Getting a professional, high quality voiceover is a critical part of a successful animated promotional video.You don’t want to spend a huge amount of time and resources coming up with amazing visuals and killer story only to have your husband read the script and record it through an iphone while wrapped up in blankets in the closet. Ok, that may work, but it’s a very risky path to take.
If you aren’t comfortable with that option and you’re looking for some direction, look no further. I’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find my top tips for finding, auditioning and hiring the best voiceover talent possible for your video.
Tip #1 - Go to the right place
There are 2 ways to find the right talent:
The easiest and fastest way to land some great talent is through online communities and marketplaces. Not only is it a one stop shop, but they also offer assistance in setting up job boards and negotiating rates.
My go to for nearly all voiceover talent is voices.com. Like most online markets you will find top notch talent and also a growing sea of amateurs. (Read onto next tips to avoid hiring a novice.)
The second place to find talent is through your current network of colleagues, friends and family. If you can find a reliable source to refer you to quality talent in the voiceover industry, this is golden.
Connections you may have in the television/film industry could land you with some amazing talent! Also, you never know who your family or friends may know - so keep your ears open about possible connections here.
Tip #2 - Attract Talent with a Short & Clear Job Description
If you are posting a job to markets such as voices.com, be sure to describe your project in a way that makes it sound professional and worthwhile. You’ve already got a winning post if you are creating animation - it’s fun, different and always memorable - so most talents are thrilled to have their voice recorded along side.
If you have examples of the voice style you are after, such as a specific actor or announcer, include a link to a specific example in the job posting. Also, including visual style of your video is incredibly helpful to determine the quality of voice.
Be clear about the type of voice you are looking for: gender, age, accent, certain characteristics, tone and pacing of your script. And make sure you are clear about the feeling and message you are trying to communicate. A professional will take this direction serious and deliver on all accounts so it’s up to you to make sure it’s crystal clear up front.
Above is an example of a simple, yet very effective job description I posted recently. Note the example link included along with clear direction of what we wanted the voiceover to sound like along with clear direction of what we didn't want it to sound like. We had over 125 auditions to listen to after this post!
Extra Pro tip: If you are posting through a voice talent marketplace, such as voices.com, the online posting will walk you through the entire job posting process. And if you need assistance, there is an option to hire competent and very friendly account managers to find just the right talent for your video.
Tip # 3 - Be up on industry rates
Of course the biggest question with all aspects of video projects is how much is this going to cost?
Rates are based on the type of media you are producing and the duration of the script. With this rate sheet, it’s easy peasy to price your job.
But, be warned...when you post your voiceover job, you will get numerous auditions with a huge variation of prices. Whatever you do, don’t go cheap with your choice. Like most things in life, you do get what you pay for.
I learned early on that quality talent comes at a price and let me tell you, it is absolutely worth it.
I’m not saying you will need to hire the top priced talent. But if someone is offering a price too good to be true, it’s probably because they either don’t have a decent studio set up to record high quality or they’re an amateur just desperate to get some work under their belt.
On the flip side, if you hear a talent who is perfect, but out of your budget - you can message the directly and ask them if they’d be willing to negotiate to your price. You do have to be reasonable and respectful of the professional here, but it never hurts to ask. Also, if you are uncomfortable doing this, the account managers at voices.com are happy to assist.
Tip #4 - Know What to Listen for in Auditions
This brings me to the next important tip...Know what to listen for when you are sifting through all your auditions. It is easy to get distracted by so many different voices and if they’ve all read a sample of your script, it’s even more exciting to hear different takes on the message.
But make sure you prioritize what you are looking for in a talent. I usually keep the top 3 - 5 “must have” items written down to keep me in line. The talent must pass every one of these items. Some of these items are totally subjective, but with a framework set out, you can clarify exactly what this means for your particular message.
Here are some examples:
- Does the sound quality pass? ie - good volume level, clear sound, no static or glitchy distortions?
- Does she sound like a Mom? - Friendly, approachable
- Does he sound like a Doctor? - professional, authoritative but friendly
- Do they sound the age I am looking for?
- Do they read fast enough/slow enough?
- Do they have vary in texture and tone - do they sound conversational and interesting?
Extra Pro Tip - if you have some footage available such as an animatic or some sample animation - play it along while listening to the voiceover auditions - It is the best way to preview the final results.
Tip # 5 - Be Clear and Concise with Direction and Feedback
Once you’ve hired your awesome pro voice talent and they have received your script - it’s your job to be extra crystal clear on direction. It’s important to re-iterate all requirements for the job to your voiceover talent before they begin.
If there are any words or names in your script that may be confusing to pronounce, it is a good idea to hop on the phone with your talent and pronounce them audibly.
Also, if there is a specific tone or texture you are going after, explain this to them. You may not know exactly how to describe it, so having a conversation will clear up any areas you or your talent may be unsure about.
When they do deliver the recording - there may be some areas you are not entirely happy with. At this point you would ask for “pick-ups” - meaning, the talent will “pick-up” and re-read requested segments once you have clearly defined what you’d like different.
Once again, be clear and have a phone conversation if you feel it’s not getting through to your talent. Most agreements with a talent will include a round or 2 of pick ups, so don’t squander these with vague feedback. Make sure you and the talent are very clear on what must be achieved in the pick up. Otherwise, you will end up paying them for extra pick-ups and/or the talent will become annoyed by your constant requests.
In Conclusion - Remember your Ps and Qs
Hiring a Voiceover talent can be a great experience if you follow these guidelines. It is actually a lot of fun to hear your script come to life and hear how voices interpret your message.
Remember to always be courteous and kind to your talent. Once you find top notch talents, you want to keep them close for future projects so be sure to pay them quickly and thank them for their high quality work. And if you are working with them through a talent market such as voices.com, leave them a great review if they’ve earned it.
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