It is always interesting to try on a new voice for a potential project, but it can also be intimidating when you are trying to determine the right way to approach the audition. When you gather the information ahead of time, there will occasionally be images to accompany the text. Do not – I cannot stress this enough – overlook the images. Remember, a picture is worth one thousand words. In this case, that is most definitely true. You can learn a great deal about what the client is looking for just by carefully considering those images, whether this will be a thirty second commercial spot or a two hour movie.
There are certain pre-conceived notions that are shared by whole cultures, and these are often called on to paint a picture, set the tone, or to establish a bond with the viewer. These are also often the visuals that accompany the material that you are to read.
For instance, consider the high-backed leather chair, angled just so before a fire place, with the side table, upon which there is sitting a whiskey tumbler half-filled with golden liquid.
Now, imagine a brightly colored scene, with children running in the yard, a white picket fence, and a minivan in the driveway.
Obviously, the tones that these two clients are trying to achieve are very different from one another. In the first, a quiet, sophisticated, dry voice would likely be the way to go. Whereas, in the second situation, you would want to be much peppier – reading with a slightly greater speed and volume.
These are just two examples, but they do showcase the value of visuals. If you aren’t fortunate enough to receive pictures with the text, then you will most likely get a scene description, and this will have to be what you use to formulate the appropriate voice and tone for the piece. Often, you can learn a lot from the selected vocabulary, as well as the descriptors used, when trying to grasp what the client is looking for. Use your imagination to the fullest.