By Propulsion Media Labs Talent #27 Alyson S.
I know you don’t mean to – but writing in ALL CAPS looks and sounds as if some of you are yelling at me and other Voice Artists. It’s unintentional and apparently is what you learned in “Radio School” according to every copy writer that does it, but in fact it comes off as screaming at us. The copy is harder to read. The copywriter at that point says that he or she has VO people who in fact LIKE the ALL CAPS copy – but I have yet to meet any VO artist that does. I think it is a VO artist urban myth.
I know you don’t mean to but writing in ALL CAPS looks and sounds as if some of you are yelling at me and other Voice Artists. It’s unintentional and apparently is what you learned in “Radio School” according to every copy writer that does it, but in fact it comes off as screaming at us. The copy is harder to read. The copywriter at that point says that he or she has VO people who in fact LIKE the ALL CAPS copy – but I have yet to meet any VO artist that does. I think it is a VO artist urban myth.
Please for the love of God and all that is good: STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS!
(See what I did right there? I wrote in caps for emphasis and it was also me pleading with you.
Capital letters are harder to read then standard writing – like how I am writing here. Or in any book, magazine etc… It is not natural to read in all capital letters otherwise we would be reading and writing in all Caps all the time. It is harder to read. And Voice Over Artists read the copy off the page. We don’t memorize copy. We read it off the page. So in fact you are making the copy more difficult for us to read, thereby causing undue stress, and then we can’t put our attention onto making the copy filled with all of our magical nuances. We are unfortunately concentrating on not making a mistake while reading your ALL CAPS COPY. So in essence, it not only makes our job harder, it might take longer for us to do our job as well as get to the right ’emotion’ in the copy because of screwing up reading it.
Needless to say, when you write something in CAPS, the person reading it tends to assume you are yelling at them or making a giant exclamation point. If the whole script is in caps, how will we discern where to place emphasis? I assume you do not want us to scream the copy at you.
So there it is. I take it upon myself for all the VO artists in the 21st century to tell copy writers that some things you learned in “Radio School” is a thing of the past. It’s akin to watching a VHS tape. It is incredibly passe. And it is definitely one of my (and I will go as far to say many other VO people’s) pet peeves. Most people prefer to read standard writing and not read everything in CAPS. Yes, most of us now have the capabilities to convert the formatting, but that takes an extra few minutes and as we know, time is money. So in order to make life easier on us VO artists, please DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS. 😉
COUNT YOUR WORDS
An easy way to get a gauge of how long a script should be is the word count. For a: 30 second spot, try and stay between 60 to 100 words depending on the tone of the spot. A sincere, slow moving spot is on the low end, and a hard sell, energetic spot can be on the high end near 100 words.
A good idea is to make sure that the video cues line up and match the audio parts. The easiest way to make sure things are clear is to separate different segments of the script in blocks. That way, the reader knows exactly what visual elements are being shown with the voiceover, and the client can easily
reference parts of the script when reviewing.
LABEL YOUR SCRIPT
On the video segments, CG (Computer Graphics) signifies where noteworthy words or information are inserted. B-Roll (Background Footage) and SFX (Special Effects) commonly appear as well. As far as the audio segments, VO (Voice Over) and ANNCR (Announcer) are labels that indicate when a talent is heard but not seen. These and other labels help the producers create a quality spot.
Ryan Maloney and Michelle Ortendahl
Interns, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Studies, Villanova University and West Chester University