When a microphone is placed in front of a person…one of two things happen.
One, the microphone captures the spirit of the person in audio – the nuance, the feeling and the sincerity of the words spoken.
OR it has a hypnotic effect on the person speaking, which leads them to believe they need to change their voice in order to sound good…this of course, is disastrous…100 percent of the time.
I have seen this phenomenon multiple times and also been victim to it. It is not to be taken lightly. And to be made aware of it, is a very precarious thing to negotiate. We are on high alert when we are under the microphone’s spell…very aware of what everyone around us is seeing and more importantly, hearing. So to be told you sound stiff, awkward and worst of all, fake…generally the response from the voice is defensive…very defensive. It’s like waking up someone in the middle of surgery…it really, really hurts.
That’s why, after many years of trying, i have decided to wait till someone has woken up before telling them my perception of their read. It’s much easier for the voice artist to hear the reality of a read when the passage of time has occurred…time to heal, time to step away from it. I am not saying direction in the session is wrong, far from it. But if you find yourself in a recording session with a voice artist who cannot act, cannot voice realistically, then this is beyond session advice. It’s time to wrap it up, sew up the chest and give them time to heal.
I remember about 15 years ago getting advice from my business partner on my read on a particular script i had done weeks before, and the advice was hard to take…i sounded ‘unnatural, sounded like i was talking to children, not giving my audience the respect it deserves with a natural tone’…he had replaced my voice with another voice artists. I took the advice and tried to changed my read…but i did not change my attitude. This of course, is the key…the attitude. I know it sounds like a cheap truism…but i can attest, that only after an attitude shift, can you change your actual read. It is impossible to read a script differently without realizing or believing how you should do it properly.
My partners advice lingered for a while like a dull pain, but like anything, the medication started to work very soon. It permeated my reads, my sound and my production. I started to take pride in who i am as a voice artist and as a producer. When i realized I didn’t have to change the voice i already had, but just needed to focus on my already existing strengths, a whole world opened up to me, and ones that weren’t my strengths suddenly seems small and unimportant – they were for other voice over artists to do, and had nothing to do with me. I was free to do well at what i do!
The difference between the most loathed locally voiced spots and the best loved nationally voiced spots is that national ones have taken advice and changed their attitudes and the local ones has not. (disclaimer – not EVERY local and not EVERY national – there are some great local spots out there and some terrible nationals).
I for one am glad to take advice on the realism of my personal reads, as now that i have taken the most drastic step of actually being aware of my strengths and weaknesses, any advice I do receive can no longer hurt me, it can only improve me, whether it’s great advice or not…because i have the anchor of knowing exactly what i can, and cannot do. Telling me to do a better monster truck read does not hurt…because i know i cannot do it in the first place…kind of like asking a roofer to replace your sink. I simply cannot do it…i am not equipped. And to KNOW that, is a great gift to have.