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Hey Logan, a couple of thoughts.
You may find it helpful to change your mindset around what you’re trying to accomplish with your reads. “Sounding like a commercial” is a very broad statement and doesn’t give you a lot of room to play because we all have our own idea of what a “commercial” sounds like. For some it’s Superbowl ads, for others, it’s late-night “buy it now” tv. Instead, I’d suggest thinking in terms of performance. A good commercial read is based on a good performance, and there are criteria that must be met in order to accomplish that.
A good performance consists of a couple of things:
1. Connection with the copy (i.e. believing what you are saying, getting in character, etc.)
2. Risk (willingness to push boundaries and try new things)
3. Connection with the listener (realizing that someone is listening to what you are saying and you are speaking to them, not reading a script)
Those are the three main building blocks. If you want to add some extra spice, throw in:
4. Joy (it’s easy to hear in a person’s voice if they are happy to be doing what they’re doing. Being happy will naturally make your reads better, even if you’re playing an unhappy character)
5. Love (the listener – especially if it’s a commercial – often has a problem that needs solving. They want to know that they’re in good hands, that they can trust you, that you care about them)
With this in mind, I think your best line in this script was “Now if he could only operate the microwave” because you sounded like you were invested in this guy. Maybe you’re his roommate, or his brother, or even his husband. It really doesn’t matter; the point is that your delivery added some subtext and created a level of depth that the rest of the script lacked a little. It felt like you really know this guy, and that you’re amazed that in spite of him being capable of all these amazing things, he still can’t get the darned microwave to work.
I’m not saying that the whole script has to be read like that. Like Hazaro said, this script is very much “Movie Trailer” in its style, and it would make sense to approach it that way. What I’m saying is that voice acting is more than reading a script: it’s performing. You’re taking the words on the page and not just making them sound like they are your own words, but making us genuinely believe that YOU are the one saying them. The best voice-over is the one that the listener doesn’t even notice. If they notice it, it means they’re picking up on something being off. Yes, varying your pitch will make it sound more natural, and it’s important to learn how different inflection patterns convey different meanings, but doing that is – in my mind – going about things a bit backward.
You already know how to sell something. If there’s a brand of clothing that you’re a big fan of and your friend says they need some new shirts, you’re going to tell them all about why your favorite clothing brand is the best freaking clothing brand in the world and why it’s perfect for them. You’re not trying to sell it, you’re telling them because you’re passionate about it, because you love your friend, and you want to help them. THAT is what commercial voiceover is, and if you can tap into that authenticity that you already are able to produce, then the rest will come easily. You won’t need to worry about pitch because you’re focused on being real. You don’t think about your pitch in day-to-day life, do you? Of course not! You communicate your thoughts naturally based on your relationship with your conversation partner and what you want for them. Pitch, timing, prosody, and diction don’t come into it.
I’m not saying that those things aren’t important! They are, and there are certain things that are appropriate in different markets; British voiceover is much more structured than American voiceover. Your prosody and pitch do matter. You need to be able to speak clearly.
What I’m saying is that they aren’t the be-all-end-all, and they – in my opinion – shouldn’t be your end goal. You’ll hamstring yourself into delivering technically perfect reads that lack life because the performance has become an algorithmic process based on pausing at the right place and inflecting down on the correct word. Instead, have your end goal be delivering knock-your-socks of performances, and let the tools of pitch, timing, and diction serve that goal.
Keep it up! You’re doing great 🙂