Working on Long-Form Narration Projects

I’ve been extremely busy lately, working on three large long-form narration projects. One is Project Management training for a large construction firm, another is materials to help prepare students for college and their post-graduation job search, and the newest project is narrating World Book Encyclopedia materials for web use.


One of the cool things about doing narration projects like these is how much I learn about a huge variety of industries and occupations.  I’ve learned a lot about ladder safety, accounting, how large contractors do business, even how to spot all types of insurance fraud.  After doing this for 20 years, I’d be a kick-ass contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!”


With long-form narration, of course consistency in energy and clarity of read are both important, but bottom line: efficiency is the key. Companies won’t directly make money off of training, though in the long-run, superior training will improve productivity and improve worker safety, among other benefits. But unfortunately, training materials are considered a “cost” rather than an “investment” by many companies, so budgets are tight on most of these projects. So this means that a voice talent who can work very efficiently will make the producers who hire them very happy clients!


Part of what I mean by the term “efficiency,” is that the voice talent will make relatively few flubs while reading. But it also means that the read will be right the first time as much as possible, in terms of inflections and highlighting the appropriate phrases. One strategy that helps is to have my eyes and brain be several words ahead of my mouth. Reading forward like this enables my brain to have an extra split second to see where the sentence is going and decide how to read it before my mouth actually does the talking. This will minimize re-reads and save much time.


Also, my experience as an audio engineer on projects I record from my own studio have helped me to discover little tricks I can do to make editing out flubs, breaths, etc. much easier and quicker. For example, if I make a flub in mid-sentence, I will take a deep breath then pause several seconds before I start again. When I go back to edit the audio file, I can look at the waveforms and determine by sight exactly where I’ve made flubs (otherwise, I’d have to listen to the whole thing to find flubs, which takes much more time). I’m going to listen to the entire file after editing anyhow for a final check, but I’d rather listen to the entire thing once rather than twice!


This engineering experience has made me very popular with producers who have long-form narration clients, including work I voice outside of my own studio. The less time I make them spend in their studio cleaning up my reads, the lower their costs and the better their profit on the project. So every little thing I can do to speed things up while maintaining quality will be of enormous help in making the project profitable for my client. If I’m paid by the hour, in the short run it means I’ll make less money by being more efficient, but that’s okay – if I can help my clients’ bottom lines, they will call me back again and again. And they do!

AUTHOR: tomtest-wpadmin     CATEGORIES: Blog, Voice-over
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© Tom Test