Voice Over Recording-Pickups Can Speed The Process

girl-on-mic“Do you come here often?… What’s your sign?”

No! Not THAT kind of pickup! In voice over recording, a “pickup” is a sentence or phrase which didn’t come out correctly the first time, so it is repeated, hopefully with better results.

For example, you may have a line that goes “this is the last time”. You perform the line and then decide that you want to emphasize “last time” more. So you repeat the line immediately: “this is the LAST TIME!”  Ahhh! Much better!

By using pickups this way you are actually editing “on the fly”. There are several uses for pickups and they can save you much time and frustration.  Let’s look at the pickup possibilities.

Pickups can be used in four situations:

  • “at home” auditions
  • “at home” job recording
  • repairing mistakes in jobs
  • live casting auditions

Use Pickups to Speed Up “At Home Auditions”

As you may know, when auditioning at home I never rehearse.  I just hit RECORD and start reading the copy.  If it comes out perfect the first time, voila!  I’m done!  Ship it!  But often as I work through the copy there will be a sentence where I don’t like my initial interpretation.  In that case I pause… and then repeat the sentence.  Maybe I do this several times until I nail it.  Then I  continue with the read.  I may do this again for  another line.  Then I edit out the initial sentences, saving only the last good sentence and the audition is done.

Use Pickups to Speed Up “At Home Jobs”

You can also use this technique when recording actual jobs.  Read through the copy.  When you hit a sentence you’re not happy with, repeat it until you nail it.  Read on, repeating the process until you reach the end of the copy.  Then listen through the recording, editing out the trial sentences.

Here the same sentence is repeated three times.  Highlight from the beginning of the first sentence to the beginning of the last and hit delete.  Now only the last, best sentence remains.

Here the same sentence is repeated three times. Highlight from the beginning of the first sentence to the beginning of the last and hit delete. Now only the last, best sentence remains.

(when editing,  you highlight from the beginning of the first “bad”sentence until the  beginning of the “good” sentence–and hit delete.  Just be careful not to clip any sound at the very start of the “good” sentence.  And don’t leave remnants of the start of the “bad” sentence. LISTEN to the highlighted portion to make sure the edit is clean.)

There is a trade off in this technique.  If you have too many pickups, you can spend too much time editing.  It might make more sense to just re-read the whole job and try to nail a bigger portion of it.

To Say or Not To Say…  “Pickup!”

Back in the good old days, (you know, two years ago), when you performed and an engineer did the editing it was common to pause and say “pickup” before repeating the material you want to pick up.  This indicated to the engineer that the previous sentence was bad and that the next sentence was the keeper.

When doing my own edits I don’t say “pickup”.  I find that saying this disturbs my flow and attitude.  In a sense, you have to “break character” to do this which harms the performance.  Also with digital recording you can now look at the waveform and “see” the repetitive sentences and thus know that there is a pickup.  (At first it will all look like fuzzy caterpillars but in a short time you will recognize the phrases and their similarities)

Coming Soon:  More Pickups

Often, when you record the job at home you will receive a request for “edits” from you client.  Maybe you pronounced a name wrong or didn’t have the right “vibe” on a sentence.  These edits can be fixed with pick ups as well.  And there is a new protocol fro pickups in a live audition. We’ll look at these next time.

Do have any thoughts or suggestions regarding pickups?  Leave your feedback in a comment below!

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3 Responses to Voice Over Recording-Pickups Can Speed The Process

  1. Sometimes I wind up with 4 or five pickups before getting it right. Sometimes I wind up using the original anyway.

    • William Williams says:

      Yes, sometimes I think a later take is better but when I listen, the first one is more spontaneous and natural. But at least you have a choice. Sometimes a line just isn’t working and I’ll have to go back and re-record several and then cut the best one in. That can take a bunch of extra time, but it might just be the “sparkle” that gets you the job.

  2. Pingback: To Breath or Not To Breath-in Auditions | Aliso Creek Voice Over Blog

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