Monday, February 17, 2014

Voiceover With The Client In Mind: A Reflection

By Propulsion Media Labs Talent #20 Von C.

Photo Credit: PFLY CC-BY-SA
As a voice guy, if you have been doing this long enough, sometimes it’s hard to fight complacency… script after script, session after session. Then, once in a while you get a script and a chance to interact with the client and you remember what is at stake. Specifically, when you voice and or produce a radio commercial or a track for TV, internet or some other medium that we work on as voice people. I once in a while, actually more often than not, reflect on this as I go about my daily work. 

When I started in this business, some three plus decades ago, I was the dreaded client voice over. That’s what hooked me. I got a real charge out of being in front of the Neumann. This was all well and good, except as the client I was shaking in my boots hoping my advertising plan worked as the last dollar in my bank account was flying out the door toward a radio station’s coffers. About a week and a half my surprise radio worked, and I still ate.

I think sometimes, you have to step back and remember what it takes to put out dollars to get yourself enough work to pay the bills. If you never have, imagine the night sweats as the money flies around between agencies and production houses, researchers and time buyers just to get the kind of results you need to stock your refrigerator and pay a few bills. When I step back occasionally and reflect…I find myself loving this line of work more and more everyday…”they” say I’m a lucky one because I love my work as I do and have for over thirty years.

Maybe… “They”… are right.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Should scripts be in ALL CAPS?

By Propulsion Media Labs Talent #27 Alyson S.

Dear Clients,

Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC-BY
I know you don't mean to – but writing in ALL CAPS looks and sounds as if some of you are yelling at me and other Voice Artists. It's unintentional and apparently is what you learned in “Radio School” according to every copy writer that does it, but in fact it comes off as screaming at us. The copy is harder to read. The copywriter at that point says that he or she has VO people who in fact LIKE the ALL CAPS copy – but I have yet to meet any VO artist that does. I think it is a VO artist urban myth.
Please for the love of God and all that is good: STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS!
(See what I did right there? I wrote in caps for emphasis and it was also me pleading with you.)

Capital letters are harder to read then standard writing – like how I am writing here. Or in any book, magazine etc... It is not natural to read in all capital letters otherwise we would be reading and writing in all Caps all the time. It is harder to read. And Voice Over Artists read the copy off the page. We don't memorize copy. We read it off the page. So in fact you are making the copy more difficult for us to read, thereby causing undue stress, and then we can't put our attention onto making the copy filled with all of our magical nuances. We are unfortunately concentrating on not making a mistake while reading your ALL CAPS COPY. So in essence, it not only makes our job harder, it might take longer for us to do our job as well as get to the right 'emotion' in the copy because of screwing up reading it.

Needless to say, when you write something in CAPS, the person reading it tends to assume you are yelling at them or making a giant exclamation point. If the whole script is in caps, how will we discern where to place emphasis? I assume you do not want us to scream the copy at you.

So there it is. I take it upon myself for all the VO artists in the 21st century to tell copy writers that some things you learned in “Radio School” is a thing of the past. It's akin to watching a VHS tape. It is incredibly passe. And it is definitely one of my (and I will go as far to say many other VO people's) pet peeves. Most people prefer to read standard writing and not read everything in CAPS. Yes, most of us now have the capabilities to convert the formatting, but that takes an extra few minutes and as we know, time is money. So in order to make life easier on us VO artists, please DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS. ;)