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Observations, musings and rubbish from the mind of an IVO (International Voice Over)

May 15, 2019 7:36 am

Am I any good?




Well, am I?

I often ask myself, how do I actually know that all the scripts and words I voice for clients – from the likes of the BBC to Fred’s Fish Shop – make me a “good” voice-over?

In my 30+ years’ experience in this biz, rarely has any agency person, booking person or client contacted me post-session/recording to say they “really liked what I did”. Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong and I should always ask the agency, booker or client what they thought of my “performance”, which is something some voice-overs do when it comes to acquiring references, testimonials and so forth.

For me personally, that’s a little narcissistic, and goodness knows I can come across as that without having to ask an agent, booker or client what they think of me (insert rolling-eyes emoji here!).

However, and slightly more seriously (in this humorous blog), I often think I’ve done a “really nice job” of voicing a narrative, documentary, radio or TV commercial, e-learning module, on-hold message etc., especially when the text has been well written with room-to-move and maybe even an evocative backing track (I LOVE working with/to music!). But, more often than not, I really have no idea in the scheme of things if what I’ve voiced is “any good”.

The definition of the word “good” goes like this:

To be desired or approved of, having the required qualities; of a high standard, possessing or displaying moral virtue, giving pleasure…

So, if at least some of what I do is “good”, it would be nice to know I’ve been “approved of” and that my work has the “required qualities” is “of a high standard” and, bonus, that I display “moral virtue” and (wait for it) am able to “give pleasure”!

My personal opinion regarding what I do for a living (and this probably includes any number of people working, professionally, throughout the “world of the voice-over”), is that whilst the collective “we” often have to voice scripts which are, basically and, er, politely not very well written, every now and then, some text will land in the inbox – possibly accompanied by a fine piece of music or SFX – which, when I start to voice it, brings joy to my vocal chords as I read through the script, lovingly crafting the sounds, placing inflection, emphases, pauses, nuances and intonation where they have the most impact or subtlety as required, and then I send the finished audio off to the agency or client and then…

…well, nothing really – sometimes, not even a perfunctory “your audio has been received, thank you”!

Occasionally, I get asked to voice a re-take of part of the script because the client has left something out or made a mistake or they want to amend it. Often, they expect the “fix-up” for free.

Professionally speaking, if a client has made an error or needs an amendment, no matter how small, after the script has originally been voiced, they “should” pay another fee for the re-take/s. In this respect, I usually consider whether or not the client is a “good” client and one I might work with on an ongoing basis (regular work from a client in this business is King!), or if they’ve made a genuine and very small error, before I decide whether or not to charge, or not to charge, an appropriate re-voice fee.

Whatever happens, any changes have to be re-voiced in exactly the same style, using the same tone and at the same pace as the original go-take – which may’ve been voiced literally weeks or even months previously – and this is also part of the “am I any good?” question.

Either way, when the re-voice has been completed – fee or no fee – 9 times out of 10, there is, invariably, no feedback of any sort and nary a “thank you/good job” from the client (although sometimes, the agency, booker or studio might drop a “cheers” note).

At the end of the day, I still don’t know if I’m “any good”…