18 Replies
Anne Goldenberger

The only time we hired professionals was when we needed localized voiceover in multiple languages.  I did some of the voiceover myself early on, but soon got tired of my own voice (and in all honestly it is a bit of a monotone).

So, wanting to add voiceover to a lot of projects,  I posted a flyer in our kitchens around the building asking for folks who might want to audition.  I got several great responses, and the audition enabled me to judge both their voice quality and their efficiency.  Most of the people who auditioned are usually able to do a single slide's narration (10-90 seconds) in one take!  And, some of them have professional speaking experience.

We don't have to 'pay' them since they already work here, but we did give them gift cards as a token of our appreciation. 

It's been working great for us!

 

Richard Watson

Sheri,

I use voice over talent for the majority of my client projects. Although the rates can vary from one voice over person to another, as does quality, the prices I have been paying are very reasonable for what I'm receiving back.  

I have had some clients ask to use an internal employee for their voice over but that has been the exception to the rule for me.  In these cases, it almost always increases the workload on the designer's end. Many times when internal people do voice over work, I have found the quality (audio levels, noise in background, microphone bumps, pacing, pronunciation, etc.) lacking. I've also seen this get exponentially worse when something has to be re-recorded.  I'm sure this is not the case with every internal recording but it has been my experience working both as a freelancer and for years in a corporate setting. 

I understand that budget can sometimes be an issue when working with voice over talent but I've always incorporated that into estimates I provide for clients.

Hope this helps. 

Richard

Snehal .

Hi Sheri

 We have used professional voice-over talent for most of the projects. The differentiating factors are off course the quality of narration, voice modulations, pronunciations and required ascent. For many big clients, we provided the script and client got the recording done at their end. In few cases, we recorded narration in-house for small, local projects where budget is a constraint and ascent is not. This (in-house or professional) is agreed with clients before starting a project and generally is a client’s decision. 

John Nixdorf

We try to avoid narration entirely. Adds too much overhead (time) to the project development.

IF we have narration, we do it ourselves.

  • Cheaper, the increment of "better" we gain with a pro is not commensurate with the cost in both money and time.
  • Easier to make the inevitable "tweaks" the SMEs and management can't resist demanding after the narration is complete (you know I'm right, the project isn't real to them until it's "finished," then they have changes they absolutely demand be made)
  • Easier to make updates to materials several years on (provided you're still here) instead of having to track down a narrator who by that time could be anywhere in the world.
Bryan Tregunna

John has some good points. The key point is that the audio must help the learner and not distract them. A good voice is vital with the right intonation and this is why professional voice over artists can add value. The learner focuses on what is being said. If you have someone in your team that can do this then use them!

A monotonous voice, strong accent or mispronunciation of key elements distract the learner and reduces the value of the course. If you have someone in your team that does this, don't use them!

And this equally applies to the quality of the recording and background noise.

Bobby Carlton

Hi Sheri,

It really depends on your project budget.  Some of our departments need the information in multiple languages.  So in that case, we hire a professional company to come in to record narration.  But as you know, that can kill a budget pretty quickly.  

But if you have a small budget, or no budget at all, I would suggest using the software that's prebuilt into most computers to record the parts yourself.   As for the hardware (mics, cables recording inputs), you can find all of that online and it's inexpensive compared to buying studio time or hiring a company.  It's an investment, but if you continue to record narration for courses, eventually the investment will pay for itself.

One thing I would recommend to help give your course narration a little extra oomph, is reaching out to your local college that has a theater department and see if any of the students would be interested in recording the parts for you.  In many cases, we've found students are incredibly eager to have that type of work on their resumes, and it'll only cost you a pizza and some soda.

David Jordan

Bobby made a great suggestion about reaching out to local campuses. I had not considered that and will be looking into it. 

I've been doing my own voice overs for a long time now, and when i look back at my earlier work, i realize that i shouldn't have. There is a skill to it, and while i have learned it, my earlier projects suffered for that learning process. 

Having the skills needed to edit audio can help a lot. You can edit out most background noise, and tweak the narrator's sound if they arent that great. My ability to edit is the only reason i was able to get by with my own narrations early on. 

I still do my own audio, my skills have become ... acceptable :) However, i really like the college suggestion. It could be great option to get cheap to free talented work. 

Deb Elliott

As I'm an experienced stand-up trainer, I do my own audio narration. However, we're going to be hiring a consulting group to help with development when the workload gets overwhelming on a IT project. They have an arrangement with a local university's theater department and hire students to do the narration. It looks good on their resumes, and their rates are much lower than professionals'. $15 per hour or so.

John L.

When I was an independent contractor, I always used professional talent. Voice-overs are a very real talent, unappreciated until you realize how many audio-, voice-quality, and editing issues you avoid by using a pro!  Clients had to sign off on the script before it was recorded, so if there were changes, they knew they would be responsible for the extra cost (I often recorded alternates if I had a second-sense about something!)

In my current, in-house/staff situation, we don't (usually) have budget for outside talent. (We're also a public agency, so we can't use outside "free-bees" or financial work-arounds - too many ethical/legal issues.)  We do have an annual purchase budget however, so over time we have acquired an isolation booth, quality mic & cables and pro editing software. I also have a theatre as well as tech background and many years producing audio, so I usually now do my own narrations.  I have pulled-in other employees as volunteers for 2nd voice or short pieces, etc.

My best advice for working with non-pros, is (in session) to listen carefully for diction, tell them it's OK to speak slowly, watch out for a tendency to get lower in volume towards the end of long sentences/phrases, have water available and encourage the them to drink it, when in doubt, do retakes/alternates, and take breaks to relieve tension and keep energy up.

Sean Herriott

Hi Sheri,

I'm a professional voice talent and longtime radio host, and one thing to consider about hiring voice over artists is the amount of time you'll save in editing as well as recording. It's pretty standard for freelance voice artists to do any necessary editing, balance sound levels, add audio processing, and do anything else needed for you to use the audio without any further editing. If a client wants one sound file or a hundred, it really doesn't have a huge impact on the price.

Someone like me can finish a project in two hours that would take a non-professional a couple of days--and even then, there might be major issues with the final product. One of the things I do is fixing audio that was badly recorded, which takes longer than having a professional record it in the first place (and somethings, like audio that is distorted because the recording level was too high, simply can't be fixed).

I think there are times when it can make sense to do it yourself or use some of the creative options other posters have suggested, but sometimes you're better off using a professional. Bad audio can kill an otherwise good project.

Check out Voices.com, which allows potential clients to post their jobs for free and listen to custom auditions.

Helen Bowden

We are a multi lingual and multi media voice over company based in South West Wales. We have no studio hire and are very competitive on rates as we are based outside of London.

Our services include voice overs, subtitles and transcription. What’s more, we offer all services in over 200 languages which makes us a great option for content creators who want to take their content to new international territories.  

 

We are a subsidiary company or Wolfestone Translations.