Directing Terms - Part I
Marc Cashman

Marc Cashman is a producer, copy writer, voice talent, and VO coach in Los Angeles, CA. Starting this month, Marc shares some of the "insider terms" and special phrases of the voiceover business.

Before and after every take, you’ll receive some sort of direction from the producer, hopefully preceded by the phrase “That was good.” The producer will tell you whether you’re “in the pocket,” meaning that, for the most part, you’ve emphasized the right words or phrases, your timing is good, your enunciation is clear and your overall tone and energy is appropriate. If you get conflicting direction, ask for clarification. The best advice: listen, listen, listen.

Accent it: Emphasize or stress a syllable, word or phrase.

Add life to it: Your reading is flat. One expert advises: “Give it C.P.R.: Concentration, Punch, Revive it!”

Add some smile: Simply put, smile when you’re reading. It makes you sound friendly and adds more energy to your read.

Be authoritative: Make it sound like you know what you’re talking about. Be informative.

Be real: Add sincerity to your read. Similar to “make it conversational.” Be genuine and true-to-life in your delivery.

Billboard it: Emphasize a word or phrase, most always done with the name of the product or service.

Bring it up / down: Increase or decrease the intensity or volume of your read. This may refer to a specific section of the copy or the overall script.

Button it: Put an adlib at the end of a spot.

Color it: Give a script various shades of meaning. Look at a script as a black and white outline of picture that you have to color, with shading and texture.

Don’t sell me: Throw out the “announcer” voice, relax; the read is sounding too hard-sell.

Fade in / fade out: Turning your head toward or away from the microphone as you are speaking, or actually turning your entire body and walking away. This is done to simulate the “approach” or “exit” of the character in the spot.

False start: You begin and make a mistake. You stop, the engineer refers to this as a false start and either goes over the first slate or begins a new slate.

Fix it in the mix: What is done in post-production, usually after the talent leaves. This involves fixing level changes, editing mouth noises, etc.

Good read: You’re getting closer to what they want, but it’s not there yet.

Hit the copy points: Emphasize the product/service benefits more.

In the can: All recorded takes. The engineer and producer refer to this as having accomplished all the takes they need to put the spot together.

In the clear: Delivering your line without stepping on other actors’ lines

Next month, we'll continue Marc's list of "inside voiceover direction terms."


Adapted and compiled from the following sources: (All of these books are available here.)
James Alburger --"The Art of Voice-Acting;" Focal Press (SE 1998 & 2002)
Susan Blu & Molly Ann Mullin "Word of Mouth-Revised Edition;" Pomegranate Press (1996)
Terri Apple, " Making Money in Voice-Overs;" Lone Eagle Publishing Company (1999)
Alice Whitfield, "Take It From The Top;" Ring-U-Turkey Press (1992)
Sandy Thomas, "So You Want To Be a Voice-Over Star;" In The Clubhouse Publishing (1999)
Terry Berland & Deborah Ouellette, "Breaking Into Commercials;" Plume Publishing (1997)
Chris Douthitt/Tom Wiecks, "Putting Your Mouth Where The Money Is;" Grey Heron Books (1996)
Chuck Jones, "Making Your Voice Heard;" Back Stage Books, (1996)
Elaine A. Clark, "There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is;" Back Stage Books (SE 2000)

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