A quick tip today to make your voice over work smoother and more accurate.
It’s something I discovered purely by chance decades ago, when I first started reading scripts on a screen.
Up until then, everybody’d gotten copy printed, on paper. But all of a sudden, around the mid 90’s, I started getting more and more scripts in electronic form that I could read right from the screen.
And simply because I could, I managed to make a huge mistake, over and over. Until one day, I figured it out. Mistake corrected. Here’s what it was:
See, because I could, I would use my mouse to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the window that held the PDF or Word or WordPerfect document, or whatever, to the full width of my screen.
I thought at the time, “This is great! I can see the words nice and big now! I can do something I couldn’t ever do with paper! This is awesome!”
But something strange happened: I started to make more mistakes.
I started to miss words. I started to skip lines. I started to fumble far more than I used to.
For a while, almost a year, I pushed my way through, with lots more pickups than I ever had before.
Then, one day, I heard an explanation of why we can get headaches if we sit too close to a movie screen or jumbo TV:
It takes more time, effort and energy to move our eyes when having to travel across a wider, taller space.
It can be mentally and physically exhausting to have to travel over that much wider field of view with your eyes. Your head moves frantically, not just your eyes, and all over the screen, if you’re too close.
We can also miss things while our attention is on another area of the screen. We can’t capture that much visual information if it’s a wider than our eyes can manage to take in all at once.
Simply sitting further back lets you take in more of the image – sometimes without moving your eyes at all, let alone your head. It’s much easier. And you’re far less taxed than you would be with yourself seated in the front row.
(And here in LA, I have constant sorrow for the poor saps who have to sit in the front row at the Cinerama Dome – I feel like offering them Excedrin BEFORE the film.)
The next day, I was in my studio, and I thought about that as I brought up the PDF of the book I was in the middle of narrating. And I wondered if I kept the script window at a smaller width, still readable but in a smaller space, if I’d make fewer mistakes.
Turns out, I was dead on. From that moment on, I found I made far fewer mistakes when I didn’t enlarge the window, raising the size of the font, increasing the distance my eyes had to travel to see the next few words or move from the right hand side of the copy to the left to pick up the next line.
And, I could “read ahead” better – watching for physical construction of the sentence and punctuation, all caps, phone numbers and so on.
I felt enormously free, and still to this day, am thankful I heard that explanation of optimizing distance from the screen.
So, even thought you can widen the screen, and even though you can see the script bigger, resist the urge to do so. Keep the script window as narrow as you can, with the font as small as you can, and still be able to read it clearly. You’ll find your eyes travel less, and you can take in more.
See if it doesn’t make a difference in your work. Less mistakes means less editing, and more time voicing.
Which can only mean more money.
Hope this helps! Give me your thoughts on this in the comments below.