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