Tips for recording Voice-Overs for dance routines

voice memo app iconMore and more folks are interested in recording voice-overs of various kinds for their dance routines. Since Squirrel Trench Audio works with dance teachers and choreographers all over the world, we usually can’t come to you in order to do the recording. This means you are on your own to record your own dancers’ voices, but it’s not too hard to do that, and send us the resulting audio files.

The good news: if you have an iPhone, it’s easy to record the voice-overs that you want. Just use the (free) Voice Memo app that is built-in. Here are the tips in a nutshell, with further explanation below:

  • Record in a living room or bedroom; never in a dance studio
  • Minimize any environmental noise or sounds
  • Aim the bottom of the iPhone at your dancer(s), about 1.5 feet away
  • Record three takes of the words you want
  • Speak clearly, and with passion!

Record in a living room or bedroom; never in a dance studio

One of the most important aspects to getting a good recording is the room in which you record, because sound bounces off of walls, floor and ceiling. This is called reverberation, which is a form of echo. Pretty much the worst space to do a recording is inside a dance studio rehearsal room. Ideally, you want to be in a living room or bedroom when recording a voice-over. The more drapes or other fabric there is in the room, the better. Carpeting is also very helpful. Using the Voice Memo app on your iPhone, situate yourself with the iPhone, and the person(s) that you are recording, in the middle of the room, away from all the walls.

Minimize any external sound or noise

It should go without saying that you don’t want any background noise to be happening while you record your voice. Make sure no one else is talking nearby, and make sure that all sources of hum or buzz are eliminated, or as low as possible. Nearby fans, or anything else with a motor, should be turned off for the duration of the recording. Make sure the windows of the room are shut to minimize any sound coming in from the outside.

The iPhone’s mic is in the bottom of the phone; aim it at your dancer(s), about 1.5 feet away

Hold the iPhone approximately 1 to 2 feet from the person(s) speaking (1.5 feet is probably ideal). Aim the mic (which is in the bottom) at the person talking. It should be close to them, but not TOO close.

Record three takes of the words you want 

Record at LEAST three “takes” of the words that you want to have. That way, I will be able to choose from the best of the resulting versions. Sometimes a word might get cut off, or the speaker trips over a word. If you have them repeat their lines three times, then I can put together the best version of the words.

Speak clearly and with passion! 

While the voice talent may be reading from a paper, they should nevertheless speak their part with conviction! Speak each word clearly, and make sure that sentences are not run together. Most of all, speak the words with as much “character” and emotion that you can muster! If you are worried about being too “over the top”, that’s okay; that’s why you record several takes. Do the first take “normal”, then do take two with MORE emotion, and then in take three, let it all hang out! You can decide, after you record, which one is the best to use. In many cases, you may think you are being way over the top, but that might be exactly the right emotion to convey the message in a dynamic way.

Most of all; have a blast doing it, knowing that your words are going to be heard over a performance sound system.

Here’s a link to previews of a number of edited and prepared spoken word soundtracks for dance routines.

 

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