How to save money on a voiceover (And why a green apple can save you $200)

The cheapest possible voiceover is, of course, yourself. You can easily use the recording applications on almost any laptop to create a voiceover.

You’d think this option would be used mostly for films of family reunions and children's birthday parties, but I’ve actually seen digital agencies working for some of Denmark’s top companies use themselves or ”that guy around the office” to voice expensive videos.

I recently watched a visually excellent video for a multi-million kroner, multi-year project – voiced by an English speaker who sounded like a Valium addict reading a phone book. It ruined the effect.

A better route is to get a good local voiceover and get the most value out of his or her services. As an English voice actor in Denmark, here are my tips:

Send me the final script. Like most professional voiceovers, I mark up my script before I get to the studio, checking for tricky pronunciations, and putting in emphasis points and pauses. I do this all on my own time, since I want to make I’m sure ready to go as soon as I arrive. But if you greet me at the door with an entirely new script, we’ll have to start that process all over again, as the studio time clock runs. It doesn’t have to be long before – even an hour before the assignment is fine, since I can mark it in the bus or taxi on the way there.

Use the time you’ve paid for. Since I bill by the hour, feel free to use the whole hour. I will honestly not be offended if you ask me to “try it one more time,” because you’d like to try a different effect, even if we’re already on the 6th or 16th take. I recently did a voiceover for a beverage product directed at women, and we tried the voiceover as several different women – the sensual lady, the high-earning professional, the best friend. The client was able to pick and choose between them once she’d returned to her team.

Let me recommend a studio. It’s important that I have eye contact with you, the customer: I recently had an awful experience in a place where the recording took place in a windowless box was down the hall from the engineer. I had no eye contact with the client, which means I’d read all the way to the end of the script before she could tell me I had mispronounced a medical term in the first line. I know most of the studios in town, so I can easily suggest one that will work for both of us.

Think about the voiceover character in advance. If you know who your audience is and what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll be better able to communicate it to me. And if I know what kind of effect you want to achieve, I can make sure to give you what you want.

Have refreshments for your voiceover. Water and tea are good for someone who will be doing a lot of talking. Soda and junk food can create unattractive ”pops” in the voice track. (If your voiceover is eating potato chips before a job, you do not have a professional voiceover.) An apple contains pectin, which helps smooth the voice and remove vocal ”clicks” so a sound engineer doesn’t have to remove them later.  This can easily save you 15 minutes of studio time, worth a minimum of DK200.

Pay me. Although there are a lot of starving voice artists out there, I’m not one of them. One week about a month ago I did four different voice jobs – I know that, because today I’m going to have to call up 3 of the companies and “remind” them their bill is due. The next time there is a rush job – and almost all voiceovers seem to be rush jobs – who will I take first? I love doing voiceover work, but it is a job, not a hobby. I’ll invoice you as soon as you let me know you’re happy with my work, and 30-day payment terms are fair for both of us.


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