Introduction: How to Record a Voiceover
Voiceovers play a crucial role in enhancing the impact and effectiveness of promotional videos. A well-executed voiceover can captivate your audience, convey your message clearly, and create a lasting impression. In this week’s “Media Monday”, we'll walk you through the process of recording a professional voiceover for your promotional video. Follow the steps given below to know how to record a voiceover for your promotional video:
Step 1: Prep Your Script
When preparing a script for a voiceover it’s important to remember that we write a lot differently than we talk. Imagine if you were to address somebody in public the same way you addressed them in an email greeting or explained something the same way you wrote it in an essay. It would sound a bit odd, wouldn’t it? That’s why when you’re preparing a script for a voiceover you should try to “write like you talk.”
A way I manage this is to write what I’m thinking and then read it out loud. If I find certain sections difficult to read aloud with consistency then I rewrite that section or sentence to better fit the flow you want to achieve.
Remember: It’s important to read it more than once because most of the time it takes us a moment to process something that we are reading aloud.
Step 2: Mic Check, 1, 2.
While putting together a decent microphone setup may seem difficult, with the widespread availability and affordability of USB condenser microphones such as the Blue Yeti and Snowball (both of which are sold under the Logitech G brand now) it is increasingly easy to achieve studio level quality in the comfort of your home. However, a good microphone doesn’t ensure quality audio, there are a few practices that you should follow when recording:
Be Careful of Plosives
Plosives, most specifically, “Pa,” “Ba,” and “Fa” sounds, can cause unwanted wind or popping sounds on the recording due to the air released when saying these words. The most popular way to minimize plosives is the use of a “pop filter” which is essentially just nylon stretched over a ring plastic ring placed in front of the microphone. However, a more affordable solution is simply increasing the distance between you and the mic.
Check Polar Patterns
Polar patterns are a visual representation of the directionality of the mic. The most popular being “cardioid” which captures audio in front of the mic, but not behind. The Blue Yeti allows you to select your polar pattern which are shown in the above image. This is especially useful to mitigate background noise such as footsteps and other household noises.
Unless it is a desired effect, you want to avoid room echo as much as you can. A long term solution is acoustic panels that you can buy or make yourself to dampen the echo in the room. However, if you need a quick solution you can try draping a few towels or blankets over yourself and the microphone, it may look a bit funny, but as long as you don’t move too much most of the echo and reverb will be completely dampened.
Don’t Crank The Gain!
Image Source: Sarah Kobos
If you’ve watched old Call of Duty clips on YouTube you’re no stranger to clipping, which is when audio is distorted due to it being amplified past its upper limit. Your gain on your hardware (physical gain knob on mic or audio interface) and/or in your recording software should NEVER be maxed out, with gain a little goes a long way. Generally you want to keep your audio around -12db or in the green on the audio meter. If it goes into the red, then you are clipping and the audio may be unusable.
Step 3: Software - Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Recording a simple narration can be done in basically any DAW, however the most readily available (and free) software is Audacity. When you open Audacity you will be greeted with a new empty project, but before you’ll hit record you’ll need to do a few things.
1) At the top of the page select Edit> Preferences
2) It should bring you to the “Audio Settings” tab by default. In this menu there should be a section that says “Recording” which has two dropdown menus.
3) Select your recording device from the “Device” dropdown menu, if it is not showing up double check your microphone and/or audio interface is recognized by windows and all proper drivers are installed.
4) Once you select your device click “OK.”
Now you are ready to record!
Remember: Check your levels when recording to ensure you aren’t clipping!
Step 4: Recording Techniques
Here are a few more recording techniques to follow before you start:
As we mentioned before, you should position yourself about 6-8 inches away from the microphone, not just to mitigate plosives, but to achieve a balanced and clear recording.
Warm up your voice by doing vocal exercises or speaking exercises before recording.
Maintain a consistent distance and angle to the microphone throughout the recording session.
Record multiple takes of each script segment to ensure you have options during the editing process
Pause and take breaks in between to minimize vocal fatigue and maximize the consistency of your narration
Step 5: Adding to the Promotional Video
After completing the recording, ensure optimal quality by saving the audio file in a lossless format like WAV or AIFF. Next, import the audio file into your preferred video editing software or a dedicated audio editing software for further refinement. Trim any unwanted gaps, mistakes, or background noise from the recording to maintain a polished result. Achieve a balanced audio mix by adjusting the volume levels, ensuring the voiceover works with the video's soundtrack. To enhance the overall quality, consider applying effects like compression or equalization. Finally, preview the video with the voiceover to ensure synchronization and coherence between the audio and visuals, guaranteeing a seamless and impactful promotional video.
Recording a voiceover for your promotional video may seem daunting at first, but with the right equipment, setup, and techniques, you can achieve professional results. Remember to invest time in script preparation, ensure a quiet recording environment, and leverage the capabilities of audio editing software to fine-tune your voiceover. With practice and attention to detail, you'll create compelling voice overs that bring your promotional videos to life.