The 3 common types of recording voice for film are
Automatic Dialogue Replacement, the Foreign Language Dub, and the
Voice Over. Each of these deals with the human voice in relation to
visual content, but each from a different perspective - and with different
Automatic Dialogue Replacement or ADR requires a lip
sync to the visual, a recreation of the original emotional state,
and the original actors of the production dialogue track. It solves
the problem of noise, balance, and clarity that might not have been
optimum during the shoot. It creates a separate audio
track for the final dub.
The Foreign Language dub is a compromise at best:
actual lip sync is impossible, the recreation of the original emotional
state is difficult, and the voice characteristics should
be similar to the original production cast. It replaces the original
language dialogue for localization - while it provides for international
distribution, it is problematic to translate all of the
cultural nuances from the original production (it loses something
in the translation).
The Voice Over does not require lip sync to an on
screen character - but it must convey the emotional state required
by the visuals in any event. To my mind, it requires a little more
acting from the voice talent. Also, it requires careful
attention to pace and timing by both the voice talent,
the script writer, and animator or film maker - with the recognition
that the placement against the visual has a subjective
element to it.
Understanding the Content:
The content - instructional, narrative, commentary,
etc. - is the primary element in starting. It must be broken down
into component parts to plan both the script and the visuals. Each
element of content must be identified to plan out the corresponding
visual and script prerequisites.
The film idiom doesnt allow page flipping
- it is not a written document but rather strictly linear in presentation.
The content must be realized completely in real time with
a sense of forward motion toward comprehension or realization.
Web material with the ability to link is more forgiving but this same
concept still applies to planning individual links and overall linking
Any visual - animation or film/video - with an intended
V.O. has a unique problem - how to pace the visual and the voice over
script to provide a comfortable and natural environment for the content.
Starting with either the visual or the script, it
is a real necessity to plan out a complete coverage of the requirements
demanded by the content. Here, the storyboard works to plan the key
elements and develop the pace and timing to provide that comfortable
and natural environment.
It also can expose weak or unaddressed content requirements
that might demand additions or deletions to visual or script. It provides
a preview of how well the two are working together in transmitting
the content - with an emphasis on "together". This is also
the point that a decision to include or exclude music should be made
- is it necessary and desirable or will it interfere or intrude.
Getting this element of the production process right
can save much time and money - alleviating the necessity of adding
or cutting footage or frames to adjust the pace and timing between
the visual and the voice over - or the omission of key content elements.
The dialogue should be just that, a dialogue - not
a dry recitation of the written word. Two factors here are the actual
construction of the script and the voice talent - both
working together must create a feeling of ease and comfort with the
Care must be given to script construction so that
only the necessary elements to compliment the visuals are included.
As both work together, the script writer must consider the order and
pacing of the visuals just as the film maker or animator must consider
the order and pacing of the script.
Again, the story board is the environment required
for planning. The final sum product of sight and sound must be whole
and avoid the pitfalls of redundancy or incompleteness.
The biggest criterion for choosing V.O. talent is
the ability to act in a purely vocal setting. The voice
does not merely read the written word but must provide appropriate
emotional content, inflections, phrasing, and personality in conjunction
with the visuals.
In short, the voice talent creates a natural and appropriate
vocal accompaniment to the production - it is an essential part of
creating a sense of human interaction. Here, the type of voice needs
consideration - does the production need: male or female (does it
matter), child or adult, warmth or coldness, innocence or sophistication...
Since the V.O. does not lip-sync to an on frame character,
two production techniques are possible. The voice can be recorded
first and then the film/animation cut to this dialogue track or, the
voice talent can record to a production video track.
Recording the voice to a video track is preferable
- the talent can interact with the emotional and contextual elements
of the visual and a better sense of phrasing and timing is possible.
It is at this point that any adjustments to script or visual will
become evident - hopefully, the storyboard timings were accurate.
Unfortunately, the recording of the voice is not the
end - the layup to video is next. Often, the voice track must be cut
into usable pieces to better serve the timing to picture
- at this point, any EQ requirements and track cleaning
Again, the placement of the dialogue track to the
visual does have an element of the subjective. Should the visual precede
the dialogue entrance - or follow - or share the same entrance. Again,
the naturalness of the interaction should be the determining
factor. The displacement of a few frames may be the difference in
realizing this crucial element for a successful Voice Over....