a bizarre, and much more dangerous version of the real London we all know on the surface. Featuring an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and Benedict Cumberbatch, this is not to be missed.

     5.    Midnight’s Children—Salman Rushdie, adapted by Ayeesha Menon

    Heralded as ‘radio drama of the year’, this is a fantastic serialisation of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 best-selling novel Midnight’s Children. The story follows the life of Saleem Sinai who was born on the stroke of midnight the day his subcontinent was partitioned by religion into India and Pakistan. Ayeesha Menon has created a dazzling dramatization of this realist masterpiece with a superb cast.

     6.    Life Lines—Al Smith

    This tense drama goes behind the scenes of an ambulance control centre where we’re introduced to ambulance call handler Carrie. Each time the phone rings it’s a matter of life or death. A truly gripping series, Life Lines conveys the story through a magnificent script and a cast that really captures the enormity of each phone call.