The Voice in the Booth
Sign Language …
A number of years ago I saw a video of myself in the booth doing a voice over and was quite astounded by how physically animated I got. There were weird facial expressions, hand gestures and arms going everywhere.
Sure, I knew I always made a conscious effort to get into the character of the read as best I could, but the amount of animation surprised me.
I started to check out other voice over artists at work and discovered I wasn’t alone in the extra movements in the booth department.
I guess it helps us to emphasize the words, tone and sentiment in the script. People in many countries and cultures around the world have been perfecting the art form for centuries - Take the Italians for example, they ‘re masters at it.
My crazy sign language and hand gestures haven’t gone unnoticed either. Nathan Russell – Creative Director at NOVA in Brisbane has noted these weird movements from the booth and suggested that all my gestures be recorded somehow and turned into some kind of sign language that writers could use to give specialised direction to the voice artist.
For example – The pointed finger would mean, drive home the message. Two open hands - calm, measured and reassuring. A clenched fist – make it sound tough and determined.
Of course there are hundreds more that could be used. You could even have a separate column on the script for the placement of the gestures.
Hand gestures, facial expressions and arm movements may appear a little unusual to the casual observer, but there is no doubt they help the end product. I once wore a noisy shirt (made from some type of stiff polyester fabric) to a voice session and was asked stop moving around so much because my shirt was making too much noise. So I put a halt to all arm waving and finger pointing and the read sounded totally flat and void of emotion and feeling. I ended up doing the session with the shirt off. Lucky I don’t move my legs around during a performance or it might have been pants of as well.
Maybe you’ve got a few favorite gestures of your own – please share.