Voice-over or Subtitles: Which Should I Use?

By Kathy Quinn on September 11th, 2015
With todays increasing needs for Video Marketing, it is essential to understand the process of foreign language voice-over recording, from script to translation and locating voice talent to the actual recording and file delivery. But if you have a multimedia project that includes audio, there is another option besides voice-over recording—subtitling. Subtitling adding foreign language captions at the bottom of the screen to mirror or paraphrase what is being said in the video.
Almost always, voice-over recording will be significantly more expensive than subtitling. But, because voice-over is more expensive is it automatically better? Do you get what you pay for? The short answer is “Not always.” Depending upon a variety of factors, voice-overs, subtitling, or a mixture of both, may give you the results you need.

Related Article:Male-vs-Female-voices

Purpose and content of video
Marketing and promotional videos
For a marketing or promotional video, a voice-over is usually preferable because it is more personal. Just as you choose a persuasive voice to your original video, you can choose voices that will resonate well with the foreign-language target audience.However, there are exceptions. For instance, if your video contains individuals speaking, and you want to retain the full effect of their vocal inflections and emotions, you may want to use subtitles for those parts.
Training or explanatory videos
In the case of e-learning modules or how-to videos, the personal voice may not be as important since it is the subject content of the video that is the focus. This can be an argument for subtitles, but again there are definite exceptions.Where a training video simply demonstrates something on screen while the audio describes it, subtitles can work well. But what if there is a lot of text on the screen. Expecting the viewers to read the subtitles as well as all the other text on the screen may at the least be annoying. Here voice-overs could be the better choice.

Related Article:The Perfect e-learning Voice-Over
Audience preferences
You should also take into account the cultural preferences of your audience. In some countries there are strong preferences for either voice-overs or subtitles. For training and e-learning videos, the different types of learning methods prevalent in the target country should be considered. Find a cultural consultant to guide you.
Budget
While ideally you would pick voice-overs or subtitles based solely on what’s best, we know that costs are still going to be a consideration. After all, there may also be costs involved in localizing your video that don’t relate to the audio. There may be on-screen text or graphics with embedded text that you will also want to have translated. The fact that you cannot afford the gold standard of video localization does not mean that you and your localization partner cannot come up with a plan that will meet your needs.The best way to minimize your costs and, therefore, have the greatest latitude for choice is make sure that you can provide your localization partner with these important components:
A timed script for the video
The source file for the video (NOT .mov, .wmv, or .mp4)
Associated source files
Music and sound effects
On-screen text
Images
Animations
The lack of some of these files may not make your project impossible, but is likely to lead to additional costs for re-creation. Make sure your video production company delivers all of these files along with the final version for showing.
You can search for local Voice Over Talents here

Localize Videos for Greater Impact!

By Kathy Quinn on April 30th, 2015
We are seeing an increased demand for localizing video, and that’s not surprising. Video is a powerful means of getting a message across. It is more engaging than text and allows visual demonstrations that can communicate better than mere words.In recent years the use of video in marketing and training has expanded exponentially. Global businesses are choosing to provide training and especially safety materials in video formatfor a variety of reasons. First, many people are visual learners, and video is easily integrated into e-learning programs. Second, in many types of jobs, workers may not have high literacy, making video safety training an efficient alternative to written or face-to-face presentations.
Video is also proving to be a much more effective means of content marketing. Numerous statistics show that video is much better at attracting an audience than other media. The price of video production has fallen dramatically, while, at the same time, the use of smartphones and other mobile devices capable of streaming video has risen dramatically in all parts of the world. Globally, use of mobile devices to access the internet surpassed the use of desktops in 2014 and the gap is widening.
It’s no wonder that an article in the Guardian calls video “the future of content marketing,” and Cisco predicts that video traffic will constitute 79% of all consumer internet traffic around the world by 2018.
In this climate, the use of video for international marketing is also increasing rapidly. But effective use of videos for international marketing requires effective localization. That means translating content, either through subtitles or voice-overs, and revising content where needed to maximize the appeal to the sensibilities of other cultures and to minimize the risk of offending them.

 

Related Articles:

The-perfect-e-learning-voice-over
Voice-overs or Subtitles? Which Should I Use?
Plan ahead
As with any materials intended for an international audience, video should be planned for its target audiences from the very beginning. Writing the script and planning the visual content with your foreign markets in mind will eliminate the need to make major changes in localized versions. The closer the video comes to traditional advertising, especially consumer advertising, the more you may need to consider having different versions for different markets. With more neutral content, such as product demonstrations, it should be possible to create videos where few changes beyond translation are necessary.
Use professionals
Using machine translation or non-professionals for any type of marketing materials is always a bad idea. You want your message to be as grammatically correct and fluent as the original to have the greatest impact. In addition, translation for videos often requires adaptation if for no other reason than to fit space limitations for subtitles or time limitations for voice-overs. Some materials may require transcreation. Professional language partners are used to dealing with these issues and will make sure that they are handled in a manner that will preserve your original message.
With voice-overs, cultural preferences for type of voice will differ and you will want to choose a voice that will resonate with the local audience. You will also want to be sure that voice-overs are clearly enunciated and clearly recorded. A professional language partner can advise  you on the best voices, give you choices of voice-over artists, and ensure that recording is done to professional standards.
Pay attention to SEO
SEO is just as important with your foreign-language videos as it is with local videos if you want your intended audience to find you. Make sure that the delivery platform you use will be suitable for the devices in use in your target countries. Tag and write descriptions separately for each language version of the video. You shouldn’t assume that the keywords you used for your original version can simply be translated into other languages. Your localization provider can help you validate the best keywords and phrases for helping users in your target market find your video content. You should also research the major search engines in the countries and their particular requirements.
If you will be using social media to promote your videos, find out about the major social media platforms in your target market and their demographics before you choose the best platforms to focus on.
Properly produced, localized videos can be just as effective a marketing tool for foreign-language audiences as it is for your local audience. And, while localizing a video may be more costly than localizing written content, the extra cost is well worth the investment when you consider the increased impact of online videos versus other marketing content.

You can search for local Voice Over Talents here www.suite16studio.com/voice-talents/

 

The Perfect e-learning Voice-Over

By Maria Møller Skovgaard-Simonsen created on in e-Learning

The Perfect e-learning Voice-Over

Every e-learning course, no matter the topic and audience, all have one thing in common – they need to make the information stick!A successful e-learning voice-over catches and holds the attention of the listener to enhance learning outcomes. The voice is a key component in most e-learning courses. You can argue that the voice-over can ‘make or break’ an e-learning project. To ensure that the voice-over ‘makes’ for a successful e-learning course, you should always consider the following.

Align the Voice with the Subject and Audience

Ask yourself, “Who would I hire to give a live presentation on this subject for this audience?”. The answer will provide an idea of a persona, which will make it much easier for you to find the right voice for your e-learning project. To answer this question, consider the fact that people learn best from persons (or voices), who they can relate to in the given context. A funky teenage voice is not likely to succeed in teaching experienced CMO’s the latest business strategies. Instead, this material should be taught by an experienced and professional-sounding voice. Credibility is key.

Related Article: male-vs-female-voices

Keep the Script Conversational

The voice-over must feel real and not sound like someone just reading the words. Imagine the previously mentioned presenter reading his material from a piece of paper – not especially motivational or engaging – right? To achieve the necessary natural feel to the script, you should write it in a “conversational language”.

Use Experienced and Professional Voice Talents

E-learning voice-overs set high standards for the voice talent. They need to sound knowledgeable and credible, even though they know nothing about the subject. They have to stay in character, narrate and motivate listeners for a longer period. They must have perfect enunciation and be able to change the mood according to the script, by using only their voice. This is not something everyone can do. If you want to make sure that the voice-over will serve the right purpose, we always recommend that you use experienced e-learning voice talents.

Post-Production is a Must

Clear and high-quality audio is crucial for an e-Learning voice-over. If your post-production is poor quality, this will most likely distract your audience and thereby limit the knowledge retention. Often, e-Learning courses include dialogues between one or more characters. If these aren’t recorded in the same room with the same technical setup, it will almost always sound like the characters are in different locations. However, professional post-production can provide quality recordings and make the dialogue sound natural and credible.

Apply Music and Sound Effects

Have you ever tried feeling brave after watching an action-movie in the movie theater? Or feeling awesome, strolling down the street, listening to the latest monster hit on iTunes? Music has a great impact on human emotions and can compliment the voice-over to emphasize key points, keep the motivation high and set the right mood for learning environment. There are lots of synergies to find here (yep – I know it’s a cliché – but it’s true).

No e-learning course is the same. It all comes down to your project! Apply this advice as a guideline for you next e-learning project.

You can search for local Voice Over Talents here www.suite16studio.com/voice-talents/

1 Tip to Free Up Your Singing Voice

1 Tip to Free Up Your Singing Voice

In all my years of singing and teaching, the most important single concept I have come to understand is that singing sounds and feels a whole lot better when the singer trusts that their body already knows how to make a resonant sound. This trust has come from the knowledge that as humans, our bodies are one of the most efficient mechanisms for making sound that exists in nature. We are all born with the ability to make an incredibly resonant sound and the majority of us have no problem trusting that idea when we talk. Yet when we sing, all of a sudden that trust goes out the window and we think we need to control, force, push, or help the voice come out a certain way to ensure we sound good. In an effort to sound good, our best intentions sabotage the efficiency and resonance that we already have, and we end up with a less resonant, less efficient, and less “good” sound.

So what to do? Stop “singing” and start “talking on pitch.”

This may sound simplistic and like mere semantics to you, but the moment you switch the script inside your head to stop singing and start talking on pitch instead, you take the pressure off of needing to sound “good,” the habits of control loosen their grip, and the voice will start to align more freely with the efficiency and resonance your body is innately built to produce.

Here is an exercise to get in touch with what it feels like to “talk on pitch.”

1. Begin with a simple breathing exercise. Focus on releasing the belly and releasing the ribs to allow the breath to come in freely. Be careful not to suck air in or pull the shoulders upwards in an effort to get more air. Rather, as you inhale, visualize sending the breath on an imaginary journey down through your body, through your feet, and into the floor as though you were growing roots with this breath beneath your feet. Then, exhale on a hiss, being sure to engage the support in your lower abdomen and oblique muscles. Place the palm of your hand over your lower abdomen (very low, just above your pelvic bone), and what you should feel when you hiss is that these muscles go from being soft to being taut, and they stay taut without pushing inwards throughout the duration of the hiss. If you feel these muscles shoving inwards towards your spine as you hiss, you are doing too much. You do not need to push them inwards to move your air, rather just engage them and keep them taut as you hiss, then release them on the next inhale. Do several hisses this way to get in touch with solid support.

2. Now, allow a nice free breath to come in and instead of hissing, say the word “hey” in a drawn out fashion over two or three beats as though you were trying to get the attention of someone across the room. Keep the same solid breath support you had while hissing, the only difference here being that you are adding a vibration in the form of the word “hey.” Do this “hey” a few times, playing with duration of time you draw it out. Then play with talking it in different pitch centers in your voice (head voice, chest voice, mix, etc.). But no matter what you are experimenting with, keep to the intention of talking. Do not “sing” in any way because thinking, “sing” will put you right back in your old technique habit.

3. Now find a comfortable pitch center in your range and talk the numbers one through five slowly on one pitch, lengthening the vowels of each number so they are nice and long, and the numbers sound drawn out. Stay on your breath support.

4. Now talk the numbers one through five rising in pitch up a five-note major scale continuing to lengthen the vowels of the numbers to be long and drawn out.

By the end of this exercise you should have some idea of what it feels like to “talk on pitch.” Talking on pitch is really singing, and singing is really just talking on pitch. The way we frame it in our consciousness is important because it has an effect on the attachments we have to the action, which makes the outgoing sound more or less resonant and free depending on how our body reacts to the instructions our brain has been giving.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

Arden Kaywin is a singer, private vocal coach, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Kaywin’s full bio

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Here’s How To Rock Your Voice Over

Here’s How To Rock Your Voice Over

 

Admit it: When Rocky Balboa ran through the streets of Philadelphia, your heart was pumping almost as hard as his was. You can remember almost every frame of that iconic moment in film history. What you can also remember is the music. Moreover, when you play that same music—even if the movie isn’t on—you still get pumped up. What does this mean for you?Music makes us feel powerful.

That’s why you see runners listening to music, prize fighters listening to their favorite songs while getting into the zone before a fight and crowds getting riled up by rock anthems at sporting events worldwide. But not all songs have the same effect. New research indicates that the levels of bass are a key factor in their effectiveness.

When asked about the impact of music, Dennis Hsu of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and author of the study noted that “When watching major sports events, my coauthors and I frequently noticed athletes with their earphones on while entering the stadium and in the locker room, …and the ways these athletes immerse themselves in the music — some with their eyes steely shut and some gently nodded along the beats — seem as if the music is mentally preparing and toughening them up for the competition about to occur.” This prompted the evaluation of music, which resulted in findings that clearly indicate that music with heavy bass and steady beats create the most intense reaction. As you go about partnering your voiceover work with music, you should obviously chose a melody that has the same impact.

But adding heavy beats to a voiceover won’t always work. In fact, some findings indicate that adding a voice over a recognized track that creates such intensity could hurt the message. Our advice is to find music that speaks to your audience and let it do its magic to captivate. Once you’ve hooked them, then it is time to let your voiceover talent relay your message. This is a subtle way of attaching your image to something that immediately connects with your audience and also allows your words to be spoken to a fully engaged group.

As you’ll no doubt also be considering using stock music that might not have an immediate impact, it would be wise to use music that still creates the bass that listeners will find empowering while also leaving quieter bridges for voiceovers to connect at their best.

Here’s an excellent example where a quieter musical portion allows the voice over talent to convey the message to the audience:

If you’re looking for someone who can inject the right voice for your projectin conjunction with the specific music you have in mind, be sure to check out VoiceBunny’s vast options of voice over actors who specifically do movie trailers. There are virtually countless options available to you to ensure that you’ll find the right voice to affordably reach your demographic of listeners.

musical notes from Flickr via Wylio

By:Jun Loayza

Jun Loayza is the Chief Growth Officer of Bunny Inc. 

Male vs Female Voices

.”>Male vs. Female Voices

Written by Henrik Timm

Which is better for Advertisements?

We have helped a lot of clients find the right voice for their advertisement. From this, we have learned that the choice between a male or female voice-over is often the starting point for their decision. We think this is a quite interesting behavior – and we’d like to challenge it a bit.

The battle of the genders regarding which voice is better for conveying a certain message has been going on since the early days of radio. In history, male broadcasters have often been preferred for factual content, whereas female broadcasters were favored for the reflective broadcasting. Because of their deeper tone, male voices are naturally perceived as trustworthy and capable of conveying authority – think Morgan Freeman – that man only tells the truth. Opposite, people tend to dismiss female voices in relation to authority, as they generally perceive them as soothing and emphatic. Studies conclude that the differences in gender preference are, more often than not, caused by prejudice and stereotyping. As we take a look at the modern voice-over market this seems apparent – female voice-overs promote beauty and cleaning products while male voice-overs promote cars, tools, and aftershave (are you thinking about Old Spice too, even though it’s not technically a voice-over?).

This makes perfect sense, and we know that it works. Women promote women-stuff and men promote men-stuff.

 

“Isn’t advertisment all about standing out from the crowd?”

However, isn’t advertisment all about standing out from the crowd?

What if we told you that women compensate for their high vocal pitch by charging their voice to sound energetic, thus conveying authority? Well – they do! Women in powerful positions tend to thrust their words to increase their authority.

This is interesting as it goes against the stereotype – an authoritative woman, who would have thought? (Well, being a married man this isn’t really a surprise to me). In fact, men and women are equally capable of conveying all speak styles and emotions, they just don’t do it the same way.

So – in fact, the gender decision does not necessarily have to conform to stereotypes. You can convey the same message either way and maybe even have an added bonus of “sticking out”, as you go against what is expected.

We are not telling you to ignore stereotypes – they do work. We are just informing you that there are alternatives that can work just as well.

It all comes down to your goals, brand, product and target audience.

Does it sound interesting? Let’s have a talk about your project and the voice you are considering.

The ABCs of Voiceover

 

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

 

 

We’re pleased to present you with this amazing voice-over glossary created by Marc Cashman of Cashman Commercials!

This glossary of terms used in the field of voice-over, or voice acting, could be one of the most comprehensive compilations of terms available.

It has been distilled from many sources (see bibliography) and is fairly up-to-date.

A few words and phrases may be arcane, but Marc wanted the glossary be as inclusive as possible. If you find some definitions lacking in scope and/or specificity, or if you feel that some terms have been left out, we encourage you to email suggestions or suggested revisions. If they help clarify the definition they will be incorporated into this glossary.

Related Articles :1-tip-to-free-up-your-singing-voice/

GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN VOICE OVER
AFTRA: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. A union for Radio and TV actors and voice actors.

account: An advertiser, also referred to as a client.

account executive: The person at the ad agency who serves as a liaison between the agency and the client.

ADR: Automated Dialogue Replacement in a film. A process where actors replace dialogue in a film or video.

ad lib: A spontaneous spoken addition or alteration to a written script.

agent: A person or group of people who represent talent and bring them into their facility to audition, or arrange for an actor to audition for casting directors and producers.

air: Also known as airtime, it’s the media time slotted for a commercial, hence on the air.

air check: A recorded portion of a radio program for demonstration purposes.

ambience: The continuous SFX behind voice-over suggesting the monologue or dialogue in a specific setting, like a hospital, restaurant, retail store, gas station, etc.

analog: The old way of processing and recording sound on tape.

animatic: A rough version of a TV spot, usually with storyboard images set to music and voice-over, for client presentation of a concept.

announcement: A commercial or non-commercial message. Also referred to as a spot.

announcer: The role assigned to a voice-actor that usually has non-character copy. Abbreviated as ANN or ANNC on scripts.

articulation: Clear enunciation.

attitude: How the character feels about a certain product, or how an actor comes across in general.

audio: Transmission, reception or reproduction of sound.

audition: A non-paying, trial performance for voice talent where voice-over copy is read. Usually takes place at an agent’s office, an ad agency, a casting director’s office, or a production company’s studio, and usually the best actor is selected for the final job…usually.

availability: Literally, the time an actor is available for a session. Advertisers or producers will call an agent to find out about an actor’s availability.

back bed: The instrumental end of a jingle, usually reserved for location, phone numbers, legal disclaimers, or any other information the advertiser needs to add.

background: Known also as background noise, it’s what’s placed behind the voice-over. Mainly music or sound effects.

balls: A deep, resonant sound.

bed: The music or SFX behind or under an announcer’s voice.

billboard: The emphasis given a certain word or phrase in a script. Usually, a rectangle, or billboard” is drawn around the client name and/or product.

bleed: Noise from the headphones being picked up by the microphone or from other ambient sources, like other tracks.

board: The audio console from which the engineer operates. The audio engineer has faders that adjust the volume and mix the various elements in a Radio spot. Also known as a console.

booking: A decision and commitment on the advertiser’s part to hire you for a session. The client calls the actor or actor’s agent to book an actor for a job. Your agent would say, You have a booking at 1PM tomorrow.

boom: An overhead mic stand.

booth: An enclosed, soundproofed room where voice talent usually works.

branching: Recording one part of a sentence with variables within that sentence as a means of customizing a response. Often recorded for multimedia games and voice mail systems. Also known as concatenation.

break up: When vocal audio becomes distorted and unstable, usually caused by equipment problems or telephone line interference.

bump: Either to remove a person from a casting list, or as an additional amount of studio time in a session. Also known as a bumper.

butt-cut: When sound files are placed together tightly, particularly for a V-O demo.

button: A single scripted or improvised word, phrase or sentence at the end of a spot that clinches the commercial without introducing additional copy points. See sting.

buy: As in That’s a buy.” Also known as a keeper. It’s the take the client selects as the best. Buy also refers to the amount of money spent on the media time for a commercial spot or campaign.

buy-out: A one-time fee paid for voice-over services on a commercial. Common in many non-union situations and industrials, as well as CD ROMs, dubbing, looping and A.D.R. work.

cadence: How breaks are placed between words.

call-back: A second shot at an audition. One step closer to booking the spot.

call letters: The letters assigned to a Radio station by the FCC. Stations east of the Mississippi River have call letters starting with W, while stations that are west of the Mississippi have names starting with K.

call time: The time scheduled for an audition.

cans: Another word for headphones.

cattle call: An audition where hundreds of people try out for a part on a first-come-first-served basis.

CD-ROM: Compact Disc-Read Only Memory.

character: The person an actor is cast as in a spot.

Class A: National network commercial usage.

cold read: An audition where an actor is given no time to rehearse.

color: Subtle speech nuances that give texture and shading to words to make them interesting and meaningful.

commercial: Also referred to as a spot, it is a pre-recorded message which advertises a product or service. Sometimes abbreviated as COMML.

compression: Reduces the dynamic range of an actor’s voice. Engineers apply compression to cut through background music and sound effects.

conflict: Doing two commercials for the same kind of product. An agent will clarify with the client whether doing a specific spot would put an actor in conflict.

console: A large desk-like piece of equipment where the audio engineer monitors, records and mixes a voice-over session.

control room: Where the engineer and producer (and many times, the client) are located. This is usually a separate room from the booth.

copy: Also known as the script. It’s the text of a spot.

copy points: The specific benefits of a product or service, placed throughout the script by the copywriter.

Creative Director: The person at the ad agency responsible for the work of all the other creatives.

cross talk: When copy spoken into one actor’s microphone is picked up by another mic. The sound is said to spill over or bleed into the other actor’s mic.

cue: An electronic or physical signal given to an actor to begin performing.

cue up: Matching to time and speed, lining up an actor’s voice to the visuals or music.

cut: A specific segment of the voice-over recording, usually referred to during editing.

cut and paste: The act of assembling different takes into a composite, edited whole.

cutting through: When a voice slices through,” or doesn’t get drowned out by music and sound effects.

DAT: An abbreviation for digital audiotape, high-quality audiotape used in sound studios.

dead air: When a voice-over pause is too long.

decibel: A unit for measuring the intensity of sound. 0 would be no sound, 130 would cause acute aural pain.

de-esser: A piece of equipment used to remove excess sibilance.

demo: A demonstration of an actor’s voice talent. A 3-D calling card, representing the actor when they cannot be present physically. Also, a format used by ad agencies to present an idea to a client. An actor is paid a demo rate to perform a demo session. These demos are usually not broadcast, but if they are accepted as is, the demo is upgraded to a session fee.

demographics: The components that describe the target audience. This is done by age, sex, income, education, etc.

dialogue: A script calling for two people talking to each other.

digital recording: A process where sound is converted into numbers and stored on a DAT or computer hard drive.

director: The person responsible for giving an actor voice-over direction in an audition, session or class.

distortion: Fuzziness in the sound quality of a recorded piece.

donut: A section of a spot that will usually feature another voice, usually an announcer. Many times it’s the section of a jingle that showcases an announcement.

double: A term for a two-person spot, or dialogue.

drive time: The most frequently listened to times on the Radio. Morning drive refers to the hours between 6AM and 10AM, evening drive refers to the slot between 3PM and 7PM.

drop off: Not ending strong at the end of a word or phrase.

drop out: A minute moment of silence inside a recorded word or phrase.

dry mouth: A condition where your mouth has little or no saliva.

dub: Also called a dupe (as in duplicate), it’s copy of a spot or spots on cassette, DAT or CD. The verb to dub, or dubbing is the process of transferring recorded material from one source to another.

dubbing: This dubbing is the process of dialogue replacement in a foreign film, as in dubbing a French voice into English.

earphones: Also known as cans, headphones or headsets. Worn during the session to hear your own voice as well as cues and directions from the engineer or producer. Also used to converse with the client during an ISDN or phone-patch session.

echo: A repetition of sound.

editing: The removal, addition or re-arrangement of recorded material. Voice elements can be spread apart, slowed down, speeded up, clipped, eliminated, etc. to achieve the final take.

EFX: Effects. Another term for SFX.

ellipsis: Three periods in a row that usually signify a pause…

engineer: The person who operates the audio equipment during the voice-over session.

equalization: Also known as EQ, it is used to stress certain frequencies, which can alter the sound of a voice.

eye-brain-mouth coordination: What every good voice actor has to have. It is the ability to lift” the words off a page effortlessly, without omitting, adding or stumbling.

FCC: The Federal Communications Commission. Created in 1944 to regulate all interstate and foreign communications by Radio and TV.

fade: To increase or decrease the volume of sound.

fade in/fade out: When you turn your head away from the mic or towards it.

false start: Situation where a talent makes a mistake within the first line or two of copy. The take is usually stopped and sometimes re-slated.

feedback: A distorted, high pitched sound, usually emanating from headphones or speakers. Many times caused by problems with the console or headphones getting too close to the microphone.

filter: What engineers put on a mic to make an actor sound clearer.

fish-bowl effect: When the actor in the booth cannot hear what the engineer or producer is saying, or vice-versa.

fluctuation: How often a voice goes up or down, also known as inflection.

Foley: Also known in the business as a Foley Stage, this is a special sound stage used for source sound effects. Used to record up-close sound effects for film or video, where the Foley artists match sound with picture, such as walking, running, doors opening or closing, glass breaking, shots firing, etc.

franchised: Term applied to talent agents who adopt AFTRA guidelines.

front bed: The opposite of the back bed, where the announce is at the beginning of a jingle.

gain: The volume of a voice, or a fader on the console.

gig: A job. A sig gig is a union job.

gobos: Portable partitions positioned around the actor to absorb or reflect sound, or to isolate the actor from another on-mic actor.

good pipes: Description of a talent with vocal strength, authority and resonance.

go up for: To audition or to be considered for a job. I’m up for a Ford national,” means that an actor is in contention for a national network commercial for Ford.

hard sell: Approach used for high volume retail clients. One producer refers to hard sell as: I’ll stop shouting when you start buying!”

harmonizer: Also referred to as a Munchkiniser, it’s a piece of equipment designed to change the pitch of the voice—usually upward.

headset: A set of headphones. See cans.

high speed dub: A copy of a tape or CD made at several times normal speed.

highs: The high frequency sound of a voice.

hold: When a potential client likes an audition enough to hold some of an actor’s time for a possible booking–a step before the booking. Usually the client is deciding between a couple of voice-acting candidates and wants to cover their bets.

holding fee: The money an actor receives if the client wants to hold a spot for airing at a later date.

hook: Starting out on a high note on the first word of a spot to grab attention and immediately dipping down. Also used to describe the chorus section of a song.

hot: Term used to describe a mic that’s on.

house demo: An agency’s demo, the condensed version (each actor has only a one minute demo) of their roster of male and female talent.

in-house: A production produced for the client in the client’s own facilities.

in the can: A phrase connoting that a part of the copy or the entire spot is acceptable and done.

inflection: The raising or lowering of voice pitch—a way of reinforcing the meaning of a word by changing the way it is said. See also fluctuation.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network. Special high-quality lines that allow voice recording to be digitally transmitted from one recording facility to another.

jingle: A musical commercial.

laundry list: A string of copy points–adjectives or prices and items in the copy. Sometimes a list of benefits of the product or service. The object for the talent is to read them with various emphasis so they don’t sound like a list.

lay it down: Another phrase meaning let’s record.”

lay out: Don’t speak, as in Lay out while the music plays in this section.”

level: To set a voice at the optimal point. When the engineer says, Let’s get a level,” the actor will start reading the copy at the level they’ll be speaking throughout the spot.

library music: Pre-recorded music that producers use when the budget doesn’t allow original music. Each piece of music requires a fee to be paid, usually on an annual basis.

lines: The copy that’s read by the voice talent. To run lines is to rehearse a dialogue with another actor.

line reading: When a producer explains to a voice talent how they want a line read by reading it themselves.

live mic: The mic is on and can pick up everything said in the booth. That means everyone in the control room. See hot.

live tag: The copy delivered at the end of a spot, usually by a staff announcer at the Radio station.

local: Refers to the union in a particular locale. Usually accompanied by a number, i.e., AFTRA Local 47.

looping: The older technology of recording background sound effects and noises for TV or film. Done in post-production after the show is recorded.

lows: The low frequency of a voice.

major markets: Refers to the Big Three”: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. These markets pay the most in voice-over work.

marking copy: Placing different marks above, below, around, in between and circling words on a script. Best done in pencil, because direction or emphasis may change.

master: The original recording that all dubs are made from.

mic: A common form of the word mike, as in microphone.

milking: Stretching words out and giving them as much emphasis as possible, as in Milk it.”

mix: The blending of voice, sound effects, music, etc. Final mix usually refers to the finished product.

monitors: The loudspeakers in the control room.

monologue: One-person copy. Also referred to as a single.

mouth noise: The clicks and pops a microphone picks up from a dry mouth.

MP3: The name of the file extension and also the name of the type of file for MPEG, audio layer 3. Layer 3 is one of three coding schemes (layer 1, layer 2 and layer 3) for the compression of audio signals. Layer 3 uses perceptual audio coding and psycho acoustic compression to remove all superfluous information (more specifically, the redundant and irrelevant parts of a sound signal. The stuff the human ear doesn’t hear anyway. The result in real terms is layer 3 shrinks the original sound data from a CD (with a bit rate of 1411.2 kilobits per one second of stereo music) by a factor of 12 (down to 112-128kbps) without sacrificing sound quality.

multiple: Refers to script with three or more characters in it.

multitrack: A machine capable of recording and replaying several different tracks at the same time.

music bed: The soundtrack that will be placed behind the copy, or mixed in with it.

non-union: A voice-over job that is paid off the books, under the table—not through the union. A non-union shop is one that is not a signatory to SAG or AFTRA.

off-camera: A part where an actor supplies only their voice to a TV spot or video presentation.

on mic/off mic: Either speaking or not speaking directly into the microphone. An actor is always on mic when recording, unless shouting, and then turns his head slightly to speak off mic.

outtake: A previous take that hasn’t been approved and accepted.

overlapping: When an actor starts his or her line a moment before another actor finishes theirs.

over scale: Any amount paid over the minimum wage set by AFTRA or SAG.

over-the-top: Direction that makes the copy sound larger than life, requiring the actor to overact.

pace: The speed in which an actor reads copy.

paper noise: Sound that the mic picks up as you move your script. Set it on the mic stand and leave it alone. If you have two pieces of copy and no stand, hold one page in each hand. If you have more than two pages, you may stop, place the next page in front of you, and continue. The engineer will accommodate you, as they don’t want to have to edit out paper noise.

patch: To make an electrical/digital connection for recording and/or broadcast. Also referred to as a phone patch or land patch.

paymaster: A payroll service that handles talent payments for the producer.

phasing: When sound reflects or bounces of certain surfaces and causes a weird, disjointed effect in the recording.

phonemes: The small units of sound used to make words.

phones: A short word for headphones.

pick-up: Re-recording a section of copy at a certain point. 90% of your read may be a in the can, but there may be a phrase, sentence or paragraph that the director feels could be done a bit better, clearer, faster, slower, etc. The director tells you exactly where they want you to pick-up” your line(s)—where to start from and where to end at. Read a sentence or phrase before the pick-up starting point, as well as the ending point. This is done to help the engineer better edit the pick-up, matching phrasing and levels.

pick-up session: An additional session to complete the original. There may be copy changes or character changes in a spot before it finally airs. This is usually due to the client changing their mind before they commit the spot to air.

pitch: The musical level at which a person speaks.

placement: Where the mic is positioned when an actor is reading.

playback: Listening to what has just been recorded.

plosive: Any consonant or combination of consonants that causes popping.

plus ten: Refers to the contractual agreement in which the producer agrees to add an additional 10% to the actor’s payment for the agent’s commission.

pop: When voice sounds are registering too hard into the mic. Usually caused by plosives.

pop filter: A foam cover enveloping the mic or a nylon windscreen in front of the mic. Mitigates popping. Also known as a pop stopper.

post-production: Also known as post. The work done after the voice-talent has finished recording the session. This includes mixing in SFX and music.

pre-life/pre-scene: The previous history an actor invents for his character.

producer: The person in charge of the voice-over session. Many times the producer is also the director.

promo: A promotional commercial spot used by TV and Radio stations specifically to increase audience awareness of upcoming programming.

protection: Also known as insurance, this is an additional take requested by the producer to insure that they have a back-up of a take they like. Usually phrased as, One more for protection.”

PSA: Public Service Announcement. Commercials produced to raise awareness of current issues, such as smoking, drug abuse, pollution, pregnancy, etc.

punch: Reading a word or line with more intensity.

punch in: Sometimes referred to as a pick-up, it’s the rejoining or continuation of a piece of copy. The engineer will punch in a pick-up at a certain point in the copy, to help with editing later on.

read: The style of reading an actor presents as a voice talent, or your performance, as in That was a good read.”

real-time: An event that takes as long as it actually takes, as opposed to high-speed.

released: Being dropped from consideration from a voice-over job. It’s one of two results from being on hold.

residuals: Continuing payments an actor receives every 13-weeks their spot airs. Also referred to as 13 weeks per spot per cycle.

resonance: The full quality of a voice created by vibrations in resonating chambers, such as the mouth and sinus areas.

re-use: What actors are paid when their spot is re-run. It is usually the same amount they received for the first 13-week cycle.

reverb: A variation of echo. It’s an effect added to your voice in post.

room tone: The sound a room makes without anyone in it.

rough mix: The step before the final mix. This is when the producer and engineer fine-tune levels of voice, music and sound effects.

run-through: Rehearsing the copy before recording. Like a dress rehearsal.

SAG: Screen Actors’ Guild. The union for film actors and performers.

safety: This is a re-take that the producer or client wants to make sure that if there’s something technically wrong with the take they like, they have a back up. Let’s do one more for safety,” is a common phrase. See protection.

S.A.S.E.: Self-addressed stamped envelope.

SFX: Shorthand for sound effects. Also seen as EFX.

scale: The minimum, established wages set by SAG and AFTRA for working talent. Double scale or triple scale refers to these wages times 2 or 3.

scale plus 10: Refers to the extra 10% paid to the actor’s agent on a job.

scratch track: A rough audio or video track that a production company or ad agency may put together for an actor to read to. See animatic.

series of three: Term used to describe a set of wild lines to be recorded, done in a set of three. Each read should be varied slightly.

session: The event where a talent performs a script for recording purposes.

session fee: Payment for the first commercial within the session. If an actor does two spots, they get a session fee plus payment for the other spot. If the same actor does a tag, they get a separate tag fee. And if they record only two tags, they get paid session plus one tag.

shave: To pare down your read, as in, Can you shave three seconds off that read?”

sibilance: A drawn out or excessive S” sound during speech. Some sibilance is joined with a whistle. This is a very annoying sound, which some engineers mitigate with a sound tool called a de-esser.

sides: Commercial scripts for video, where the action is in the left column, the dialogue on the right, or animation.

signatory: Someone (usually a producer or ad agency) who has signed a contract with SAG or AFTRA stating that they will only work on union jobs and promise to pay talent union scale.

signature: The specific quality of a voice that makes it unique.

single: Also known as a monologue, or one-person copy.

slate: Announcing a name and/or a number before a take, usually paired with the character the actor is playing. The slate helps the director and engineer identify and keep track of the actors and the various takes. Most slates are announced by the engineer, but sometimes the actors slates their own name.

spec: Volunteering your services and postponing payment until a project sells. The popular definition is working for nothing now on the promise of getting more than you deserve later on.”

spokesperson: Also referred to as spokes. A voice actor who is hired on a repeat contractual basis to represent a product or company.

spot: A commercial. Originated from the days when all commercials were performed live, in between songs played on the radio. The performers were on the spot.”

stair stepping: Having the pitch progressively rise up or down as a means of defining phrases. This technique is especially effective when reading laundry lists.

stand: Where copy is placed in the booth.

station I.D.: A short sound bite where the call letters of the station are announced or sung.

steps: Increasing the energy on a long list of adjectives or superlatives.

storyboard: The art director’s and copywriter’s conception of a TV spot, drawn on a large board for presentation to a client. The talent gets to see what the on-camera actors are doing in the spot. See animatic.

studio: The facility where all recording and mixing for a commercial takes place.

sweeps: The TV and Radio ratings periods when the total viewing or listening audience is estimated, thereby determining advertising rates. These occur in February, May and November.

sync: Matching a voice from a previous take. Also refers to aligning tracks to start or end together.

Taft-Hartley: This labor law protects an actor from having to join the union for their first job. She has to join AFTRA if she’s hired for another union job within 30 days.

tag: Information placed at the end of a commercial containing a date, time, phone number, website address, legal disclaimer, etc. A different announcer sometimes reads the tag.

take: The recording of one specific piece of voice-over copy. All takes are numbered consecutively, usually slated by the engineer.

talent: A broadcast performer, entertainer or voice-over artist.

talkback: Refers to the button connected to the microphone in the engineer’s console. It allows the engineer or director to talk to the talent in the booth.

tease: The introductory line used to promote interest. Promos are sometimes referred to as teasers.

tempo: The speed at which copy is delivered.

tight: Not a lot of time to read, or referring to a script that has a lot of words and not much time to say them in, e.g., This is a really tight :60.”

time: Literally, the length of a spot. Most Radio spots time in at :60, TV spots at :30.

time code: A digital read-out on the engineer’s console referring to audiotape, videotape positions. Used in film dubbing.

tone: A specific sound or attitude.

track: Either to record, or the actual audio piece. We’re ready to track,” as opposed to Listen to this track.”

trailer: A commercial that promotes a film or video release.

undercutting: Dipping down in a sentence and throwing a portion of it away.

units: The number assigned by AFTRA and SAG to cities throughout the U.S. Each city varies in their amount of unit value by their population. This directly affects the amount of money an actor receives in residuals.

use fee: An additional fee paid to the performer when their spot is actually aired.

value added: Refers to words in a script that give the impression you’re getting more than you paid for. Plus, free, new, improved and extra are examples.

voice print: The vocal equivalent of fingerprints. Can be seen on the monitor of any computer using a ProTools® or similar sound tool.

V-O: Short for voice-over. Also seen as AVO (announcer voice-over). It’s the act of providing a voice to a media project, where the voice is usually mixed over the top of music and SFX. Voice-over was the term originally used to describe an announcer’s voice on a television spot, referring to the process as voice over picture.” The more accurate term now is voice acting, which is the art of using the voice to bring life to written words.

VU meter: A meter on the engineer’s console that indicates the level of sound passing through the board.

walla: The sound of many voices talking at once, used as background sounds for a party or restaurant. Originally, it was thought that saying the words walla walla” over and over again in the background would simulate good sound ambiance for a crowded scene, but the prevailing view now is that actors doing walla should converse in the way they would normally do so in that situation.

wet: A voice or sound with reverb added to it.

wild line: A single line from a script that is reread several times in succession until the perfect read is achieved. It’s considered wild because it is read separately from the entire script. Often performed in a series of three, where the actor reads the line three times in a row without interruption. Each line is read slightly differently, unless otherwise directed.

wild spot: A flat fee for a spot that airs for an indeterminate number of times within a 13-week cycle. Can be local, regional or national.

windscreen: A pop filter, or pop stopper.

woodshed: To rehearse or practice reading copy out loud. From the old days of theater where actors would have to rehearse in a woodshed before going out to perform.

wrap: The end, as in That’s a wrap.â€