Voicing To a Time Clock – Part 2 Dubbing & Narrations
Tips to Cook Your Recipe Precisely to Time!
A Three-Part Series for New & Experienced Talent on Timing
Part 2 of 3 – Dubbing/Narrations
If you missed Part 1 of Timing Copy you can read it by clicking here. Timing is in everything we do as talent. It is very rare that a genre of voice is not specified to time. I’ve already covered a bit on commercials, so let’s now discuss how narration is affected by time and tips you need to help you offer precise timing for your clients.
In Part 1 I discussed your natural timing speed. Most of us have a timing speed between 140-180 words per minute (this is just a loose guideline). You can use this to calculate how long you think the finished minutes are projected to be for a potential project. Know the word count and divide that number by your finished minute number. That will equal the finished minutes. For example: word count is 12,000 divided by my word rate of 160 = 75 finished minutes – If I divide that by 60 Minutes (which is an hour) my finished time is 1 hour and 15 minutes. So now I know what to base my rate on.
It would seem that narration isn’t affected as much by timing, but it is. Many narrations have a set time limit before it’s given to the talent. This time limit is usually easy enough to follow much the same as the commercial. For narration it will be 90 seconds or over, so to find the right speaking speed for the project, that might take you reading it all out to the time clock, the same way you would read a commercial. That is great, as long as it’s not very long. There is nothing more time consuming than recording it all and editing, only to find out it’s all too long/short. It’s not like you can just re-voice a sentence or two to make up for the missing or added time needed. Usually it will mean re-voicing the entire project, so it’s super important that you figure out the necessary character speed first. Are they going to be a faster talker, slower, medium speed etc. I use my hand to guide me like an orchestra because otherwise my regular speed eventually takes over at some point. So my hands guide the beat (so to speak). I try hard not to sound monotonous doing this, but I do need the character to speak at a certain tempo. In fact when I have to do projects for people/kids learning English, it’s very painstaking to voice it all super slow – as I’m a fast talker with a busy mind. So I have to focus hard on making sure the timing of the character doesn’t change.
It happens often that I get the visuals from the client for a narration and I have to match the timing of not only the entire project, but each line. This will help drive the visuals, so it’s important that I watch the visuals at the same time that I voice. Here is a quick version of dubbing. If there is already a voice guide over the visuals, I will put the video on through my cell phone with earbuds and have the volume very quiet (as the sound will bleed through my recording) and mimic the pacing of the previous reader (whether in English or other). I will do this line or section at a time so this becomes a ton of editing when I’m done. There are tons of advanced techniques to dubbing, but that would take more than an article to explain them, so if you are needing advanced techniques, don’t hesitate to reach out and I will do my best to help you with that.
No matter what the timing project is when you have something visual to follow, it’s very important you watch it and voice at the same time. If you find the sound is bleeding through on your recording, play a sentence, then stop it, and voice the sentence as close as you can to the same rhythm of timing and hope that when you go to the editing room, it will match. There are softwares/programs and hardware you can purchase to make this easier of course, but that all takes time to learn it and money to purchase, but I’m sure there are some great things out there for us talent.
In an ideal world the client will give you the script, you will voice it at a comfortable speed based on the client’s character traits required, and then they will match the visuals to your VO work, but it is more common these days that we are voicing to something already produced.
If the project is voiced in another language this isn’t always easy. I will cover more on this in Part 3 of Voicing To Time as I discuss animation/anime/video games and other genres in VO.
Please don’t hesitate to reach me for any questions or comments.
Until Next time
All my best
VO Chef Deb (aka Deb Munro)