I have a 90 minute feature animated film I'm currently creating. Soon I will need to cast two roles, for the two main characters in the film. I have a local college that is willing to lend me their studio space on a weekend to do the recording, though I've yet to go check it out and see what kinds of equipment they have there. I would imagine they have some pretty good stuff, probably better than what I was planning on buying (Rode NT1A, Scarlett 2i2, room treatment).
That said, I want to put aside some money to pay voice actors. Having never done this kind of thing, I want to try and learn voice acting myself to learn how to direct voice actors in an efficient and constructive manner. I just have a few general questions that maybe you can help me with? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
1) I have read that the best way to give an actor "what they need" for a role is to explain what it is their character WANTS. So instead of saying "your character is an egotistical brat," I should give them "you want to be the very best, you don't care what others think, you will stop at nothing to make yourself better than everyone else" etc. Thoughts?
2) How much leeway should I give my actors with their interpretation of the script? Should I make them follow my vision exactly, or can I let them play a bit? How much is too much play?
3) Roughly how much studio time do you think it would take to record 90 minutes of audio? (generally speaking, obviously one character is not going to speak for 90 minutes).
4) At this point, I'm considering students and non-pros or folks who might want to become pro and are looking for gigs. I just don't think I can afford a pro? I had in mind that I would be able to pay someone $500 a day, up to about 4 days if needed.
5) Could I afford a pro? How long do you think it'd take a pro to lay down their tracks, and what is a good day rate?
Thanks in advance everybody.
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06-20-2012 09:43 AM
06-21-2012 01:30 AM
1) both, plus anything else you need to help the actor understand who the character is. Some read-throughs and dicussions should help you both zero in on what you really want (which may not be what you originally expected).
2) recording multiple takes costs almost nothing except time - be sure to get a 'straight' clean usable take of every line, but then keep recording as many other takes as are giving you (and the actor) something interesting, different emotions, stressing different words, whatever. Sure, keep an eye on overall time or you'll still be there at 3am! Again you can minimise wasted time with read-throughs beforehand - particularly useful if you're not sure how a character should sound. Readthroughs with all the actors together also help heaps with generating chemistry between the characters, even if you choose to then record them separately (which is a whole other issue)
3) I'd allow for 5-10 times as long as the dialogue, e.g. a character with ten minutes of dialogue will probably take 50-100 minutes to record (not including warming up, chatting, arguments etc etc). More if you do plan on lots of experimentation and alternate takes.
4) amateurs will probably give good results, so long as they're playing characters similar to themselves, e.g. a 19-yr-old guy is more likely to play a great male uni student than a 90-yr-old woman. There are plenty of exceptions though, some people are really good at putting on funny/strange voices. And quite a few people (such as myself) can voice act even though they could never ever act in front of a camera.
5) No idea on rates. Personally I'd only get a pro in if they're a "name" who will somehow help you make or sell the film.
06-21-2012 05:03 AM
Good Luck with your project!
DaveDavid W. Jones
06-22-2012 07:43 AM
Hi guys, thanks for the great answers. Most of this is in line with what I expected to find, great to confirm it. I am hoping to go with amateurs, mainly because of budget constraints, so I will keep in mind that I might need to focus on finding people that fit the profile of the characters. As my two main characters are college students, hopefully I can find some talented, starving college students. (I kinda planned for that!)
David, thanks for lending your experience. This is one of the reasons I want to try and learn to do voiceover work myself, so that I have a better grasp on the techniques and nuance of getting good vocal recordings as well as directing. On the subject of dialogue editing, I'm also very much into trying that out as well. Sound was one of the things that I knew very little about when I started my project, so while I was in the scripting and development phase, a lot of research went into sound. I am loving it, it's so much fun to go out and get wild Foley and sound effects, now if I can just reach a point where I'm comfortable working with people on voices I'll be all set. The budget for my film is $20,000, with about half of that spent currently, so it may be possible for me to find some decent folks that will work within the rest of the budget. (still need a 3ds Max license though, ouch) I think the point you made about professionals knowing how to take direction and taking less time to get the take is very good. I will take that one to heart.
Thanks again guys, thanks for the well-wishes.
06-25-2012 07:23 AM
The biggest practical thing I can mention for V/O sessions: have a lot of copies of the script, printed in sort of a column style where there's plenty of room for notes. Midway through a paragraph you'll hear a flubbed word or something that's just not as legible as you want, or too much/too little energy. By the end of a section it's easy to forget the specifics, so underline the word/words and scrawl a note. Makes it way easier to cover the parts that need doing.
I often will just have one sentence of a paragraph re-done if everything else was great; in that case you need to make notes, and you may have a paragraph, followed by a sentence repeated several times (people can get hung up on one word -it's an odd thing about V/O, I once had someone who kept tripping on the word "dependable"). So having notes of what takes to insert in editing is priceless - you can have the talent say "paragraph 3, take 2" but it's easier if you can see the time display as the recorder rolls - I don't like having talent say anything but their lines.
For editing dialogue (or any audio) Pro Tools is fantastic - heck, even audacity does a decent job, but Pro Tools is fairly legendary for intuitive editing tools. The newer versions of PT will run on any audio hardware, you no longer need an Avid or Digidesign branded box connected. (Version 9 or 10 got us there). And PT ships with a stellar collection of plugins.
06-25-2012 09:11 AM
Thanks for the info. I think I will create a more voice actor friendly version of the script, and a version for myself that will have some extra room for notes. Great suggestion...I am dreading having to wade through a bazillion takes during dialogue editing, but this should be of monumental help, especially if I have some timestamps and notes jotted down.
I did consider Pro Tools when I was looking at software, but what I ended up purchasing in the end was the Adobe CS5.5 production bundle since that kills like, seven birds with one stone as far as animation production goes. So I have Audition. Any experience with it? I've done some sound effects work with it so far, but have not yet tried it for dialogue edits. I'm going to do a rough reading of my stuff prior to casting it to get timings down for my animatic, so I guess we'll see how it does for that task.
Also, what would you guys suggest I sample at? 24bit 96khz? Or is that overkill for dialogue? I've heard people say that for dialogue tracks 24bit 48khz is acceptable...
Thanks as always.
06-27-2012 01:03 AM
I'd record at high quality - the extra level of detail may help during post if the voices need to be cleaned up or have effects added etc, even though the final rendered quality may be lower.
06-27-2012 03:21 AM
Before going into a studio, find a rehearsal room and blast through the script and work on the characterization (thats also a good way of developing the idea) if your not doing it in a pro studio hunt for the best technician you can. If you manage to get a name its still 50/50 at how good they will be in studio without on set stimulation. Test and development is the way to go so when you hit the studio your saving everyones time and keeping it fresh. The initial going into the studio for Actors is an exciting thing six hour later not so.
06-27-2012 08:13 PM
If you're cutting a lot of stuff, learn about crossfades; lots of people suggest zero-point editing (your cuts but together where the waveform of both clips cross the zero-line). I've found zero-point certainly kills any editing "clicks", but all that damn zooming in... if you hear a click, crossfade it first. Listen with some good headphones, make EQ decisions on the best monitors you can find. This sh*t is like video, film, photos, or golf - there's never enough gear.
07-02-2012 07:59 AM
Alright, going with 24/48 for the dialogue then. I think that will be plenty good enough considering my final output is probably going to be 16/48 or even 16/44. I'm monitoring with Sennheiser HD280's, and I will be mixing with Yamaha HS50Ms. Considering the rest of my budget, I think this will be adequate for the production values of my film. I'm not really sure whether I'll be able to mix in the same studio... free time there is limited and I think I'll be happy with just being able to record there.
@jpbankesmercer: Yep, I will need to do this. I want to be able to direct my actors and give them what they need without driving them crazy after 6 hours in the studio. I want to make it fun for them while still getting what I need. I think doing quick read-throughs will let them play with the characters a bit, so when it's time to get serious, they'll be able to hit the mark.
@Michael: Yep, I actually do this type of editing currently, but I tend to mix it up depending on the cut. Mainly it's a hold-over from the way I did stuff in Premiere, since you can only cut on the frame... yeeeaaaah, glad I learned the power of Audition. I hear you with the gear too...I have a "want" list a mile long, but I have to force myself to ask if I really NEED it or not... what can I get away with? I have been eyeing this really pretty 10bit monitor... but then again I won't need it for texturing and color grading for a year yet.