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BC-SeaDragon

Voice Over Help

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Hello,

 

I am interested in taking the next step and getting into some voice over short videos as I am getting bored of the same old music vids. I have never attempted this before and just looking to get a running start from you all.

 

Any info regarding mics and software would be much appreciated. The other thing I was curious of was the easiest way to go about workflow... Have a rough edit script to base editing on. Editing then creating script. Rough plot and script before shooting and editing etc.

 

A little hesitant about how my voice will sound but willing to at least give it a try!

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

Kelly

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I am just a amateur hobbyist, so I am in a similar situation as you.

 

I hate the sound of my voice but find a little narration and voice over does make my videos better. The bigger problem for me is writing good dialog. Interviews talking about the dives makes the dialog problem easier.

 

I have been using a portable audio recorder. A lav mic for interviews helps keep background noise to a minimum. This might sound funny, but for reading script, under a blanket when recording has worked better than sitting in an open room.

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And yet, there are some who do their narrations in a closet or other dead sounding room. Rather inconvienent and not always successful. Audiences will put up with less than stellar video production but will walk when there is poor audio which can arise from levels either too high or too low, distortion or unbalanced between narration and musical soundtrack. So you are definitely on the right track just by asking and being concerned about it.

Always use your NLEs audio meters and never, ever, ever have them go above 0 decibels. I aim at -6 for narrations and anywhere from -12 to -25 on the soundtrack. Actually, the -6 is the absolute highest I set to and am usually considerably lower than that.

 

You might want to take a look at this to see if it fits your narration or musical instrument needs. http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/edito...h2_douglas.html

For a field recorder read: http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/zoom_...er_douglas.html

and http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/zoom_...er_douglas.html

 

There are many good alternatives as well.

Steve

Edited by Steve Douglas

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I use a big solid side-address large-diaphragm condenser microphone made by Takstar. It's old now but it was cheap compared to big brand's version of the same thing and it does a good job. I have been using it with a pop filter but I've read recently in Jay Rose's excellent audio post-production book that it's preferable to have it slightly off to the side and do away with the pop filter.

 

Others use shotgun mics for voiceover, off to the side. I tried this with my Rode NTG-1 and thought it sounded much worse than my Takstar. I expect those getting good VO results with a shotgun are mostly using the Sennheiser 416 which is the industry standard shotgun mic and $$$.

 

I use the smallest/deadest room I can. I'm currently using a small bedroom with no external walls. When I'm doing voiceover I chuck just about all the soft furnishings and rugs in the apartment into it. Directly behind the mic I have a clothes rack. I have a long cable so the computer itself is in another room. Not as good as a proper booth but it'll do.

 

When you think you've got enough inflection in your voice, use just a little bit more. i.e. Go a little over the top, but stop short of Steve Irwin. For nature documentary stuff it can help to imagine you're narrating to kids. Lots of amateur voiceovers sound flat (including mine). Starting sentences high can help.

 

Add a bit of compression to the voiceover track. I have used something like 3:1 or 4:1 with a -18dB threshold.

 

Finally, don't explain everything that is on screen. I have been guilty of that. If you watch a BBC Attenborough show you'll see there are loads of pauses where the picture does the talking.

Edited by Nick Hope

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Ok well this is great and gets me pointed in the right direction. I have watched some videos where the narration sounded horrible and just kinda "cheap" and this is not the way I want to go. In saying that I dont want to break bank in the process because there are always ways around it. I will have to get set up and obviously play around with some trial and error, just another one of the many learning curves.

 

Thanks a lot for the suggestions and whenever I get around to it I will post for review.

 

Cheers,

 

Kelly

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A good software that does all you may need an more: Reaper... intimiadting at first but very capable for minimal cost. There are also many other options. Just happen to use this one.

 

For the hardware part, comments above give you options. In our case, the field recorder is Zoom H4n... excellent for the price, lots of options and you can use it to record at home as well. Simply record and then use the DAW software to edit.

 

Steve's comments are dead on the mark... audio is a least 50% of the recipe for good results. Mind you, videomust be good too.

 

Welcome to the ever-learning world of post production!

 

Michel

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I don't do much of this but when I do I use a Zoom H2 and edit in Audacity, which is a nice, free program. I don't like my voice either but Audacity has enough effects that I can get it to sound better and still like me somewhat. :-) The H2 is a decent, inexpensive recorder but the preamp is a bit weak IMO. It's geared more for recording music than speech. But you can get good recordings with it.

 

Write good copy and practice it. Time it out for the length of video. Speak confidently and don't let your voice tail off at the end of sentences. These are a few things I remember from my radio and tv classes years ago in college. Do several takes so you can cut and paste as necessary. Layering the audio will give you a fuller sound. By that I mean use some natural sound where appropriate, such as scuba divers bubbles, waves, weather etc. A bed of soft music under your narration works well too. Just some hints from an amateur.

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Thanks for the input.

 

Do you have any samples online to hear the sound quality of the Zoom H4N and H2??

 

Cheers,

 

Kelly

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I doubt you'll find anyone that likes the sound of their own voice, unless they are a hopelessly self obsessed egotist! :lol:

 

Audio voiceovers and narration is very difficult and if done badly it can ruin a really good film. On the flip side if it is done well it can really enhance an otherwise unremarkable film. Here's a couple of things to consider that others have not mentioned:

 

- I've found recorders like the H4N to be pretty noisy when compared to external mic capture via XLR inputs on a decent(ish) camcorder. If you do look at the H4N then also consider the Tascam DR-100 which most people who have used both (including me) seem to prefer.

 

- Always record some ambient sound from the room/location where you are doing your voiceover. This is commonly called 'wildtrack' and you can use this to fill in the gaps between when you are speaking without having to listen to deep breaths or other noises in between. Unless you have a mic/recorder with very little noise you'll need to do this to stop the distracting start/stop of the background noise when the narration kicks in and out.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Cheers, Simon

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unless they are a hopelessly self obsessed egotist! :rofl:

 

Cheers, Simon

 

;):):lol:

 

Dean

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- Always record some ambient sound from the room/location where you are doing your voiceover. This is commonly called 'wildtrack' and you can use this to fill in the gaps between when you are speaking without having to listen to deep breaths or other noises in between. Unless you have a mic/recorder with very little noise you'll need to do this to stop the distracting start/stop of the background noise when the narration kicks in and out.

 

Even better, try to do it in an environment with such low background noise that it's not necessary. I'm lucky to have that here in the padded cell I've created, but I suppose it's an impossibility in some environments.

 

If you're doing a lot of audio work, it's really worth getting a sound card (audio interface) with phantom power and XLR inputs/outputs and recording straight to the computer rather than a camera. Cameras themselves introduce noise. I have an Echo Gina 3G, which I love, but it's old-style PCI only so not a wise purchase now. But there are great and reasonably-priced USB audio interfaces around now by Presonus and M-Audio. But some of the little audio recorders like the Zoom ones can be used as a USB audio interface too and may well make a good job of it.

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Even better, try to do it in an environment with such low background noise that it's not necessary. I'm lucky to have that here in the padded cell I've created, but I suppose it's an impossibility in some environments.

 

If you're doing a lot of audio work, it's really worth getting a sound card (audio interface) with phantom power and XLR inputs/outputs and recording straight to the computer rather than a camera. Cameras themselves introduce noise. I have an Echo Gina 3G, which I love, but it's old-style PCI only so not a wise purchase now. But there are great and reasonably-priced USB audio interfaces around now by Presonus and M-Audio. But some of the little audio recorders like the Zoom ones can be used as a USB audio interface too and may well make a good job of it.

 

Unless you are in a completely soundless studio there will always be some ambient background noise. If it is a low enough level it can masked by a music track or other sound and you'd possibly never notice it, but if not then the stop/starts will stick out like a sore thumb unless you fill the gaps.

 

I didn't know that you could get XLR input/ouput for a computer and that looks a great idea, however the Zoom's and all the other portable audio capture devices in that price range that I have used are very noisy when compared side by side with a decent XLR camera input. They are fine for capturing music or background ambient or even spoken words with background ambient, but if you try to use them for narration then I've found that you'll generally be pretty unhappy with the results.

 

Cheers, Simon

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Unless you are in a completely soundless studio there will always be some ambient background noise. If it is a low enough level it can masked by a music track or other sound and you'd possibly never notice it, but if not then the stop/starts will stick out like a sore thumb unless you fill the gaps.

Simon, I took a look at the voiceovers I've recorded in the bedroom with my Takstar mic and Echo Gina 3G audio interface. According to Vegas, the parts where I'm not speaking are at -57 to -54dBfs. This is a recording with peaks up to as much as -2dBfs. So the silent parts are effectively inaudible. Vegas automatically puts a very short fade on the ends of audio events anyway, to stop clicking. The length is configurable but defaults to 10ms.

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I like the zoom h4n, haven't used anything to compare it with but works well with my wireless mic and shotgun via XLR, I have never used the onboard mics. I use it for audio with my 7D.

Trying to get a good sound with a voice over is tough, I reckon you go the docco style interview or vox pops, I think it makes it more interesting and people will put up with background noise if it is obviously beinig filmed outside etc.

I always leave a proper voice over for a studio record, they just sound so much better and as Steve mentioned people will put up with crappy video but not crappy audio, there is the usual statistic that 70% of the enjoyment of what we watch comes from the audio not video.

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Completely agree Jon. There is a massive difference between narrative or documentary interview sound and a narration voice over.

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Simon,

While I haven't done this, if you want that doc, in the field sound, you can record some ambiance in the field and put that behind your at home voice over. This might give it that 'on the spot' feel in the audio.

Steve

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