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What is Long Form Narration?
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patfraley
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:27 am    Post subject: What is Long Form Narration? Reply with quote

A teacher needs a lesson. Sure, I've done narration for Biography and A&E, but I don't think I have a deep enough understanding of the genre.

QUESTION: Aside from audiobook work, what are other forms or applications that fall under the term "Long Form Narration?"

Gratefully, Pat Fraley
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scottnilsen
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long medical narrations come to mind...I think some of the others on this board do that kind of thing regularly.
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bobsouer
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pat,

A few categories that come to mind immediately are:

Documentaries
Training films
CBT (computer based training) programs
Corporate marketing presentations

I hope that helps.
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ConnieTerwilliger
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anything longer than a couple of minutes. I remember a session many moons ago (I was producing) where the talent had been selected off an agency comilation demo. The script was about 10 minutes at the most and I started to get worried when he wanted to do an initial read through of the entire script with me so that he could mark every page. Now, he had the script ahead of time (at least I'm pretty sure he did), so he had time to read over it and mark it where he wanted to prior to the session. He never was able to get into the "groove." And after an hour he ran out of gas.

There is a big difference between spots and long-form - in most cases. And those who specialize in spots may not understand how to wrap their heads around the longer copy.

And add the interactive nonn-linear material that is designed to be seen by the viewer in any order. The talent needs to be aware of this when they decide how to start and end a segment. There will (or may be) be different hits than with a linear piece.
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ccpetersen
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Connie,

Just out of curiousity, how do you prepare for a long-form session? Obviously it helps to get the copy in advance, but what else do you need to do?

I'm curious because when I send this kind of work out to be done, I want to do what I can to help the VO person get in the groove.
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jasbart
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After the talent receives the script in advance, he/she should sit down and study it, take notes, and contact the client with any questions. These questions should begin with pronuciations, both names and widgets. Talent should ask for brief explanations of sentence meanings.

But believe it or not, the difference between a fair technical narration and a good/great one is how accurate the talent's knowledge of "what is modifying what" is. I've heard far too many narrations where the voice is great, the pronunciation is great...but the narrator obviously hadn't a clue as to what a modifier was modifying (and in this kind of script it's rarely clear). It's the voice talent's job to contact the client and ask these questions, in advance, so the script can be digested and eventually be believed.

Jim
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bobsouer
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim,

An excellent point, and CC, I think that really goes a long way to answering your question; because the better you can help the talent understand the language connections and relationships in the copy the better the narrator will be able to tell your story.
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ccpetersen
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect, isn't that sort of writing supposed to be done by the copywriter with an eye/ear toward what is to be heard? (voiced over?)

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I go through multiple re-reads of my copy (usually have a couple of people read it out loud to me) before it ever goes to the talent. I also put in pronunciations and invite the talent to contact me whenever possible if they have questions. I just figured everybody did it that way...

until....

I took some VO classes... and saw the actual copy that gets sent out. My word, was THAT a shock!

Anyway, I do understand that level of prep for the talent and try to supply it as a matter of course. I also wonder about other prep the talent does that is NOT really related to the copy... it's clear to me that there are some VO people who are really much better at long form, others are more adept at ads, etc. To make the leap to long form, I would imagine you have to view the copy entirely differently... given that the payoff isn't 30 seconds from the first word.
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ConnieTerwilliger
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago for AVVMP (now called Studio Monthly), It is directed towards producers, directors and writers to help them select the right talent and then give them the right information.

http://www.mca-i.org/en/art/?116
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ccpetersen
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW, when I teach scriptwriting workshops for science outreach folks (which I do occasionally) I always include a segment called "I'm your narrator, give me a break" wherein I describe "best practices" for formatting a script, using pronunciation guides, etc.

This way, a VO gets to focus on the performance, not wondering how to pronounce quadrotriticale or trying to make six consecutive dependent clauses sound conversational...
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todd ellis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i do a lot of what i consider "long form" narration for software tutorials, sales & training dvds & promotional/recruitment dvds.
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Deirdre
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part of the prep for a long-form piece is reading it aloud.

Anyone looking to do long-form (not audiobook) narration needs to read the script OUT LOUD in order to discover not only "what is modifying what" but to find out where the breathing pitfalls are.

People who want to begin marking a long script once they're at the studio need to be shown the door, if they received it in advance.
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Moe Egan
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You hit that one right on the head Deebs. I do a lot of long form narration for in house training videos for engineers and IT types. Many of the scripts are written in the verbiage of the industry rather than in what we might call English, complete with lots of TLAs (three letter acronyms) which mean nothing to most of us.

I spend twice as much time woodshedding these scripts as I do narrating them..."Um...scuse me...is this a noun or a verb?"

One time I was woodshedding a script and pre-reading it. My son sat down and listened for a smidge. Finally he said "Do you have ANY idea what you're reading?".
"..Ah. No. Not really, but the folks who hear this will understand it!"
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ccpetersen
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deebs,

Ah yes... the old "I realize I got the script last week, but I didn't have time to read it before I got here, can I go over a few things with you before you start" gambit.

On the other hand, a long time ago, we hired a "big name" guy who had the script three weeks in advance, read it thoroughly, and then came in for the session. At one point we asked for a different read on a certain sentence. He objected to having to do it, and said that he KNEW just what the writer had in mind... and didn't realize he was talking to the writer, who had just asked him to voice it as she had it in mind...

O, the irony.

But, to be fair -- he turned in a kickass performance...

Back to your comment though: good point about the breathing pitfalls. I just got one today that has very long, run-on sentences. The writer put in commas for "breath marks" which has the effect of making the copy look very choppy...
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Don G.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bulk of what I do is long-form narration - corporate training type stuff. I can't remember ever having the luxury of getting the script ahead of time. We generally crank out these 100+ page scripts in a couple of hours. Invariably there are several instances during a session when about two-thirds of the way through a segment, it will dawn on me what they are trying to say. I used to always ask to re-do it "now that I know what they mean", but more often than not the engineer will request that we just plug away as "it sounded fine". It's a little frustrating as talent, but as they say, the checks clear, so...
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