Just recently I was asked by a film student whom I have worked with previously to help him out with recording some dialogue for their major project. The project was to create an old car advertisement, for the Ford Falcon GT-HO, not sure of the particular model. His request of me to was to record, edit and mix the dialogue of 3 different voice actors in the studio and bounce the separate tracks for him to add in to his final video. The audio was to be modern and clean with a bit of colour to help emphasise the emotion and style of the voice.
Something very interesting I learnt was how a film director will director will direct a vocal actor, which is very different to how us audio people will coach our artists or produce a song in the studio. The film student, named Bunitj, directed his actor more by trying to tap into their emotional position or to put in other words, he would try and establish a setting or persona for the actor to follow. Whereas in the music vocalist recording scenario, the song is motive and the performance and how it will be performed is more or less already known, just has to be executed to as high a quality as possible.
We initially began recording in the Raven MIDI on campus, which is not as dead a sound as I was hoping for. However we were able to move later on into the Audient B which has a big carpeted live room and is dead and dry as a bone. The three actors were, an elderly man, who was trying to achieve a voice similar to that of the race car driver Allan Moffat, I believe, the role of the older generation in the ad. Secondly was Bunitj himself, as the adult age role, and thirdly was a young boy called Henry who play the role of the child in the ad.
I record the voices with a Rode K2, I also auditioned a Shure SM7B, however the K2 was more balanced and cleaner. We took several take and then went back through finding the best takes and swapping parts and chopping up where needed. We also dropped the pitch of the older actor and Bunitj’s voice by around -45 to -50 cents, which just gave the voice the deeper tone it needed. There was a rough time bracket we had to fit in to, which meant we were finding more spots in the takes to shorten or lengthen gaps which made a more natural feel to the voice.
To Brad’s voice (the older man) we wanted it to sound a little more gravelly, straight away I reached for the Izotope trash 2 plugin, I managed to find an overdrive preset that fit the bill, it added a little more aggression to the tone. I also made a point of de-essing his, and all of the actors to keep the sibilance in check. Bunitj and Henry’s voice fine with the tone recorded, these two were to been more modern and clean as they were younger roles. On each of these I added in a small room reverb, the reverb was very subtly blended in as we didn’t want it to sound like they were in any particular room, but just enough to take the dry edge off, whilst still sound like a commercial voice narration. I also added in compression to tame the peaks of each take.
They didn’t require any specific sample rate or bit depth so I just bounced each of the tracks out at 48/24, as they might as well have a better quality if anything. I tried to get each to peak at around -10 dBFS, as the Australian standard peak is -24 LUFS for TV advertisements.
Here is the link to the final project…
Australia Government,. (2010). FREE TV AUSTRALIA OPERATIONAL PRACTICE OP- 59 (p. 2).