Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Brad Lavelle's VO Hints and Tips

Today, to mark the 4th anniversary of the death of friend and colleague Brad Lavelle, a superb voice artist, I give you some of Brad’s top hints and tips. Brad was kind and generous to those in our industry, particularly to those starting out. He shared advice and information freely - this information used to be available on his website, which is no longer live. I reproduce it here to honour him.

Brad is much missed by so many of us. We think of him and his beautiful wife Meg often.

For clarity, I’ve put his tips in groups. 

This week: some of Brad Lavelle’s top tips for preparing to go into studio.

from VO 101 – by Brad Lavelle

“Being a skilled voice actor is partly about the quality of your voice, it's also about techniques, skill-sets and behaviours that you’ll develop through application and experience. Here’s a few I’ve learned and am happy to pass on. 

Don't wear noisy jewellery in session. If you like your bling, take it off before you record. 

If you have change or keys in your pocket, put them in your bag or just somewhere where they won’t jangle when you move.

Don't wear a watch that ticks, beeps or chimes. 

Do turn off your cell/mobile phone. 

Don't wear nylon shirts - static and rustling noises will happen. 

Don't wear leather trousers, jackets or shirts. These don't rustle; they have a more pleasing flatulent sound. 

Do understand that a booking is for the duration you’re booked. 

Do arrive on time, maybe a bit early. It's hard if you’re booked back-to-back & have to travel halfway across town - ask your agent for leeway. 

Do remember to eat before the session, a while before the session too, but not too much garlic as you don’t want to offend. Munching on something prior to getting in the booth will help stop those annoying tummy rumbles that can hold up a session. As we’re talking about food & drink, always take your litter with you when you leave and it’s a nice gesture to bring out your empty water glass. Don’t expect the studio staff to rush out and buy you a McMeal if you’ve got the munchies...this is arrogant actor-ish (treasure, sweetie, darling) behaviour that can set the staff against you. 

Don’t have coffee or tea in session because if you add milk, it will bring on phlegm and they can tighten the vocal chords without the moo juice. Instead just opt for a glass of H2O, it’ll keep your voice lubricated and your lips moist but not wet - this’ll help stop mouth noises that the engineer will have to edit out. 

Don’t drink sparkling drinks of any kind prior to or during a session; always drink the still or flat variety. Would you want to engineer for someone who was gurgling and burping through their session? 

Don’t ask, “Should I start speaking now?" This question is a red flag that you are a newbie. When you’re asked to "get levels," or "give me a read," just start reading. Hesitating at the start of a recording is like shooting off fireworks that spell out, "I have never done this before." 

Dress in layers. Many studios don’t have air conditioning due to the noise associated with it…rather than steaming away, its better to get down to a T-shirt and pair of shorts than sweating it out. 

If you are sent a script beforehand, do read it before the session. Find any problem areas and suggest changes prior to recording- it may impress. Often the script will have been written by a catalogue copywriter and will clunky in language and may sound awkward to the listener. However, the script may have been approved by committee, so the producer or director may not be capable of changing a single word. Be sympathetic to their problems-practice those tongue twisters so that you can say anything. 

Don't ask the studio to feed your parking meter if your session goes over the allotted time. Put enough money in to last for an over-run. Why should the studio suffer if you're too stingy to plan ahead? You could always take the bus-it’s more eco friendly anyway. 

The quality and the level of your headphones can alter your performance- too loud or too soft a read, for example. So do ask for more or less fall back if you need it. In the end it’s up to you to make your performance work.”