There are lots of careers that we never really think about. Someone has to decide how many Tim Tams go in a packet. Someone else has to come up with new ideas for tea towel designs. And a select bunch of someones make money talking over videos. It’s a specialised skill, reading other people’s words without the usual actor’s benefit of being able to use your face and body to convey meaning. The voice-over artist has to get their message across using nothing but those vocal cords.
This week, Audience Productions had a few videos – for SALS, Moving Office and China Bear Removals & Storage – that all required the services of such a skilled artist. Fortunately, we had met the perfect guy back when we covered the Velvet Asylum a couple of months ago.
When we first spoke to Dav Byrne, we complimented him on his great voice and naturally Australian accent. When he said he also did voice-over work, we put that piece of information in the old memory bank.
Obviously his name popped into our head for this particular set of jobs, because we wanted someone tradies would trust. Not ocker, but more Aussie. The voice needed to be believable – if you put a really twee voice on there, the guys would go, “Get out of town. I’m not listening to this goose.” Use someone a bit blokey, and he sounds more trustworthy , like he might use the product himself.
We sent the scripts to Dav, as well as Antony Darvill, who does our sound recording work through his company, Audio Place. For this kind of job, we record ourselves reading through the script to give the talent a guide to what they should be emphasising, the cadence and how to pronounce certain words. Since the videos are only a couple of minutes long, you can’t go too hard on the feedback, so it’s better to let them know what you expect beforehand.
All of which leads to the new career you never considered. Do you have an amazing voice? Do people get entranced when you speak? Maybe you’d be perfect for voice-over work we have coming up in the future. (In the meantime, you can practise your skills on radio commercials, TV ads and those bits where they tell you what shows are going to be on tonight.)
Voice-over work is a skill. You can learn to do it, and it’s really hard when you start. It’s difficult, for example, to get emotion into certain things. We’ve tried reading a script a hundred times and won’t get the same gold as a professional like Dav.
Anyway, here’s our first tip for your Audience Productions audition: to sound like a happy, friendly person, smile while you talk. Just like we did while we wrote this?