KNOWING THE PROJECT AND YOUR AUDIENCE - THE JOB OF THE DIRECTOR

As a voice director, you are responsible for the overall tone, intention, speed and philosophy of the project. You must be aware of the client’s expectations and the intended effect of their message on the listener. Is this an informative text? It this supposed to call for action? To tap into some inner strings? You need a solid understanding of the target audience to be able to anticipate their reaction, so you can match both ends. And sometimes, specially in the case of multilingual / multicultural projects, you need to coach your own clients if you foresee a forthcoming mismatch.

I'll give you a couple examples: Some Japanese intonations sound aggressive or dry to Spanish audiences. If the client insists in keeping the tone patterns of the original Japanese text, the effect will be quite different for the Spanish speaking target. I know a couple cases, anime related, that went the wrong way and the audience did not understand the character’s reactions. Another example: in the case of male English voices, the overall pitch in English is a few tones above the average male pitch in Spanish. That is, if you dub Sir Kenneth Branagh into Spanish and you keep his high-pitched intonations, he will sound ridiculous in Spanish. For his message to be believable,  he needs to reach deeper tones.

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Apart from being responsible for the actor's delivery, the director is also the bridge between the client and the audience. Sometimes, clients must be coached on the specifics of the target audience, specially if they are not native speakers, which is the case in many occasions. Remember, one of the reasons they hired you is that you are the language expert, you know the audience. So be clear with your clients and give them as much advice as possible all the time, both regarding the copy of the text and the correct delivery, so their message is delivered as it is intended to be.


Directing Talent

Directing talent requires a wide set of skills: attention to detail, understanding of the talent's abilities and shortcomings, psychology, lots of humor and possitive attitude.

I believe the most important factor to success is to provide a relaxed atmosphere, where the talent can fully open his/her potential. Every text is different, and all talents will have issues delivering their best read.

The talent always struggles with the most important issue: getting the right emotion behind the text. Sometimes the emotion is clear, sometimes it is hidden between the lines. As a director, you need to lead the talent to find his/her own, special way of acting. I usually achieve that by providing life examples or conveying metaphores that they can relate to. Remember, authenticity only appears after the talent truly discovers the text. Be sure to tap on the talent's emotions by speaking their language. I will remember a client who asked me if I could read the text with a voice "more green"). Also, make the talent deliver the best on their own, don't just read the lines and expect the actor to imitate you.

Chema Bazán directing talent

Chema Bazán directing talent

You must also care that the actual delivery is clean, perfectly spoken,with the right pace, the right volume... and if possible no pops or clicks that the sound engineer will hate afterwards.