Questions about working with Harmen's voice

Here you’ll find answers to some questions about voice recording. To ensure that the recording Harmen does for you and your clients runs as smoothly as possible, there are some points that can help.

When it’s time in a production to work with a voice actor or voice-over artist, there are several steps that need to be taken. Naturally, the right voice artist is chosen, the exact content of the script is finalized, and the tone-of-voice that fits the project is determined. But at this stage, some doubts can of course also arise.

Below you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions. These answers can save time and prevent unnecessary back and forth emailing or calling. Things like the pronunciation of times (fourteen o’clock ten / ten past two / ten past two in the afternoon) or abbreviations (FAQ or ef-ay-cue?) are good to have clear in advance, as well as the pronunciation of less familiar foreign names or place names.

If you have any other questions about voice recording with Harmen or just want to discuss something, feel free to text, email, or call!

Recording space for voice over


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Harmen Sipkema
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An average speaking rate is approximately 120 to 150 words per minute. However, estimating whether a text fits within 5 seconds, 30 seconds, or a minute is not always easy.

Numbers, in particular, make texts longer to pronounce than they appear. Consider this: when you pronounce the number ‘1,384,234,’ it consists of 17 syllables (or 18, if you use the word ‘and’ between ’two hundred’ and ’thirty four’), while having the same number of characters as ‘strawberry.’

To truly know if your script fits within the time you have, it’s best to read it aloud. Don’t skip syllables and don’t cheat. If desired, you can record yourself.

It can be confusing if you leave various comments in the margin about who thought what about which sentence and how it was later changed.

If there are words or names that are pronounced differently than expected or open to multiple interpretations, please let me know what it should be. For example, through an audio message in WhatsApp.

As you can hear on, I can go in different directions with my voice. Let me know in a briefing what you’re looking for. Selling, business-like, casual, conversational…

No, a storyboard is perfect for conveying an idea to your client. But one or two sentences per page makes reading very inconvenient during a session. Moreover, it limits the overview of how a text flows and how it is structured.

Yes, of course. However, there are costs associated with starting a new session. If it’s just one word, it’s usually not a problem. But if sentences or paragraphs need to be edited, it takes time to seamlessly integrate them into the rest of the recording. I’ll ensure it sounds like the script has always been as it eventually becomes.

Preferably in a Word document or PDF, but it doesn’t matter too much; I can usually adjust it if necessary. For administrative purposes, it’s often useful to keep a script on file with a recording, rather than just as text in an email.

Sometimes it’s nice to select and copy the text to something like Word, for example, to move things around or insert a blank line. A document in which I can’t select anything can be a limitation in these cases.

I find Arial or Calibri in 14pt size always pleasant to read.

By default, you’ll receive 24bit/48kHz WAV files.

Anything is possible, just let me know. It’s good to remind me that the last time I worked for you, it was also mono µLaw at 8-bit/16kHz. If that’s still the desired setting, we’ll make sure everything goes smoothly. Want to double check if I can deliver what you need? Get in touch and ask.

Absolutely. Many programs designed for remote office meetings, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, can be used perfectly to discuss the tone-of-voice, pronunciation, and intonation of a recording. If the sound quality needs to be higher, applications like Source-Connect and Session-Link can be helpful.

No, these are different languages. However, the requests I receive suggest that quite a few people believe Dutch people can speak Danish just as easily. While it’s understandable that some might not realize the Dutch are not native Flemish speakers, one would need a native Flemish speaker for that.

To sum it up:

In the Netherlands, the Dutch live and speak the Dutch language. We call ourselves Nederlanders, living in Nederland, and we speak Nederlands.

In Germany, the Germans live and speak German. They call their country Deutschland and the language Deutsch. That word looks like Dutch, but it’s not the same.

In Belgium, people speak three languages, one of which is Flemish, which is actually Dutch. However, it’s not the same Dutch spoken in the Netherlands.

And Denmark has absolutely nothing to do with any of the above.

A beautiful voice is a nice start. But understanding how a text is structured, what the writer wants to convey, and how to present it to the listener in the best way possible—that’s the essence of the voice acting profession. Of course, you also need to invest in an acoustically suitable space, equipment, and the knowledge and skills to use these things. If you think all that fits you, then a voice acting course could be a big step in the right direction.

I use a Gonzo Audio XL251, a Dutch-made tube microphone based on the ELA 251, a sibling of the Neuman U47 and U67. This is connected to a Cranborne Audio Camden pre-amp in an IGS Panzer rack. For AD conversion, I use a Lynx Hilo or a BURL B2 Bomber via a Dante network with an RME Digiface Dante as an interface. Monitoring is done via the DA conversion of the Lynx Hilo to a Cranesong Avocet II and then via a Bryston 4B sst2 amp to my beloved PMC MB2S.

In terms of software, I sometimes work in Pro Tools (Ultimate), but mostly in Nuendo.

See also the Studio page.

Firstly, the price of a voice recording depends greatly on its intended use. A local radio commercial is different from a national TV commercial, even if both are 30 seconds long.

Actually, every job is different. Two commercials are not twice as expensive as one. I make agreements with clients who give me multiple jobs each month. If you have three corporate videos recorded in one session, I calculate differently than if I receive them spread over several weeks.

There are only a few types of work for which standard prices apply, such as IVR and local commercials. Even in these cases, I’m happy to make agreements with you as a customer. This way, we find what works best for both of us.

In short, do you want to know the costs for my voice in your productions? Then contact me.