4 Priorities For Your Voice Over Recording

When making a clean and crisp eLearning video, you have several choices for audio styles and recording setups. There isn’t always a right way or wrong way, but knowing how to record with clarity and precision is knowledge worth learning.

For our live-action video, we have two types of visual situations with audio that runs throughout. Whenever the camera is on our actress, we used a boom microphone to record her voice. However, several times throughout the video we cut to eLearning templates, icons representing awards, and other visuals. We had to make a choice about how we were going to record that audio. To help me make my decision, I came up with a list of priorities that I will list from most important to least important.

  1. Clarity. Our audience needs to be able to understand every word that is being said. There shouldn’t be any sort of audio distractions, especially when there is not much going on visually. When there is a lot to distract the eyes, it is likely that the ears will be distracted as well. If there is going to be background music, consider ways to make your audio stand out.
  2. Simple for the performer. Long lines or monologues are difficult to be memorized and performed, especially if they have to be recited exactly. Many people use teleprompters to help with long monologues. Others do what they can to break them up with lots of cuts and different shots. If you are recording audio only without a camera on your subject, they can read a script. The last thing you want to do is drop several paragraphs on your performer and tell them it has to be performed perfectly and in a short amount of time.
  3. Timing. Generally you want to produce your video as quickly and concisely as you can. No one likes it if you have to shut down the office for several days to shoot a two minute video. What’s more, your crew won’t like having to devote so much time to a project, especially if there is a faster way to do it. Planning thoroughly will help you decide how timing will play into your process.
  4. Similarity. If the voice over audio sounds different from the camera-recorded audio, you may be in trouble. Many times you can tell when a voice over was done in a recording booth as opposed to being recorded on site with the camera.

So with that list of priorities, I am now able to decide how I am going to record my audio. I chose not to record all of the voice over sections in the same room and with the same microphone as the rest of the video, but rather to record in a booth with a much nicer microphone and a more controlled environment.

My reasoning behind this is that I am going to be getting an immensely more clear sound in a booth with a table microphone than in a wide open break room on a boom microphone. It will be very simple for my actress to get her lines and monologues correct and precise when she can read them, and I can coach her on how it should be performed in real time. We can record several pages of dialogue in a short amount of time because she only has to worry about reading rather than memorizing lines, and she can fit that into her schedule much easier. Finally, the similarity factor may become an issue, but I know that a difference in sound is a sin that is often forgiven, and that is why it is lowest on my priorities list.

In the video below you’ll get a peek into our voice over recording session. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.

This blog is the seventh in a series documenting the production process in producing a company video for eLearning Brothers. The series will cover several items from pre-production, to production, to post-production. Click here to view the previous blog in the series (Slate, microphone, and lights).

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