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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Six Simple Requests I Ask of Clients (To Maximize My Voiceover Services)

After 17 years (fulltime the past 8 years) I continually try to improve my client relationships, my business practices and my voice over performances (Yes, each time at the mic is a performance.) with my clients. 

Over the past few years I’ve encountered several glitches that can interupt
or even compromise a smooth workflow during a project I’m working on with a client. Communication between myself and client is essential right from the start. Afterall, we’re all in the communication business, right? I like to think that I’m a team player working with others to achieve our goal. To make a bit of magic happen with a clear, resounding, maybe even profound message to bring forth.

Although I’ve chosen to write from the “ first person”, I believe that in this case, I can speak for most other working voice talent as well.

Here are SIX points, six requests I ask of my clients to please keep in mind 
as we proceed with our media masterpiece. As the copywriter or producer you are presenting me with a final concept and script which I know you’ve worked very hard on... revison after revision... until it was polished to perfection.

1) What is your project?
What exactly is it? An intra company video presentation, an internet ad, a trade show presentation, a sales training piece, a museum audio tour, a tourist information piece, a TV, film or corporate documentary, an audio book, a narrative for a live show or a local, regional or national TV/radio  broadcast? Or is it some other type of media project of which there are many these days.

What is the story line, the inspiration, the history of or the product line being glorified in your copy? How will the project be used? Will it be traditionally broadcast? Where? In the US, worldwide or only in Punxsutawney, PA? Will it live on for many years in a museum or is it meant to introduce a very special, one time corporate event? Is it hard and fast information or is it simply for entertainment purposes? These things I need to understand at the onset, so I have a clear vision of the project’s final objective. Remember, I’m now part of the creative team that will help you to achieve your goal. I can also more accurately price a project when I have this information. This is the essential beginning point! You may be suprised at how often I’m not provided with this basic information causing me confusion before I even start. 

                                    2) Who are you?
Please identify yourself! What is the company you represent? Where are you located? Can I call you and actually talk with you? What’s your phone number? Who are the key people you and I will be working with? 
Are you the project producer? 

So much of my work these days is internet based. Please save your on-line annonimity for your social networking posts. This is a business transaction. Please don’t make me to play a guessing game! At least include a business signature in your email to me. It can be very disturbing and seem down right deceptive when I’m not clear as to who is inquiring or who is hiring me.

3) What’s up with your script?
There seems to be a lot of variation in the way scripts are being written today. I mean specifically HOW they appear by the time I get them. Please follow this standardized format that has worked well for many years:

**12 to 14 point font, Helvetica or another basic (easy to read) Plain Text font, double spaced on the page

**DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS! Scripts written in all caps are very hard to read. The uniformity causes fast eye fatigue. No emphasis can be placed on any word or phrase and more space than is needed is taken up on the page. In other words, please use upper and lower case. When emphasis is needed use what you feel works... italic, bold, s-p-a-c-e-d, all CAPS, etc.
All of the symbols for pauses (short, long, extra long) and other verbal cues I have seen before and have no trouble interpreting. At times I may get stumped but then I just ask.

**Please don’t send a script that has been marked up with pencil or pen. 
Those notes may have been helpful cues for you but while I’m recording my interpretation of your script, those marks become distracting or destructive. Don’t forget that I need to make MY OWN cue marks as I read.

**Storyboards can be effective in illustraing the storyline. I can often get a much clearer idea of a cleverly written, “left of center” kind of message with the aide of those graphics. However, often the minimal copy written beside the graphic may be spread over 4, 5 or more pages of storyboard. It’s a good idea to condense the copy to a single area on the last page where I can read it all together. After having seen from the other pages just how each line fits with your graphics.

When put into practice, all of the above will free me up to give the best performance I can give from your script! Believe me, many thoughts are running simultaneously (although second nature) through my mind as I perform, record and possibly take live direction from you. 

4) Please read my Revisions Policy.
I have a short, simple, fair-minded policy regarding client revsions after initial recording has been completed. I realize changes can happen on a previously recorded project. I cannot always afford to record, free of charge revisions, that were made later after recording a finalized script.
Sometimes changes occur after long form narrations have been recorded.
It’s always best, if possible, to let me know in advance that revisions may be needed.

Here is a copy of that revisions policy.

                                                         RICK LANCE STUDIO
                                                  Script/Recording Revisions Policy

I realize that with many projects I voice revisions or additions to the original previously
recorded version may be needed. These are usually due to client changes. Although I will
make every effort to go over your script for clarity, pronunciation, etc prior to recording, as well as discussing the overall narrative “feel” you are looking for from my voice, music or SFX, errors on my part can still be made. I will correct any errors made on my part in a subsequent recording at no charge.

I consider REVISIONS made by you as my client AFTER initial recording has been
completed to be a chargeable service. However, if the revisions are MINOR I may not
charge for the service depending on the project. MAJOR revisions are chargeable at a rate
based upon the “base” price I’m charging for the intial service. With consideration given to
recording time,editing and delivery. Actual costs will be determined per individual project.
I must reserve the right to determine what is MINOR or MAJOR regarding revisions and
discuss this with you before I proceed. Revisions should be made within 30 days of
recording of the original script.

I may require a 50% payment deposit RECEIVED before initial recording of your project. And BEFORE I proceed with recording of revisions. This is to ensure timely payment for
services rendered as previously agreed upon by you or your representative. Charges for
revisions will be billed separately.

Please contact me should you have questions.

Thank you! I look forward to working with you.

Rick Lance
Rick Lance Studio
615 302-2812

5) What kind of format would you like?
What type of file do you need? If it’s an mp3, then I may be able to email it to you. If it’s an uncompressed aif or wav file, I’ll probably need to upload it to my ftp site or send you a download link of some kind. Or would you like a CD sent via Fedex? When you receive the files let me know that you’ve gotten them. That there are no corrupted areas in the file. Many times I never hear back from my client and I’m left wondering if he got the files... along with the invoice that I usually send with the files or download link. I realize you may be in a hurry but please just send me a quick line...” got the files... sound great. Turned in your invoice... thanks.”

6) Would you send me a copy when you’re ready?
Great! Project completed!
Sometimes after I’ve completed my voice over for a project I feel like I’ve been completely forgotten about. Often times I will ask a client to send me a copy or a download link so that I can see/hear how the final project turned out. I realize that I’m just part of the project and it may take weeks or months of further production, editing and client approval before the final version is completed. Please don’t forget about me during this progression. I’ll usually send a reminder note that I’m interested in the final.
It is also important that I’m able to use a short clip of the project on a demo reel for promotional purposes only. That is, after a project has been released to the public or otherwise “ok’d” for my demo use only.

I understand that many of my clients have extensive production, advertising
or other creative backgrounds. They know that working with talent can be a fustrating experience. I too have worked as producer, director, photography/lighting director, casting director, copywriter as well as on camera talent. I’m aware of the POV from each aspect of media production.Yet, on any given project we are all working toward the same means. I constantly keep in mind “the other guy’s position.” And I expect them to do the same in return. That is how true professionals work together.

I hope that by givng consideration to these six requests we will all help to continue to uphold professional standards, create outstanding work and sustain mutually benefitial relationships. Now, let’s get going onto the next big project!

If you’d like to know more about the work I do please visit or contact me:
615 302-2812