16 June 2021


One of the most unique skills set within the film and video productions is the Voice-Over.

Not to be confused with voice dubbing, voice-overs are frequently required in Short Films, Documentaries and Marketing videos and of course, TV Commercial films.


Voice Dubbing

Voice dubbing refers to the spoken and narrative contents from one language to another, or to dub over the original language that might not be ideally recorded during the on-set shoots. In this context, dubbing refers to lip-sync or lip-synch (short for lip synchronization), which is a technical term for matching a speaking or singing person’s lip movements with sung or spoken vocals.

What is Voice Over?

Simply put, a voice-over of a video is defined as a person who is called a narrator, supplemented by the missing messages which are not depicted within a video’s context.

Voice over is unique in the sense that its salient purpose is to combine audio and visual information to the audience to give a clear, overall picture of the presented visual media.

Voice-over can sometimes refer to a Story Teller, who possesses an all-knowing and omnipotent perspective to the film.

Voice overs are great tools for instructional videos as it creates an additional tool for the audience to learn the subject matter from the audio-visual presentation. In addition, the movie synopsis format also utilizes voice-overs to give a more informative presentation to the viewer.

How to Write a Voice Over Script

When writing a voice-over script, there are a few pointers which the scriptwriter needs to be mindful of:

1) Writing in speech form: Unlike other forms of writing, you need to write in simple form: As far as possible, write simple and straight to the point. In voice-overs, the audio part of the presentation complements the visual, which is the focus of the audio-visual presentation.

2) Keep your sentences short: Minimize the use of commas and other forms of writing which create short “pauses” in between sentences in the voice over script. This is because, in normal figurative speech, we tend to speak in short sentences. This will keep in line with the speech form which you will need to employ in a voice-over.

For example, this sentence in a voice-over: “Felix is a pudgy little cat; he is heavyset, thick and loves to drag its belly over the floor, quite literally mopping the floor with his flabby tummy”.

This sentence is fine if it exists in a novel. For a voice-over script, this will be ridiculous, since the video itself would have portrayed this cat as fat and pudgy. For this voice over description, a good example of a voice over will be like this: “Felix is Adam’s cat. Felix is overweight, and Adam is considering booking him in to a vet for a weight loss regime”.

As the scene does not mention his owner bringing him to the vet, the voice-over is accurate. You do not need to over-describe his overweight issues, as the scene most likely would depict it (A good example will be the Garfield cartoons).

3) Time the length of your script: In a voice-over, it is best to keep sentences short, concise and to the point. This will mean limiting the length of your script. Typically, a page of script is about one minute’s worth of talking time, or in normal speech, 3 words per second, in which around 180-200 words per minute, depending on the length of the visual, and the mood that the script requires. This will be a good guide in terms of telling you whether you have exceeded the number of words that you have written in your script.

4) Time the script from the video time code: Get the time-coded video from the producer and mark the IN and OUT points of each sequence to be scripted.

5) Include pauses: When transitioning from scene to scene, there are pauses which you will need to include, normally denoted as dots (…) on your scripts. This will give the voice-over talents pre-advanced knowledge on where he is supposed to make his pause before the next transition.

5) Use present tenses: Unless relating to previous incidents or scenes, voice-overs should always be in the present tense.

6) Recording your script in actual voice: Once the script is almost complete, you may then record your voice over while matching it with the actual audio. This will allow both scriptwriting and voice-over talents an opportunity to correct any disconnects between video and script.

The Final Word for Presenting a Pitch or Proposal to your clients

The final audio-visual product should be able to deliver the message which the presentation is supposed to deliver in its conceptual stage. It is a lot of work, and as the adage goes, practice makes perfect.

If you are interested and have the passion to learn more about scriptwriting, movie productions and more, drop by at SGMP Productions and we will be glad to provide you with more information!