As a voice over performer, is it possible to consider yourself an overpaid, glorified sound effect? Join voice over expert Pat Fraley and learn more about how your voice serves as the foundation and how sound effects bring your performance to another level in conjunction with music, giving your read even greater environmental and emotional context within a scene.
Transcript of I Am a Sound Effect Training
Female: Welcome to Voice Over Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pills of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors, and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week Voices.com is pleased to present Pat Fraley.
Hi! This is Pat Fraley with a brief lesson on a critical issue that has to do with recording and performance. First, let me share with you a concept or better a mindset which holds me in good stead. As a voice over performer, I consider myself an overpaid, glorified sound effect. I’m not anymore important to many audio projects, certainly to radio commercials than a music, sound effect or sound processing.
Sound a little hard on the ego? Well, let me give you an example. Say, I lay down this track, “(Breaths) Captain, I’m running short of oxygen. I’m going to sign off now. Just (Breaths) keep diggin’ cappy.” Now, sure, I’ve done my best to deliver the performance, which is central to the scene. But, who’s the real star here? Let’s slow down the effects.
First, how about the echo which places the character in something like a cave, right? “(Breaths) Captain, I’m running short of oxygen. I’m going to sign off now. Just (Breaths) keep diggin’ cappy.” Now the processing of the character communication device, which tells the listening audience that message is being heard not in a cave, but say back in the headquarters. “(Breaths) Captain, I’m running short of oxygen. I’m going to sign off now. Just (Breaths) keep diggin’ cappy.”
Now, the music which adds the need for drama to the scene. “(Breaths) Captain, I’m running short of oxygen. I’m going to sign off now. Just (Breaths) keep diggin’ cappy.” Now, who’s the star here? Seems like ensemble effort.
Now, here’s the big question, how do you know how to guide your performance when you haven’t heard the end result. So, let’s say that on top of that brief script it says in a cave communicating back to headquarters and dramatic music. Here’s the question, knowing those things could you guide yourself into the performance for the best end result?
Or let me ask you three questions – Knowing it’s in the cave, would you have known that people speak quieter in an environment with an echo? Would you have known that your voices to be processed to come over a communication device like a telephone or a walkie talkie that it’s important to speak with full tone rather than dry or whispery tones? Do you know that when processed whispery tones aren’t very clear and lack the fidelity over most communication devices?
And finally, would you have backed off the drama or sadness in your performance knowing that the music will supply the necessary pathos or drama to the scene? How did I know to make all the adjustments? Because I’ve been at it for 35 years and I’ve made all the mistakes along the way; mistakes that you don’t have to make.
Here’s our problem as performers, we are seldom afforded the knowledge of the music, effects and processing which would be your partners up the road on the master track. I can tell you that all my time performing, I probably had effects shared at the time of my recording about maybe a dozen times of that.
So, here’s what I suggest. Play around with mixing in effects and music and doing processing so you have a better idea what you’re up against. You can download free music, free sound effects and get a simple processing package via the internet to do this.
Let me give you another simple example – Say that on the scene on a howling gale on a mountain. I know that I’m to overcome the wind in communicating. Say I speak about this loud. Can you hear me? Now, when I’ve left the studio and the engineers slaps the wind effect on, he can only crank up the volume to the gale about this much so we can hear my line.
Say I speak about this loud! Can you hear me? This makes our gale force wind sound more like static than howling wind. So, if I recorded my track louder like this – “(Sound effects) Hello! Can you hear me?” Then when I mixed it with the wind both of us read correctly. Let all boils down to practicing with your partners – sound effects, music and sound processing. Thanks for listening! “(Sound effect) Ow! That hurt!” How did I know how bad it hurt? Practice!
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Patrick Fraley has created voices for over 4,000 characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animation. He has produced dozens of award-winning audiobooks, such as, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Very Easy Death, and The Light in The Piazza. Pat produced and performed all 100 voices on the award winning audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which People Magazine hailed as, “The best yet of this evergreen.” Patrick teaches events, workshops, and seminars on various aspects of voice over across the country, and has created a variety of instructional books and CDs, all available at PatFraley.com. He is a member of The Voice and Speech Trainers of America, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from Cornell University.