Voice and Narration

Narrators can play a very useful role in helping to structure the film, and fill in gaps in information.  However, for some audiences, narration may be perceived to be manipulative or indicative of a particular point of view/opinion.  Issues to consider in the choice of narration include credibility of the narrator, gender, national origin, celebrity recognition and their availability/accessibility etc.

If you plan to use a narrator in the film, consider who would be your first choice of narrator, why and how will you get access to this person?  In the event that this person may not be available to provide narration for the video, please also draft a list of other potential narrators.

Remember, narration

  • Is a mediating presence between the audience and the film characters
  • Often leaves general viewers often takeing the narrators voice to be the voice of the film itself.

Potential dangers

  • Narration can overwhelm the film’s content – being the ‘one main voice’
  • Danger = Voice of authority / We have a passive relationship

Positive aspects

  • Narration can help introduce a character
  • It can help to contextualize a position
  • It can provide a concise version of a few facts
  • Think of it as a shaping and accelerating resource

Remember:  Limit to the facts and try to avoid all value judgements.

Writing Narration:

  • Try to avoid artificiality
  • Avoid jargon, use active rather than a passive voice
  • The voice-over should add to the image, it should not describe the image
  • Don’t just make it an introduction to what you are going to see

Recording Narration

  • Record to get the best sound possible
  • You can improvise by using a rough script or improvising an identity
  • You may also use an interview as your core narration

Matching Narration to Image

  • Look at the film carefully and write what you think is necessary
  • Try reading the section to film
  • Get a feel for how you will link the parts
  • Shifting syntax, the pattern of formation of sentences or phrases in the narration, to the image
  • First word to fall on each new shot has a heavy influence on the interpretation of the shot
  • Do a scratch recording yourself
  • Write out the script so that your narrator doesn’t have to change pages, which may create unwanted sound or breaks in the recording
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