A cold read is usually defined as reading a piece of copy that you’ve never seen before… while that may be true, just how cold is a trained voice actor and interpreter of the written word?
Guest blogger Tim Lundeen explores this question and challenges us to rethink how we perceive reading copy aloud that has never graced us before in today’s VOX Daily.
No Need For a Cold Read
By Tim Lundeen
My initial proposal was, “There’s no such thing as a cold read.” Then I realized it made more sense to say, “There’s no need for a cold read.” Then I realized I would still have to explain myself…
In the voice over industry, the concept of a ‘cold read’ is merely the performance of text which one is unprepared for and/or is not familiar with. In a sense that’s true; I’ve been handed scripts I’ve never seen before (I’d call that a cold-script). But what doesn’t make sense is the assumption that unfamiliarity is synonymous with “unpreparedness.”
Do I really have to be so unprepared when handed fresh copy that I’m incapable of reading it properly? Can voice talent be prepared in such a way that a cold-script might still be performed accurately and effectively? If that is possible (as I believe it is) then there would be no need for a cold-read.
From my perspective, what makes being unprepared for a cold-read become a moot issue is how well read an individual is. Not how many projects one had narrated, not how many voice classes or coaches one has studied under, not how many speech therapists or dieticians one has consulted. In the first 30 seconds of a cold-script narration, I can tell whether or not an individual is well read.
(Not coincidentally, when approached by aspiring voice talent who want to “get into” the industry, the first question I ask them is “how many books do you read every month?” Most say “None.” Then I quickly suggest they look elsewhere for a career.)
So what started out as a proposition, that I don’t believe a cold-read is a required reality, has quite naturally become a promotion; Read More Books. Not performed out-loud; Not to be paid for it. Just the sheer baptism into the experience of language, and the familiarity of words on a page. Doing so, I believe, can make one exponentially more prepared to narrate a cold-script. Let the truly torturous cold-read be left for those who choose complacent illiteracy.