Hiring a Narrator for Longer Content
As with any profession, different niches call for different skill sets, and the same is true for voice over — especially when you’re looking for a voiceover narrator for long-form work, like documentaries or any sort of internal training.
So, what should you look for in hiring a voice talent for that kind of project?
Listen to Their [Different Types of] Demos
This might seem obvious, but much like how voice actors will create different demos for political commercials, broadcast ads, or even automotive reads, a great voiceover narrator will do the same for long-form narration projects, too.
Now, this doesn’t mean their demo will be 30 minutes long [though, at typically :90 to 2:00 in length, it will likely be a little longer than a standard political demo], but instead will take you through a wide range of styles more fit to a long-term narration. Demos that fit this description may be for eLearning, corporate or medical narration, documentaries, audiobooks or podcasts.
As you listen to their different demos, think about what you’d like to hear over the course of… well, however long your project is [a good, average rate is 150 words per minute]. If the talent’s voice is a little grating to you after 2 minutes, you better believe it’ll be a lot harder to sit through 10 minutes of narration — and vice versa.
As you settle on your voice [more on that below], try to pick out 2-3 different spots from the voice talent’s demo that resonate with you and capture the sound you’re looking for. Using a voice actor’s demo to guide them on your project is a great mutual point of reference… especially with long-form genres and styles that are usually more “hands off” [i.e., don’t involve live direction].
Ask Your Talent About Their Capabilities
Once you’ve picked your top choice, you’ll want to reach out to them to ask a few questions to ensure they can get the job done.
First, check in about their availability. Even the fastest talent, editing themselves, will often need at least 4 hours to fully produce a 30-minute narration soup-to-nuts. Especially since you’re likely sending them a script to turn around on their own, make sure your selected voice talent can actually meet your deadline.
If available, you’ll also want to see if the voice actor can provide samples of work of similar length. This one is not a “must,” but if you can double-check to make sure they can offer consistency in delivery on a long-form project, it always helps.
Lastly, never be shy about asking for an audition, especially from a new-to-you talent, to hear their studio capabilities and ensure they can deliver. Auditions within reason [:30 to :60 of audio] are customary, and considered part of good-faith negotiations toward booking a job.
Giving Your Talent the Direction They Need
Of course, some of the obvious questions will include recording rates & editing, but long-form narration is typically much more “hands off” than a commercial voice over booking — that is, unless you want to listen to the full project be narrated in real time. For a quick documentary, that might be fine… but for anything much over 5 minutes, it’s usually pretty tedious.
To expedite this, you’ll want to create a compelling casting spec that details everything you’d like from your narrator. You’ll also want to give them direction up-front on file type [mp3, WAV, aiff, etc.], as well as let them know if you want or need any additional editing — do you want just one, long file with all the narration, or do you want it broken up into slides [typically for an extra fee]? Do you need them to add any processing or de-breath-ing before they send it on? How would you like them to send you the completed files — FTP? Dropbox? WeTransfer? Carrier pigeon?
The more questions like that that you can answer ahead of time, the smoother it’ll be for the voice talent to give you exactly what you need, on-time and on-budget.
Need a hand finding a long-form voiceover narrator for your project? Contact us via the form below, and we’ll be glad to help!