Voicing To a Time Clock – Part 3 of 3 Character Timing and more
Tips to Cook Your Recipe Precisely to Time!
A Three-Part Series for New & Experienced Talent on Timing
Part 3 of 3 – Character Timing and more
Hopefully you were able to read part 1 & 2 of this article series on Voicing to a Time Clock. I also encourage you to check out my Debinar on voicing to time where I put all these tips and tricks to work and you can hear students take on timing techniques and applying them. Click here for a sample of my Timing Debinar.
Let’s talk about how timing affects animation and character work. If you are lucky enough to voice character work where the visuals are created after you voice, then timing isn’t such an issue. The director may need you to speed certain parts up or slow them down for directorial choices, but for the most part you can do it at your characters pace. However most of the work that comes to us that work from home as a voice talent is dubbing/looping. Meaning—much like narration dubbing, you have to match the visuals that are already set in place.
More than likely you will have to dub to a voice that was in another language. This can be a most daunting task, especially if you’re doing this on your own without an engineer, director, or client there to help you make things fit. It’s enough work to do dubbing in a studio where it’s all set up to be as easy as possible for you. The engineer hits the time codes and adds in beeps so you know exactly when to begin and end etc. The visuals are usually on a large screen in front of you and the words are usually put on the screen as well as on your script stand, so this helps to make the talent’s job easier to match for time, but when it’s a different language it is many times necessary to re-write copy or change ideas/choices to make things fit. Let’s face it: Japanese and English do not follow the same rhythm.
If you are working on your own, not only do you need to be the engineer, talent, and director at the same time, but the client isn’t there to help approve necessary script changes. So this can be a very time consuming as a result. You need the client’s permission before you can make significant changes. Much like with narration, I recommend you use an iphone/tablet or some kind of device in your studio booth, and put ear buds into your ears (or just one) and put your studio headphones over top. Then you can listen to the audio/visual of the project and your microphone at the same time. You may have to pause and rewind often. Also make sure the file is at a low enough volume so it doesn’t bleed through on your recording. With animation you are also adding sfx, reactions, and other things that are being seen. So not only do you have to match copy, but you truly have to pay attention to all visuals and know how to put in humanisms and those extra touches that show your expertise. Adjusting the characters choices (much like what I mentioned in the article on commercials) is a very effective way to make things fit. Make the character in a hurry, or have the character make dramatic pauses etc to show thought processes to slow down etc.
There are many programs out there that allow you more technology to accommodate animation/dubbing projects with ease. These are not usually free and can get costly. What I want to warn you about the most however are that dubbing is another job that is not being valued. Please make sure you charge for this service or at least get valued. For 2 – 3 minutes of dubbing, it may take you 1-3 hours. So this isn’t a job easily done from home without effective training/experience. If you need some help in this area I’m more than happy to offer my services to help you excel in this skillset. I am seeing a TON of dubbing these days, as many international languages are requiring their work to be translated into English, so this is a growing trend that will affect most of us going forward – it’s not a necessary skill, but one I would recommend you take seriously and know how to do it before taking on a job that requires it.
There are many other genres that require timing such as imaging and promo. Imaging is a bit more flexible for timing than promo. Imaging is voicing for radio stations (K-97 Rock) etc. With TV promo nearly all lines/promos are precisely to time. Some will include visuals to follow, while others will just require a time clock. The energy level you choose for the character will help you fit timing appropriately, but it also has to match the image the station is trying to project.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to timing. Many of the tips to succeed are similar but each genre requires different considerations and this only touches the surface on how to make it work.
I suggest you constantly work on different voice speeds. If you are a fast reader naturally, work on slower reads and if you are a slower speaker, work on mimicking personalities that are more energetic and faster talkers than you are, so that you’re able to accommodate fussy timing requirements. Nothing worse than losing a job because you just cant make it fit. If the client says make it fit and it sounds like crap – that’s their problem, not yours. It’s not the way we want to be represented, but we don’t own the project, so it’s only a direct reflection of their work, not as much ours.
If you need help with skills that will help you with timing, dubbing etc, don’t hesitate to reach out. I hope that this 3 part series article and my Debinar on timing and upcoming Debinar, “Dubbing Delectables” will help you accomplish your timing goals.
Until Next time
All my best
VO Chef Deb (aka Deb Munro)