The Importance of a Pre-Sentence
Deb Munro (www.chantiproductions.com}
The trick to voicing, is being truly involved in whatever you're reading. There are many more tricks of course, but this is one of the main ones. Some people find it very difficult to get involved, or even understand the concept of being involved in their character. They put on the accent and then read through the script, adding little care or concern in the words or in the character for that matter. The stereotypical broadcaster will put a bit of life into it, but they don't really believe in, nor care about what they are saying either. And many seem to be too ego driven to re-educate themselves and learn today's voiceover techniques.
The number one tip for me as a voice artist, is pre-sentences.you just say something before your first words of dialogue (or wherever needed) that relates to the emotion of the scene, this will usually get you involved in what you're reading. James and Penny have probably mentioned them to you before, but do you really use them? Did you listen and truly understand how to use this concept? There aren't a lot of producers out there who have even heard of Pre-Sentences... so you'd have to explain to them what you are doing.... (Ed Note: We also refer to a "pre-sentence" as a "lead-in line" and a "post-sentence" as a "lead-out line".)
For those of you who don't understand the concept, I'll give you an example: Say the dialogue is, "So, I was having coffee with Beth, when the phone rang...." . Now if you wanted to add a pre-sentence to this, you would think about what type of emotion you want this character to convey. So let's say we want them to be excited about the call. Here's what our pre-sentence would look like, IT WAS SO EXCITING, "So, I was having....."Now, just don't say that pre-sentence, but really feel the excitement of being excited. Think of winning the lottery or something.(JUST REMEMBER, always give a beat or pause between your pre-sentence and your original dialogue... they may keep the pre-sentence, and like your ability to ad-lib, but allow them the option of omitting it in editing).
Now let's give one more example and change the emotion. Frustration... you've been busy all day and this call is a nuisance... Pre-sentence: Big Sigh to start (nice human quality)...MAN, I HAD SUCH A BAD DAY.... "So, I was having coffee with...." Think of something that really aggravates you. Is it your nagging wife, your thoughtless husband, your rebelling teenager, bratty children, road rage perhaps... whatever it is that is your biggest pet peeve, think of it as you say the pre-sentences, and it should carry you right into the proper read, to convey that emotion, and believability at the same time.
I appreciate this time to share some industry techniques with you, and look forward to sharing more. I can't stress to you enough the importance of continuous education, as you explore the exciting world of voice. There are very few professions that can learn their craft without continuous training and exercise. Voice artists are no exception.
We are just at the beginning of a huge industry emerging before our eyes.Thanks to James, Penny and other dedicated voice artists out there, you will be heading in the right directions. Follow your passion, and enjoy what you do.
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