Narration V/O advice?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Will Stich, May 27, 2004.

  1. Will Stich

    Will Stich Guest

    I'm having problems with my narration sound: the voice-over
    just doesn't sound "right". In the final production, the VO
    sounds distant and not punchy enough. We take care to use a
    good quality lav, and a Sennheiser ME 64 and place it right
    and get the levels right. But I realize the problem is in the
    final mix/sound edit.

    During the sound edit, someone told me to reduce all the freq's
    below 500Hz by about 6Db. This reduced the bass, but I need more
    info.

    We use either Adobe Audition, Acid 4.0, or SoundForge 7.0 to tweak
    the sound to get the narration just right. However my small indy team
    (all 3 of us) are strong in Camera/Editing but not... sound.

    Help! What are your recommendations,settings, tricks, to get that
    "forward" "presence" sounding narration sound you hear in TV
    documentaries?
     
    Will Stich, May 27, 2004
    #1
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  2. Possibly compression, normalization, etc. Complimentary EQ,
    dynamic mixing, etc.

    Hard to say exactly because it depends on so many factors that
    are clearly on the "art" side (as contrasted with "science").
     
    Richard Crowley, May 27, 2004
    #2
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  3. play with the EQ settings. Most times people first drop out the mids
    which makes the majority of the voice track sound flat. Remember
    that settings will be different for each speaker as the tones will be
    different. If you have a mixer, do it there... if not, do it in
    software. Record at the highest quality your soundcard and computer
    can process. Make a copy of the originals and tweak those. Always
    leave the masters alone. Once you get the EQ and tone settings right,
    make sure you save their presets. Nothings worse than closing out
    your software and losing the adjustments.
     
    Jack Slopehead, May 27, 2004
    #3
  4. Will Stich

    jdcarswell Guest

    I know you've said your mic placement is correct, but I don't understand
    why/how you are using a lav AND an ME64. Forget the lav for VO work. Make
    sure you're not picking up reflected audio from hard surfaces as that will
    give you a hollow sound - even with very close mic work.

    At least part of the problem could be that there's not enough separation
    between your VO and any music/ambient audio. Have you tried using the Wave
    Hammer filter in SF7? It acts as a compressor/limiter that works well for
    punching up dialogue to give it real presence. But don't pin the levels at
    peak with it, back it off so there's still some dynamic range.

    If it still sounds weak, drop the ambient or music bed down instead. Hard to
    say how much separation is necessary, as it depends on the kind of
    music/ambience and even type of production to some extent, but a good
    starting place would be a difference of -20dB. And it kind of goes without
    saying, but never use music with vocals under a VO (there - I said it anyway
    :eek:)
     
    jdcarswell, May 28, 2004
    #4
  5. Will Stich

    Bill Davis Guest

    The "recipe" for a tight VO sound has been around for a long time.

    A) a good performer. If your announcer doesn't have the chops and a good
    voice, nothing else will matter.

    B) a decent mic. VO work is usually the province of large diaphram mics.
    Modern Large diaphram condensers are the standard since they're more
    sensitive than dymanics, but zillons of VOs have been cut on
    large-diaphram dynamic mics, too. And some great voices (Ernie 'Love Boat"
    Anderson, comes to mind) prefered smaller diaphram shotguns, but excellent
    ones, NOT mics in the ME-64 class.)

    C) a DEAD recording space where echo and slapback from the walls is controlled.

    D) Compression. Most VO work is heavily compressed since dynamic range
    isn't necessary.

    Mix to taste.

    Good luck.
     
    Bill Davis, Jun 3, 2004
    #5
  6. Will Stich

    Steve King Guest

    As far as the performer goes, first, I look for someone who can bring an
    engaging point of view to the script with a personality that fits the
    audience. Sometimes that's a straight ahead, low key corporate story
    teller. But, if, when I'm auditioning, I believe that the narrator has an
    involvement with the subject, a human attachment of some kind, I'll pick
    someone who doesn't have the best voice in the stereotypical sense. For the
    most part, I think many narrators work too hard at telling the story, and in
    so doing, tend to draw attention to themselves. Instead, I want someone who
    will transport me into the script, in whatever quirky or straight way that
    works best. But, often time and budget is short, and we cast a solid and
    safe narrator that we know our clients will like. And, thank goodness,
    because a lot of producers in that position have called me over the years to
    narrate. Bless them :)

    Which brings up a question--- When a client is involved, in what way to you
    involve your client in casting, either on-camera or voice-over performers?
    Or do you? For myself, I try to never discuss it with my clients. I can
    remember only a couple instances, where my client made a suggestion or asked
    about who I might be considering. I figure that's what I get paid for, that
    is, making the right casting choices. I usually show pictures or tape of
    on-camera narrators/hosts and always if we're doing language versions. So
    far I've stayed out of trouble. How about you?

    Steve King
     
    Steve King, Jun 3, 2004
    #6
  7. Will Stich

    Bill Davis Guest

    Steve,

    My opinion is exactly the same as yours. I'll bring it up in a general way
    at client meetings before production begins, but I feel the same way you
    do. They're paying me to make the decisions that get the program done
    right.

    It's like a couple of times when I've had a client want to attend casting
    sessions for on-camera actors/models.

    On one or two occasions, I've suspected that they're more interested in
    meeting pretty girls (or guys) than in getting the job done. (Thankfully
    it's the exception rather than the rule!) So unless there's a valid
    reason, I tend to keep all casting decisions closely held. In fact, I let
    Linda do 90% of our casting. A) she's better at it. and B) I don't have to
    spend any time defending the choices to her or anyone else!

    With age does come SOME wisdom!
     
    Bill Davis, Jun 6, 2004
    #7
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