Voiceover Directing at Sugar Pod Productions
As a voiceover director you are the 'creative glue' that binds the writers, producers, actors, recording engineers and clients together, and must make sure you have a clear handle on the creative vision of all involved. Everyone has ideas, and the director's role is to make sure that the final vision is the best possible one, while bringing their own skills into the mix as well.
The voiceover director could be directing anything from commercials, computer games, audio books, corporate videos, children's TV programmes, spoof comedy podcasts & radio comedy series, to animaitons in several different languages and actors voicereels.
A voiceover director has a myriad responsibilities. They include, but are not limited to: The breaking down of the script by character, by scenes, beats within each scene and determining the flow of the voice actor’s performance as well as the correct edit and cut. The director will have met with the producers and writers to fine-tune the tone of the project as well as the personalities and attitudes of each of the characters.
I find it it essential to have good relationship with actors, so that you can use that connection to pull a perfect performance from them. The actor needs to trust their director, and be reassured that they are all in this together, and the director will lead them to that perfect scene – no matter how many times it’s performed.
Sometimes the recording session will be sound-to-picture (the actor can see the visuals in the booth) but a lot of the time it's just me and the voice over artist and engineer, visualising the audience and the product and trying to get the perfect voice over.
I like the sessions I voice direct to be relaxed and fun, whether I am freelancing as a voice director for a commercial, or working on a radio comedy at our studio at Sugar Pod Productions. I am also an agent, but find that my voice directing role often overlaps with casting, as producers ask me to sit in on casting sessions and help direct auditions.
Actors often have great ideas that the writers and producers never intended to be in the script, and it's good to recognise when a small script or change or improvisation will transform a character for the better.
It's about getting the best possible end product and feel – you have to constantly think of your audience. Whether it's a voice over for an animation series, a documentary for Discovery, a continuity link for Dave, or a commercial for a bank, the audience has different expectations and feelings. And the client wants to convey a certain image or lifestyle that relates to it's target audience.
Commercial voice over work is often very naturalistic, and underplayed – and not as easy as it seems. It's subliminal and you often don't notice anyone is trying to sell you anything – unless there is a mistake and it sounds wrong – then it's the voice directors role to correct it.
It's very difficult for a voice over artist to direct him/herself. A voice director is a great help on a practical level in their communication with the actor in the recording studio. Often the actor will not have the visuals in front of them.
So many of the things I do is to gently guide actors on a practical level, enabling the actor to set the pace, timing, and rythym of the project. If an actor suddenly looses energy in a piece, the piece sounds flat..or the tag line inflection is wrong, or they don't smile enough....and it's very easy to trip up on these things when in a recording session without direction.
Helping the actor visualize the scene, whether it is magical i.e. a car going up into the mountains for a car commercial, or a roast chicken in a supermarket ad, is key.
From a producer's point of view...
'A good voice director should be inspirational. We've worked with Kerry Corran on radio comedy projects. Her voice coaching is deft and calm and she coaxes that extra something special from our talent. She is an ally in the studio and we at Sweetchuck Productions adore working with her. ' – Craig Green, Sweetchuck Productions
From a voice over artist's point of view....
'As a voice over artist clear direction is an essential part of a session, as it can take the client to hear different takes to hear what they are looking for. Having a director with you can help draw that extra from you – if you've run out of ideas or need to apply a different energy or tone. Kerry at Sugar Pod has that insight from the client to steer you towards the perfect take and when you work with someone you know, who knows your ability, they can channel it through to you in a language you understand and also make sure they are putting you up for the right kind of job' – Natalie B, DJ on Heart Counties & Continuity voice over
'A good voice over director should allow you to bring your own vision to the table, but also be able to communicate what the client wants at the end of the day. Without having a voice director at auditions, or a recording job things can easily fall apart' – Sean Power, actor & voice over, Lead Balloon