Five Must Have Online Gizmos for Your Voice-Over Toolbox

It should never be said that voice-over work lacks variety. Whether it be the type of project, length, emotive delivery or just the file format requested by the customer, most projects are unique.

Along the way on my voice-over trek, I’ve gone searching for tools to help me get a particular job to the finish line. Most are easy to use and intuitive to implement. Except for one, all cost nothing to use. Free is a price most anybody can afford.

1. Word to Time

When I get a request to quote a narration project, I start by getting the word count of the script. Most modern word processors have the ability to display word count. Then I head to Edge Studio’s Word to Time Calculator to get an idea of how long the finished time should be. This easy to use calculator allows me to enter the word count or paste in the actual script, and then adjust the delivery rate.

2. Say What?!

Sooner or later you’re going to run into a word that you won’t have a clue how to pronounce. You could ask the copywriter for a phonetic pronunciation and if that’s not available there are three tools you should definitely check out.

The first is Dictionary.com and it’s just what the name implies. Words that you search are retrieved with their definition and an audio pronunciation of the searched word.

In cases where Dictionary.com doesn’t resolve your phonetic quest, check howjsay.com. This online talking dictionary of English pronunciation has over 14-million entries.

For words that are not part of the English lexicon, take a trip to ForVO.com. Touted as the largest pronunciation guide in the world, this tool goes way beyond spoken English. The top languages covered are English, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Czech and Swedish. And for the occasional Star Trek commercial, Klingon is also supported.

3. Audio Formatting

Most clients need the audio file format of MP3, AIF or WAV. For occasions when you need to provide something other than those or you don’t have the means to convert to different file types, I recommend starting with Media.io. You can convert to OGG, WMA, WAV and MP3, and for a few of the formats you have the choice of multiple quality levels.

File formats are pretty standard for most voice-over projects. However, those in the area of telephony may require something completely different. ConvertMyFilesNow.com is great for converting to a variety of on-hold and phone-tree formats.  While this tool does cost a small amount to use, the price is negligible.

4. Save the Video

I ask for digital copies of the finished production whenever I hand off audio to a video producer. For the times that the request goes unfilled, I take a trip to the video sites to see if the project has been published. If it has, I’m in luck and I can download a copy using Keepvid.com. This tool works on YouTube, Vimeo and others.

5. Say Thank You

When you get done with a session, take a moment to write a thank you card and send it off to your client. Include two business cards in the envelope with the card and let them know that you appreciate their business. If you need inspiration on what or how to write a thank you note, take a look at these three sites.

Thank You Note Examples and Tips.com

Thank You Note Samples.com

Letterbarn.blogspot.com

I use these tools every day, and I’m continually hunting to find more. What are your “must have” online tools of the trade?

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Comment by J. Christopher Dunn on March 12, 2011 at 7:41pm

Thanks for the tip about the stop watch, Rich. 

Thomas, the word to time calc is huge help when trying to figure out the rate for a narration of any type. 

I use Dropbox with one of my clients and it seems to work flawlessly. I have another who likes YouSendIt better than the other's and yet, another client who prefers box.net. It's good to have choices. Thanks, Dustin!

Comment by Dustin Ebaugh on March 12, 2011 at 5:05pm
Great article sir!  We use howjsay for British pronunciation and m-w.com for North American English.  LOVE the stop watch!!  Also, my web guy turned me on to Dropbox.com.  It's my new favorite.  You start out with 2GB of storage.  My clients are finding it easier than YouSendIt, as am I, because it's free and has HUGE storage/delivery capacity.  YSI limits you to 250MB on the free membership.  For long form narration in WAV, that's not enough sometimes.
Comment by Thomas Bromhead on March 12, 2011 at 11:29am
Thanks for the article.  The word to timecalculator sounds very interesting
Comment by Rich Strong on March 11, 2011 at 12:22pm
I love the thing. Use the button labeled "remote" to make the window much smaller, and you can simply put it over the script on your screen. The mouse will start, stop and reset. My only complaint is when I get a mouse click noise in my voiceover track -- so go gentle on the mouse!
Comment by J. Christopher Dunn on March 11, 2011 at 12:11pm

Hey Rich-

 

An online stopwatch? Very cool. I've just bookmarked it as a favorite. Thanks for sharing!

Comment by Rich Strong on March 11, 2011 at 12:00pm
One of my favorites: http://tools.arantius.com/stopwatch . It's a free, re-sizable onscreen stopwatch.
Comment by J. Christopher Dunn on March 11, 2011 at 11:26am

Reid, Cindy, Howard and Larry-

 

Thanks for the super comments and tool suggestions. Free is a good. Free and useful is better. Free, useful and helps me do my job is best. :)

Comment by Larry White on March 11, 2011 at 9:29am
Thank you, J. Christopher!  Very helpful information.  Cindy Clifford mentions You Send It below.  Another great site for uploading files is www.Sendspace.com.  It is also free, but allows you to upload multiple files with up to a 300 mb limit each.  The Lite version is free and they also have a paid version with more bells and whistles.
Comment by Howard Ellison on March 11, 2011 at 5:12am
You just rescued me!  At this exact moment, doing a guide to a Polish cathedral.  In English, but oh! the names!  It's like a miracle to sample them on ForVO.com
Comment by Cindy Clifford on March 11, 2011 at 4:23am

The never-ending list of online resources never ceases to amaze me.  Thanks for sharing, Mr. D.   Just wanted to add one more that I've found extremely useful.  YouSendIt.com is a great site for sending mp3's of any size- even those occasional gianormous jobs.  There is no lmit to the size but with a basic (free) account you're limited to emailing one file at a time.  But who's complaining when it's FREE.  Yup, free.  Can't beat that.

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