Tips for Using a Voice-Over in Your Video

By Jeff Pelletier March 12, 2013 Video Production
Jeff Pelletier

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff is the co-founder and CEO of Basetwo Media, a video production agency in Vancouver that helps businesses get results with video.

how to use a voice-over

Using a voice-over as narration in a video is a great way to quickly communicate a message. It's much more cost effective than casting, hiring and filming a professional spokesperson, and can more easily be updated or replaced in the future. Narration can also help to bridge any gaps left in a story after filming interviews.

It is typically also the best approach when creating a video in multiple languages, since a voice-over can be recorded and on-screen text replaced, instead of making the foreign-language versions feel like an afterthought trying to dub-over what an actor is saying.

There are still a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the right results and to avoid delays and costs overruns.

The Process

Recording a Scratch Voice-Over Track

We will never consider a script finalized until the video has been completed so that it can be read alongside it. There are often small 'tweaks' needed to help with timing or the wording of some phrases.

By recording a temporary 'scratch' voice-over to be used throughout the editing process, the script can then be modified as needed without incurring additional costs, before being recorded as the final step in the process.

Timing Your Script

When writing a script for a video, shorter is typically always better. The challenge we sometimes face when working with a script that has been provided by a client is that, when read by a professional voice-over person at a proper pace and with natural pauses, the recording can be much longer than originally intended.

So remember to always read a script out loud when timing it and not just in your head!

Choosing the Right Voice

The first thing to consider is the tone your video, and therefore your voice-over, should take and how you're hoping to engage with your audience. Are you discussing technical information that should be presented with a level of authority and professionalism, or would you like to keep it less formal, like a 'friendly neighbour'?

Consider if a female or male voice might be more appropriate and whether there is a certain age and level of experience we'd like to imply. In some industries this can be very important, especially if positioning the narrator as an authority on a topic is important.

Most professional voice-over talent can change their 'read' to suit the needs of a particular project, so if a sample provided sounds too 'sales-y' but you like the tone of their voice, direction can be given to the actor in advance of recording.

Our Roster of Professional Voice-Over Talent

We work with an agency for the majority of our projects who maintain a large roster of professional voice-over talent. These artists all work out of their home recording studios, providing auditions and recordings remotely.

This has proven to be a very efficient and cost-effective approach, saving time and money in avoiding lengthy casting and in-person recording sessions.

We do also have a sound recording booth in our production studio that can be used in case you would prefer to use a staff member as the narrator in order to further save on costs or for additional 'authenticity'.

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