Image Description

Introduction to Voice-Over: Technical Requirements

This lesson is a part of an audio course Introduction to Voice-Over by Joe McNeil and Allison Moffett

Welcome to Lesson 3 “Technical Requirements”. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the technical side of voice-over.

It might seem strange to talk about technology in a voice-over course, but let me explain. Before the advent of digital recording and the Internet, voice-over was done in a recording studio. Voice talent would go to a studio where there was a recording engineer; the client or director would also come to the studio and supervise the recording session. A voice-over session was in-person and interactive.

Auditions for voice-over jobs were also completed in a studio. The casting director would set up a session and invite VO talent to come in and read for the job.

Digital recording techniques made audio recording less expensive and more accessible to the public at large and the Internet made it possible to deliver audio files quickly to someone across the country or across the world.

As a result, VO talent now is expected to audition from home and, for the most part, record actual voice-over jobs from home. There are still times when VO talent will go to a studio to work, but it’s not as often as you might think.

This is not a course on audio technology, but we want you to understand that there is equipment and there are certain technical skills you need to have to work in voice-over.

So, from a technical standpoint, there are five things you need. They are:

  • A computer that’s not more than 10 years old. Laptop or desktop will do. Mac or PC will both work.
  • A microphone and, possibly, an audio interface. There are USB microphones that plug straight into a computer. You can also buy an audio interface that connects to your computer via USB and then you plug a microphone into the audio interface.
  • A good pair of headphones. Google “Studio Headphones” and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Audio recording software. There are many to choose from and some of them are free.
  • A quiet place to record. Bathrooms and rooms with a lot of hard surfaces in them aren’t a good choice. They’re too live, meaning they cause the sound to bounce around. Small rooms with soft surfaces are much better. A walk-in closet is a great option.

And here’s what you need to be able to do:

  • Know how to operate your audio equipment. Things like setting up your audio interface and setting your microphone level.
  • You need to learn how to record using your audio software. You’ll also need to learn some basic audio editing skills.
  • You need to know the different audio files types and how to make an MP3 file.
  • Have an email account and know how to use it. Also, be comfortable using the Internet.

With the exception of that last point, I realize this may sound daunting but don’t let it discourage you. We’ve met plenty of people who thought they could never learn the technical skills they need to do voice-over, but they did. It takes some time and effort, but it can be done.

It’s important to understand that, while you don’t need to know any of this right now, you will be faced with the technical aspect of voice-over down the road. It’s unrealistic to enter the VO industry these days with the idea that you won’t need to be your own recording engineer, at least some of the time.

So now you’re aware of this part of the job. Before we move on, let’s recap.

  • Digital recording techniques and the Internet have changed the voice-over industry dramatically.
  • Most auditions and a large percentage of VO jobs are now recorded in talents’ home studios rather than in a professional recording studio.
  • You need a computer, certain audio equipment, audio recording software, and a quiet place to record.
  • You should be comfortable using email and the Internet.
  • Although it may sound intimidating, don’t let the technical aspect of voice-over discourage you. You can learn what you need to know as you progress.

Thanks for listening! In Lesson 4, you’ll learn some of the basic elements of VO and some techniques of voice-over artists.