Studio Engineer saying "Let's grab a second take!"

The “2” in 2 takes in Voice Over

March 11, 2024 11:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts
Brunette woman looking at clapperboard on red background

As a voice actor, you can run one take after the next! No need for a clapboard.

Let’s delve deeper into the concept of “take” within the realm of voice-over work, a term that echoes loudly within the walls of recording studios. Imagine yourself nestled in the comforting embrace of a soundproof booth, the script glowing like a beacon in the subdued ambiance. Then, through the headphones, comes the engineer’s crisp voice: “rolling on take 3.” This simple phrase marks your third attempt to infuse life into someone else’s words on the page, transforming them into your own.

I like to envision a take as an opportunity to seize, to venture into uncharted territory with a bold creative choice, or to explore a new direction that might just astonish the producer. Each take is a reinvention, a fresh perspective on the lines you’ve been given.

Even when the direction seems straightforward, such as “tease me on that line,” and you find yourself repeating it with a teasing lilt, each rendition carries its own unique essence. To illustrate this point, when directing a voice actor, I often use the example of picking up my coffee cup and saying, “Man, I love this coffee cup. Aren’t the bunny ears hilarious?” Upon repetition, subtle differences emerge—perhaps a laugh or a brief pause, each imbued with its own charm. The truth is, when we speak from a place of genuine understanding and intention, each repetition breathes new life into the same line, rendering it unique.

Notice the different timing and dynamic peaks between two unique takes.

During auditions, it’s common to be asked for 2 takes. If the directions—or “specs,” as they’re called—demand a “friendly, talking to your best friend” tone, I may differentiate the takes by infusing one with playfulness and the other with comfort, if it suits the script. The last thing I want is to sound identical in both takes. Clients seek authenticity, a human connection that goes beyond mechanical recitation, hoping to find in your voice a reflection of genuine human interactions.

To vary my takes, I often experiment with different intentions, envision different listeners, or even alter physical characteristics if voicing a character, like a cartoon bunny. For instance, in one take, I may adopt exaggerated teeth and a bold attitude, while in the other, my bunny speaks clearly, wears a bow tie, and savors a chai latte while reading the morning paper. This approach not only showcases versatility but also injects creativity and realism into the performance.

Bringing variety to your “2 takes” in an audition or sample read isn’t just enjoyable—it showcases your versatility, flexibility, and creativity. It demonstrates your commitment to the project, showing that you’re willing to explore multiple avenues to bring it to life. So, don’t hesitate to take fun risks with those “takes” while honoring the script and the client’s vision.


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This post was written by Simone Stevens

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