Most of The Eureka Room’s voiceovers have been done by me.
This is partly due to budget constraints and partly because I know I’ll need to edit the programs in a way that will require constant re-voicing and I don’t want to ask the talent redo the work every time I have made yet another change.
I’ve never done any voicework before and it’s surprising to me how many ways you can say even a mere few words in a way that doesn’t fit the work.
I’m constantly doing takes and retakes. Each word can have infinite inflections and project endless levels and types of emotion. One way is funny, one is confused, one is stern, one is bored, one is frustrated.
I’m not talking about me trying to get those different emotions. That’s the range I get just trying to record the same thing each time. It can be incredibly hard to land the voiceover the way you want it to land. The smallest change of tone or volume or pacing can send the message in a completely different direction.
Sometimes, though, I’ll get a great one that just hits it on the head and communicates the perfect tone and it sounds so effortless. This is incredibly satisfying. Beyond anything I would have imagined before I began doing voiceovers.
It makes me wonder what I sound like in real life to people. How often am I not hitting the tone I would like to hit and I’m being interpreted in a way that was not my intention.
I knew this happened of course. We all know the effect of tone and how sometimes our tone is not what we wanted. But I had no idea the range was so immense and varied and filled with so much nuance.
Sidenote: I’ve read a couple books by Zig Ziglar, the American sales guru, recently. He insists that salespeople practice their pitches often with a tape recorder. It was one of his key tools for improving craft and garnering more sales. He talks about persuasiveness through vocal nuance and it reminded me of my experiences with voiceover work.