Technically I’ve been doing voice over for commercials since I was eight years old. Not professionally of course.I didn’t even know what VO was let alone think it was something one could make a living at. I’m sure my mother still has the cassette tapes somewhere amongst my old belongings that has the audio of me and my cousin, Heidi, recording all sorts of different commercials.
We were doing radio shows and talking about… God knows what and we needed spot breaks, well… because that’s what real radio people did.
So we recorded our own commercials. Among the many, I remember one very vividly. It was Bud Light commercial during the days of the “Give me a Light” campaign. They say “Give me a light” and then they hand them a literal light. Well in our rendition we said “Give me a light” and then…the sound of the kitchen light clicking on it off. *click click click click
Not the greatest production value but I’ve dealt with similar budgets plenty of times.
I went to college for communications course mostly because I needed a degree that I can do nothing with. I ended up working part-time at a local radio station and spending every possible minute the production studio. I was fascinated with the sound effects processors with all the digital effects, the carts, the reel to reel machines… everything! So, because I spent so much time in the production studio I was asked to be a part of several commercials. This was an absolute dream.
My First Professional Commercial Voice Over!
I found my first commercial. I remember recording it very clearly. Jay Pauley the production director was at the helm, he plays the part of the judge. I was the squeaky voice defendant…otherwise known as “the guy who made us redo the spot 20 stinkin’ times”.
Here it is…pulled from a cassette tape, thus the incredible quality….
Old-School Radio Voice Over!
Old School Radio is what I call it when we have to do it in one take or we have to start over again. Not just the voice but the sound effects and music all in one take. The production director recorded everything he needed onto separate cards and, like conducting an orchestra, he read the script, hit the sound effects, faded the music in and out plus we had to get the perfect read on top of it.
It absolutely blew my mind and solidified my need to be in the recording studio whether that meant recording music, voice overs, producing commercials… I needed that red on-air light. I needed that rush of adrenaline once the stopwatch started rolling.
We do things differently now. You can do a lot more with less but you have the safety net of the digital punch-in. It’s nice to have but don’t want to use it as a crutch. My father told me every kid should learn to drive with a stick shift because they’ll appreciate an automatic that much more. I believe producers and voice overs should learn to create by dubbing music and sound effects on to multiple carts and firing them off with precise synchronization.
Then again, I’m typing this on an iPad in the middle of a cornfield. Maybe I will go with technology instead.