Prepare for Recording Audio Voiceovers
Whether you’re recording audio-only or recording a video, good quality audio is paramount. Selecting the right equipment is important, but there is more to making a good audio recording. Get tips as well as a collection of pages on best practices in recording audio.
Before You Record
Pre-production is the most important part of any media production process, and planning well will save you a lot of trouble at the end.
- Write your script. The first step to write a script for your audio narration. Some feel more comfortable speaking extemporaneously, but an audio recording, there are good reasons for writing a script that you will read verbatim. Writing a script helps you create a more polished presentation and also helps you keep within your time limit. And if you read from a script, editing will be far easier. If you make a mistake while recording your voiceover, you can simply pause, read it again, and select the best segments for your final recording.
- Prepare your script for recording. Make your script easy to read: the font should be large enough so you don’t strain your eyes. Create wide margins. To make sure your voice is expressive while you read, add cues to your script. Mark words or sentences that should be emphasized, make notations about inflection and pacing, insert pauses.
- Rehearse. Read your script out loud and with expression. Experiment and work on volume, vocal variety, pacing, enunciation, and pauses. Read your script to someone, even if that person isn’t sitting right in front of you. Reading from a manuscript can flatten delivery, so rehearsal is key.
- The recording environment: Find a quiet space to record your narration. Be aware that that the human ear filters out sounds, while microphones pick up everything within range. Take a moment to listen for ambient sounds in the room: for example fans and humming, buzzing lights. You can’t eliminate ambient sound entirely, but you can minimize it. Turn off any phones and other devices that might disrupt your recording. Close doors and windows to block sounds from outside. If possible, record at a quiet time of day.
- Make your recording: Your goal should be a clean recording that requires minimal editing. Make sure your space is quiet, and that noises and people won’t interrupt.
While You Record
Once you’ve set up and are ready to go, keep these tips in mind:
- Watch your levels: Make sure your microphone is picking up the sound, and that you are recording at the right level. Don’t let your signal go into the red zone.
- Record a few seconds of silence. Keep in mind that your recording won’t truly be silent, and there will be some ambient noise. You might want to include a few seconds of silence here and there for effect, and your recorded “silence” will match the rest of the recording.
- Don’t ad-lib. Stick to your script, as it will be much easier to delete and insert words, sentences, and sections if needed.
- Sit up straight! You’ll sound much better.
- Mind your p’s and s’s, or pops and hisses. Smiling helps you avoid making those sounds.
- Listen to your recording through headphones. The sound quality is much better than typical laptop speakers, and you’ll catch errors and unwelcome noises.
- Ask someone else to listen. If time allows, share your recording and ask for feedback from others.
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