Voice-over advice requested

Video_flaneur wrote on 9/16/2020, 9:51 PM

I am about to embark on a number of short documentary videos. Initially they will be published to Vimeo and from there embedded on my website. At a later date some of these videos may also be posted on Youtube. Some will also be reworked as podcasts without video.

My current equipment is a Zoom H4N recorder which can function as either a stand-alone recorder or USB microphone. I also have VP18, Sound Forge Pro 12 plus Melodyne. I am prepared to consider additional hardware and software but it would need to be compact as at times I will be recording in hotel rooms while travelling.

I will be recording 3 main types of voice-over:

  1. Straightforward voice-over recorded after the visuals have been edited.
  2. 'Theatrical' readings from books etc. In these I may be invoking several characters so subtle software manipulations of my voice may be appropriate. These would be recorded first then the visuals edited to fit.
  3. Narration as though I am actually recording at the scene being depicted (even though it is recorded afterwards) combined with the ambient sounds from the video. This may for instance follow the camera from a busy street into an empty cathedral with appropriately manipulated audio. I never show my face so lip-syncing is not an issue.

I would appreciate any advice from you wonderful experienced gurus out there as to how you would go about this. For instance, for No.1 I would usually think of recording straight into VP using the multi-take option then tidying it in Soundforge. However the other two are not so straightforward and I am open to any advice on suggested ways to go about things.

Thank you in advance.


Clay-Zaccaglini wrote on 9/16/2020, 11:51 PM

I just posted something about the audio with a zoom H5 myself. Having challenges trying to record audio via USB while previewing a clip. I keep getting low memory errors. I read on the web that you can't record audio while previewing a clip, and that you have to use other apps like audicity, and then put the audio from that into your timeline. Sounds ridiculous if you have a high end machine like myself, and Vegas has required lots of tweaks whenever I do something. I hope we can both get some help from somebody that knows what to do.

fred-w wrote on 9/17/2020, 4:30 AM

Location ambiance. You want to record 'on scene' if you want to create that effect, OR record the location ambiance (at least a couple minutes worth) and mix that with a dry-recorded voice later. (no perceivable sound reflections). Hard to "fake" that later without, at the very least, the recorded location sound, or sound print (for convolution reverb, if you're that sophisticated, probably overkill). You will still need to add a reverb - to your dry recording - that sounds like the location space, indoor or outdoor, and blend that with your recorded ambiance.

Voice talent. MOST important, try not to "settle" - go for the best even if you have to pay. Must, of course, be the right "type" voice - IOW match the material.

Zoom mic.....Does that match/ enhance the vocal talent's vocal sound? If that isn't "good enough" you can rent the best for not too much money if you live in a big city. Neuman U87 a good, and commonly available choice for rental with a mic pre amp (or your sound mixer if it is up to the task).

Recording ambiance: Dry room or sound reflections you really want, because reflections will stay, you can't get rid of them later. Dry sound can be mixed into an artificial space later (reverb plug).

Portable mic booth (for dry recording)

RogerS wrote on 9/17/2020, 5:07 AM

I would record into the Zoom. You can use the built in mics but I'd just talk into left or right and throw out the other channel in post. They are pretty wide so you may get better results with a lav mic or one intended for studio recordings.

The Zoom stereo mics are good for recording ambience.

I use the H4n myself.

Phil_P wrote on 9/17/2020, 6:06 AM

Hi there, I do a lot of VO / Voice Acting and Narration work.

(Actually that and music production are my main sources of income).

Presuming you are going to do all the voicing yourself?

Certainly some plugins and so on can help you achieve a good result. But a decent sound editor and decent mic will also help.

So please feel free to PM me and I may be able to offer some help.

rraud wrote on 9/17/2020, 9:01 AM

Search the audio sections of DVINFO and DVXuser, much has been discussed there about the subject of VOs/narration, gear, and the other factors involved. (not to mention the importance of talent).


Howard-Vigorita wrote on 9/17/2020, 10:52 AM

Zoom's a pretty decent recorder but I wouldn't use it's built in mic for voice-overs. A nice dynamic and boom stand is what I'd recommend. SM58 will run you about $100 (us)... I have an old Unisphere with the on-off switch that is pretty similar and can still be found as a model 565sd for a little less. The one I like best for my own voice-overs is a Telefunken m80 which runs a bit more but doesn't break the bank. I've used Soundforge 7 for years but in the last few I've found it more convenient to do all the audio edits in Vegas... if you just keep your recording levels up (try keeping them no lower than -6 db) they'll sound better and you shouldn't need to do any outside editing. Btw, beware of depending on the limiter in the Zoom recorder... since it's implemented post-preamp, it keeps levels in the recorded file from exceeding -3db but does not prevent overload distortion in the mic preamp stage. This is usually more of a problem in location recording than voice-overs unless you're speaking style has a really wide dynamic range. If you're doing your Vegas road work on a laptop, you might consider using a Focurite Scarlett usb audio interface recording voice-overs directly into Vegas instead of into a zoom... it's mic pre's are way better.

Last changed by Howard-Vigorita on 9/17/2020, 11:13 AM, changed a total of 1 times.

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