Never again will I suggest that doing voiceovers seems like an easy job.
It really isn’t. I can vouch for this, as I spent today recording a couple of chapters of my first DCI Dani Bevan book for audio. The assembly of the equipment was tricky enough. That took me three whole days. Then there was the consideration of the optimum acoustics in the room where my recording will take place. Following this, I had to familiarise myself with the techniques of the voice artist; because this entire process is very much an art form in itself, for which those performing the job before me have trained long and hard.
In my naivety (or arrogance) I jumped into the project with both feet, no doubt imagining, ‘well, how hard could it possibly be’? The answer is pretty damn hard. You need to deliver 10 to 15mins of text with appropriate projection, energy and intonation and without making a single verbal stumble or hesitation. Of course I made many such mistakes, leading me to return to the start several times. It’s frustrating and not to mention physically uncomfortable (any movements or fidgets are picked up by the mic).
As an ex-teacher I am used to public speaking and reading out loud to an audience. I’ve also done some singing in my time too. But in each of these cases, there is room for imperfection. A wrong word can be ignored and brushed over, these small errors becoming part of the natural ebbs and flows of live performance, even viewed as a clever ‘ad-lib’, perhaps. A recorded narration, however, needs to be completely faultless and slavishly follow the script.
For some reason, I’d never really appreciated this fact before. Actors have to get it absolutely spot on during a take and when the cameras and microphones start recording, believe me, you certainly feel the pressure.
I expect as the project goes on I will get better at it. I hope so, otherwise it’s going to take an extremely long time to finish! I’m trying to put as much life into the reading as possible, varying my accents and speech patterns when necessary. I suppose as the author-narrator I have the advantage of knowing the book inside and out. I appreciate every character’s back story and motivation. Perhaps this will make me a better voice artist in the end.
For now, I remain a novice of the art. One who will never again entertain the thought that voiceovers and narration are an easy way to earn a crust. It certainly is not and knowing that many viewers and listeners imagine it is must make the job doubly tough.