VOICE OVER AUDITIONS FOR TV COMMERCIALS - NARRATOR'S CONTEXT

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Shared May 19, 2012

http://danoday.com/Nancy-Wolfson-VO-DVD Voice over coach, voiceover teacher Nancy Wolfson with tips to help voice actors win more TV commercial auditions, demonstrated with copy from Secret deodorant.

When you auditioning for a voice over job, give yourself permission to do it twice. The first probably will have some problems, this gives yourself permission to make some mistakes on your first one so that the second one is the one you feel is going to be examined.

This is a spot for Secret deodorant. A large proportion of the people with whom I work, I coach over the phone. I'll say, "Okay, which spot do you have up next?" And they'll say, "SFX dog barking in background...: -- No, no no. That's not how you want to talk to a producer on the phone. You want to say, "Oh, it's the spot for Ford" or "it's the Secret spot."

And if it takes you an extra 10 seconds to grab your pencil and plunge into wherever the product name is mentioned, it's worth taking that extra moment. You want to refer the piece of copy by the name of the product, not by the sound effect, not by "Oh, it's GSD&M" —that's the ad agency.

"Oh, VoiceBank." That's the pipeline through which it was sent to the agent.

So, go ahead and give it a shot. If it helps you to hold up your copy at eye level, then go ahead and do that.

I want you snuggled in on that microphone. Bend your knees. One foot in front of the other. Get a stance that sort of allows you to grab the ground. Hold the copy at eye level.

What needs to see your copy? Your eyes.

What needs to be heard in the microphone? Your mouth.

So except for the ones that have a little clip on them, the copy stands are always set up in inverse dynamic to how your eyes and mouth are positioned on your face. If you leave the copy on the copy stand, the microphone is going to be trying to hear things from your forehead; it's upside down.

If you get the copy off the copy stand and you put the script at eye level and then you can get your mouth at mic level, you can see better and the microphone can hear you better. It's just better engineering.

When I pulled up someone with whom I'd never worked before, I was hoping I'd get someone who would make the mistake most people make. Most people would do that spot a little too loudly.

The reason I like you snuggled in on that microphone is because of the context you're hoping to fit into as perfectly as you can. In a commercial for television, they call it "voice over." I wish they called it "voice under," because your sense of your context would be more immediately accurate.

If you've ever done any editing, it feels that the VO is snapped in underneath and apart from the images it's referencing. So when people get on their first performance and they recognize it's a TV spot and they get too loud and barky, perhaps their acting is great but their mechanics might be way off. The emotions are all fine, but the mechanics aren't. If any part of your audition isn't working, they can't hire you. They go to the next person.

1. Correct emotions
2. Collusive sarcasm
3. Reassurance
4. Introduction of Product Name
5. Sarcastic at the end

But if it's too loud, it doesn't fit.

Yours fit on both levels. The emotional colors were useful, and the compression and collusion you had were useful.

As the person who is underneath and apart from video, I'll give you a hundred different names...but not the one they give you. What name do they give you? They call you the "announcer." And then they tell you not to be announcer-y.

You're the narrator.

You're the person who's making reference to the story.

You're the "voice under."

Or you're the conscience of the spot.

Who are you? You're any of those things. If you can give it those kinds of names, it'll be a lot easier to remember to sort of snuggle in and refer to.

You're making reference to the story as the story unfurls above you. The story exposition is taken care of by people who are on-camera, and you're the narrator who's making reference to that story exposition.

Four times out of five, I want you shading off some amount of your volume. Not being at absolute total projection volume. If you use full-throttle volume on a TV spot, the spot's going to sound tacky. The spot's going to sound "small market regional." Or it'll sound like a couple of the major market spots that are okay with the narrator being loud and bombastic and bursting through the third wall where they don't belong.

Things start to sound so tacky when the VO underneath the visuals is loud to the point where it interferes with the story.

So one thing about context is to know when you're a Referencer and to compromise some of your volume and not obscure the story but instead frame the story.

When you're the narrator on a TV spot, you want to inform and manipulate the audience's conscience's takeaway of what's happening above you while you talk.

Who are you? You're the narrator. You're the conscience of the spot.