Karl Svenson on Voice Over Artists

We had a quick catch up with Karl Svenson, Creative Director about working with voice over artists. Here’s what he had to say;

How do you get the best out of a voice over artist?
“I generally have an idea as to who I will use for a certain job, whether it would be for a character voice, a straight announcer, someone who can do a natural delivery with a local accent or needs to sound a certain age.
One voice over artist who is great at character voices and always comes up with creative ideas is Marc Silk, generally I can give him some characteristics of what I want him to sound like and he tends to have what I want nailed immediately. Imagine asking someone to play the part of a talking drain pipe,  or sound something like Johnny Bravo, or Scooby Doo? Marc does this (he is the voice of Johnny Bravo), among other fantastic cartoon characters on UK TV – he’s even been in Star Wars!
If I’m looking for a real character, my first port of call is to go to Ian Swann. He’s as mad as a box of frogs and wears a monocle, however he has great experience as a fully fledged actor and he’s even able to read my mind before I’ve actually said anything!
We are very lucky that we have over 400 voice over artists on Tadah’s books and each and every one help to create the fantastic variety of ads we produce every year.”
Do you feel under pressure making ads?
“Radio was known as the immediate medium. If you needed an ad to go to air quickly, it could be done (not so much now due to the centralisation of most stations output). Having pressure on you is part and parcel of things.
A good friend of mine, Keith Johnston used to work in the Commercial Production team at Capital Radio in London. During Euro 2000, the team at Capital were producing ads to reflect the scores of the England games. Their task was that from the final whistle to the end of the programme ( about 3 minutes), they had to have an ad written, voiced and produced to ensure it was the first ad in the break after the programme ended. In this one particular game, England played Romania, it was 2-2, and looked like playing out as a draw,  the voiceover artist had the script with them ready to go,  then Romania had the temerity to score with one minute left! Hastily the script was re-written, on full time, the voiceover was faxed, script recorded (in one take), mixed down and added to the ads playout system with seconds to spare, now that’s pressure!”
Which recording session has taken the longest?
“The Longest Session? Heavens! This individual unfortunately had 2 ears and 1 mouth and didn’t use them in that ratio.  Our session lasted 90 minutes !!  As you can imagine, I never used him again.”
Which session was the shortest?
“The shortest?  If you just have one line to record it could be just 30 seconds long!”
The silliest session?
“Silliest Thing to record?  Being a drain pipe, or a caterpillar, or someone quite discordant can be quite challenging but thankfully I’m always up for a challenge!”

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