Today we have the privilege of hosting Jon Bailey. He is the voice behind Honest Trailers, a hilarious YouTube channel. He has also featured in tons of trailers for actual movies, video games, documentaries, toys, and games, among other platforms. The video at the end of the article will help you meet Jon Bailey in his pristine elements. Recorded while he was in action, it means it is free of editing, giving you the perfect description of his work.
Hi, I am Jon Bailey, an expert at ‘voice matching.’ I refer to myself as an artist because it requires skill and takes time to perfect. Are you wondering what voice matching means? Hold it right there; I will explain the details in a minute. Surprisingly, it is a profession and one of the most lucrative in the voice-over industry.
You will be required to deliver to perfection! Of course, not 100% but something believable for the audience to think that it is the actual person and not an impersonation. It would be best if you also managed to imitate several people since the need for impersonators grows with time. That explains why it is a real art and requires practice to perfect.
For those in the voice-over industry, ADR is not a new term. It is the acronym for “Audio Dialogue Replacement.” You will find ‘loop groups’ responsible for replacing background dialogues and actors in films or shows. This is a demanding job where you spend 8-10 straight hours in a week recreating the conversations or radio chats. It takes a trustworthy professional and an artistic mind to hack ADR. Luckily, the rewards are motivating enough for you to take on such a project.
While loop groups do most voice matching projects, you do not have to be a member to take an ADR voice matching project. Still, this is a close-knit group of artists with highly competitive skills. If you want to get into the group, you have to raise your bar high. The job also requires a mentality change and a comic element in your imitation. If you are too serious, it might not sound as convincing. This is why comedians make fun of everyone with their miniatures. They are more or less doing ADR but for comical purposes.
The ADR Process
I am sure you now want to understand how the ADR process takes place. Here is a scenario that will drive the point home without leaving any room for doubt. It is the description of a typical ADR project.
An audition request will come from my manager or a booking agent. The proposal is to audition for a person like Chris Evans or Ralph Fiennes. The proposal comes with their lines and an audio reference. My role is to record the lines with such perfection that you cannot tell the difference between the original voice and the replaced lines.
The editors will then pick up the project and edit it alongside the movie trailer, show, or film. I can tell you with certainty that even the audience cannot tell the difference between the replaced voice and the original actor.
A voice-over artist has an uphill task when trying to break into this industry. The saving grace is that the drive comes with handsome returns for those who can ace the trick. You might not find specific demos of such projects, but you can check “Demons that Rock” by Chuck Duran. Experts in the industry have also suggested recording your voices to see whether they can match the actors you are targeting. This act will help you create the best voice match demo that may help you secure the next project.
How is Voice Match Different from Impression?
You are likely to confuse the impression of a voice match because it appears like the result is similar. While the two may appear similar, one has a comical side. An image involves a caricature where you will engage in a carnival environment as you imitate other people. It is meant for entertainment and comes with funny exaggerations. It is what comedians do daily.
A voice match is rather severe. You will not find it at a comedy show, plus it does not come with any form of exaggeration. Moreover, it takes a keen person to notice the difference between voice matched clips and the original. This is why a voice over artist must go for perfection to get reasonable returns in this industry. It would help if you spent time studying pronunciation and articulation by the person whose voice you match. If an ordinary person can notice the difference, you will get into trouble.
How to Master ADR or Voice Matching
Comic artists who impersonate national and international figures make it appear so effortless. However, it sounds like bad news a few paragraphs up there when it is said that voice matching is not easy. While it is an art that comedians have perfected, voice matching is much harder than that. It requires full dedication because the client does not want you to leave any room for doubt. Listeners will not be laughing when the voice does not sound similar to what they expect. It could cause the collapse of an entire project.
For voice-over artists targeting the ADR industry, here are a few tricks you should try to improve your chances of success in the industry.
An ADR request will come with precise instructions and the artists you are supposed to imitate. You will be picked for a particular role or character based on your vocal range and delivery. Please pay close attention to the voice and how it sounds to your ears. Moreover, you must endeavor to deliver to the exact detail.
From experience, you will notice that each person has a unique voice. While you will be imitating an artist or participant, you will rarely get to 100% similarity but must hit the highest mark. There is a level at which your audio may not be acceptable for voice matching because listeners can feel the difference. Take time to listen to the voices and reenact them in your head.
If a voice is not within your range, you will struggle to match it in audio. It might come out as fake and cause the entire project to flop. As you listen, notice how common words are pronounced. The speed of delivery, pitch, and emphasis are also critical. If you rush into a matching voice, you will end up with an impression instead of an ADR. Listeners will be forthright that you are not the original character.
Take time to practice before hitting the studio. Voice matching requires the closest similarity, meaning that you have little or no room for error. Practice intensely before hitting the studio. Take each phrase at a time because every one of these phrases is unique.
Record your match at home or in your studio and listen to your delivery. If you have advanced software, you can trace the similarities and analyze your voice to see the areas that need improvement. You may also invite a third party to listen to your delivery. Luckily, the loop group incorporates sound professionals who can assist with matching the voice.
Mental preparedness will also help you to master the voice. Listen to other works by the same artist to trace the similarities. This is one of the projects that require the most work. It has little to do with the quality of your voice or talent. Nevertheless, it rides on the ability to imitate a voice so that people cannot notice the difference.
Learn a few tricks on how to deliver a particular voice. Fortunately, the internet has tutorials on how you can modify your voice to appear like that of another person with ease. Practice helps you to polish your agent so that its delivery isn’t questionable.
- It Is More Than The Voice
Though we mentioned in the point above, a lot of emphasis goes to the fact that voice matching or ADR is more than the voice. As you listen, you will notice how the person delivers specific names, words, and phrases. You are also invited to imitate the speed of delivery to perfection.
During conversations, each person takes a particular characteristic that is audible in the voice. It would help if you mastered this with perfection. Remember, any difference in the delivery will cause doubt in the entire project.
Other aspects, like tone, pitch, and volume, are also important. They help to create a complete character that is believable. Remember that, in this case, you do not have an image that enhances the match. Listeners are dependent on the voice. If there is any weakness, it will be detected, affecting the entire project.
- It is an Art yet a Science
ADR projects are about imitating particular personalities. Hence, it would be best if you had a comical mentality to master it. However, the level of seriousness required to hack these projects is what makes it a science.
It is interesting to note that practice will make perfect. You have to listen to the audio over and over again before even attempting. It explains why you may work on a single audio piece for ten straight hours over several weeks. Nevertheless, the science element is where you must perfect the delivery. Without 100% voice matching, your project will fail.
Hence, it takes a lot of personal effort and initiative to hack a voice match project. There are rules to be followed as you try to fit into the tone, volume, and articulation of your imitating voice. However, it usually takes an artistic mind to tune and deliver the matched voice effectively and psychologically.
- Think Beyond One Artist
Impersonators and impressionists pick one or a few characters to imitate. Meanwhile, they reinvent these characters to remain relevant in the industry. Voice matching or ADR projects are different in that you have to practice to perfection.
It also takes time for a project on a particular voice to be repeated. If you are to depend on one figure, there is little room for success in the industry.
Pick characters within a particular vocal range. It should be a range where you can deliver naturally on their voices. If you have to strain too much to match a particular voice, the level of perfection will gradually decrease, eventually sending you out of business.
You perfect the art of voice matching through intense practice. Do not wait for projects to appear for you to begin practicing. Keep practicing until the next project comes up. It will be easier to hack a project. It means that managers and producers will depend on your skills more often because you can pull a project faster and with a higher accuracy level.
- Take It Easy
A calm voice will easily deliver on multiple projects. The vocal chords are easier to manipulate while you are in a relaxed state. It will reduce the struggle to match a voice. Breathe deeply before taking on a voice.
A mental switch will also help you to hack the voice match easily. While you are handling a serious project, think of yourself as a comedian. Imitate the few elements that are possible without worrying too much about the finer details. Once you realize that you can hack the voice up to a particular percentage, you will be left with just a few polish elements.
- It Gets Better With Time
Your skills will improve with time and as you rehearse a particular project. Do not berate yourself because it is getting difficult to complete one project. As you learn the art of voice matching, it will get easier. Further, some projects will be simpler than others. While you enjoy the difficult moments, put in the extra time for the tough ones. Listen with a keen ear and practice a lot.