With voice over tips for eLearning, there are several things you can do before, during, and after recording to sound more professional in your courses. Here are some simple voice over tips to think about as you begin and while you are recording your next project.
Always perform a soundcheck before you actually start recording your voiceovers. This vital step will allow you to adjust the input level of your microphone to avoid clipping. Clipping is a result of the input volume being too high and will result in the audio sounding distorted. Here is what clipping looks like:
The ideal range that you want the audio to look like would be something like this:
It’s better to be on the safe side when clipping. You can always increase your volume in the post-edit. Fixing distortion is difficult and usually not possible to fix by clipping. So doing a proper soundcheck prior to the recording will save you much potential grief. It is a good idea to test out the microphone input by saying some words with “plosives” and speak as loud as you think you will get when reading the script. The phrase “Sound check, one, two, three” is actually a good phrase to determine how to adjust your input volume because of the words “sound,” “check,” and “two.” These words provide a good indication of peak volumes that you will encounter while recording.
2. To Use or Not to Use Headphones?
Using headphones is more or less a preference when it comes to voiceover recording. To some it is a distraction; however, it can be helpful to use headphones while recording so you can hear what your voice sounds like as well as what surrounding sounds are being picked up by the microphone. It’s not a bad idea to record a few sentences as part of your soundcheck and then play it back into your headphones so you can be aware of these details. As with microphones, there are countless options when it comes to good studio headphones. Prices can range from over $1000 to around $50. I personally own a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs Precision Studiophones. These are quality headphones but affordable and will provide you with a flat, extended frequency response for an accurate mix of what the microphone picks up. If you’re interested in investigating higher quality headphones, this article is a good place to start
Being properly hydrated for your recording session can help your voice sound natural. Drinking clear liquids that are at room temperature can do wonders for your voice. Avoid milk products if at all possible. Milk is known to create excess mucus and can affect your vocal performance. Also avoid fruit juices, ice-cold soda, and coffee.
4. Methods of Recording
As you’re recording, be sure to speak in a natural but expressive voice. Articulate your words and script. Do everything possible to avoid monotony. This is what plagues so many voice over recordings. If you aren’t enthusiastic about the subject matter of your script, this will come across in the final edit. Enthusiasm is a good thing, but too much of it can come across as pretentious. Usually you can take one of two approaches while recording: 1) plow through or 2) record short sections. Either way there will be post editing needed. If you choose to plow through the script and record one long audio clip, when a mistake is made, be sure to start at the beginning of the sentence or at least at the beginning of the phrase and then repeat it. Editing becomes exceedingly difficult when you try to piece together sentences and phrases in the post edit. Advantages to recording in short sections (stopping the recording after each clip) are being able to organize the clips for post editing and only saving the good takes. However, this method can take more time because you will be constantly pressing stop and record. You can mesh these two approaches by recording a few paragraphs at a time.
5. Another Set of Ears
In a professional setting, voice talent will have a producer to make sure the script is read correctly and help keep things on track. If it is possible, having another set of ears can be extremely helpful. Even having someone else control the technical aspects of recording can allow you to focus on the vocal delivery. Having someone else in the room that has a copy of the script is helpful because they can let you know when mistakes are made that you might not notice. They could help push you a little more than if you were alone. Even if you aren’t able to have someone help out while you are recording, it’s a good idea to have someone else listen to what you’ve recorded to get a second opinion before you move onto the post editing.
These tips should help you during your next voice over recording. Learn more audio tips in the series:
- How to Record Voice Overs for eLearning (Part 1)
- How to do Voice Overs for eLearning – Post-Editing (Part 3)