Directing talent is fascinating. Radio ads, video games, e-learning systems, educational productions, telephone... every project depends on the same: delivering the best read possible and committing 100% to the copy.


Directing professionals usually means letting them do their best takes and only tweak small nuances. Trained professionals who do earn their living with their voices do know their business, and working with them is a bliss. However, sometimes they need to be pulled out of their comfort zone and pushed in different, sometimes unexpected directions. And they also need motivation and stamina, specially in long sessions for those never ending projects... :-)


As a director, you are responsible for the overall tone, intention, speed and philosophy of the project.


You must know what the client’s expectations are and the intended effect on the listener. Is this an informative text? It this supposed to call for a sale? To tap into some inner strings? You need a solid understanding of the target audience and to be able to anticipate their reaction, so you can match both ends. And sometimes, specially in the case of multilingual / multicultural projects, you need to coach your own clients in case of mismatch.


Here come a couple examples: Some Japanese intonations do sound aggressive or dry to Spanish audiences. If the client insists in keeping the original tone patterns, the effect will be quite different. I know a couple cases, anime related, that went the wrong way and the audience did not understand the character’s reactions.


Another one: in the case of male English voices, the overall pitch in English is a few tones above the average male pitch in Spanish. That is, if you are dubbing Sir Kenneth Branagh into Spanish and you keep the same high-pitched intonations, he will sound ridiculous. In Spanish, he will need need to reach deeper tones.

The director is responsible for the delivery, and also for the content. I will give you an example. A well known diapers manufacturer produced a lovely series of internet videos on the subject of motherhood. They were intended to assist first-time mothers with useful tips and ideas, and they were voiced by a tender, calm voiceover actress. When the client decided to produce the Spanish versions, they stuck to word-by-word translations of the original videos that were 30% longer than the originals. Of course all the alarms went on immediately, and I suggested the client (very politely) that the translation needed to be revised and shortened. But no, the videos could not be reedited or slowed down, and the text had to be kept as it was, as it had already passed through a very conflictive approval process on their end.  So, after three very difficult voiceover sessions, the client was not happy at all with the results. Everything was too quick and completely the opposite to the feeling of the original calming, soothing English voice. We (the talent and I) were supposed to do some kind of unknown magic. In the end, the project was cancelled because it did not meet the expectations.


In short, as director you are the bridge between your client and the audience. But you are the one who knows your audience, not your client. That is the reason they hired you. And they will judge on the results. If that product doesn’t sell, the audiobook sounds dull or the commercial does not make you cry as intended, you will be blamed for it. So be a professional and clear with your client.



Directing talent requires a wide set of skills: attention to detail, understanding of the talent's abilities and shortcomings, psychology and lots of humor and possitive attitude.


I believe the most important factor to success is to provide a relaxed atmosphere, where the talent can fully open his/her potential. Every text is different, and all talents will have issues delivering their best read.

The talent always struggles with the most important issue: getting the right emotion behind the text. Sometimes the emotion is clear, sometimes it is hidden between the lines. As a director, you need to lead the talent to find his/her own, special way of acting. I usually achieve that by providing life examples or conveying metaphores that they can relate to. Authenticity only appears after the talent discovers the text. It does not happen if you direct the actor with obscure words (I still remember that client who asked me if I could read the text in a "more blue" way), or if you just read the lines and expect the actor to imitate you.


Apart from emotion and intention, you must also care that the actual delivery is clean, perfectly spoken,with  the right pace, the right volume... and if possible no pops or clicks that the sound engineer will hate afterwards.


It is becoming increasingly common that foreign voices are required for dubbing foreign characters in both movies and Spanish television. You will be asked to speak Spanish with your original, "exotic" accent. If you want to train your syncing skills, contact me in English or visit the official website of the Dubbing School of Alicante (in Spanish).

Are you an actor looking for help with a text in Spanish?


Do you need dialogue coaching so you can pronounce your lines perfectly?


Do you have Spanish as your second mother language and you need to get rid of your originall accent?


I deal with all those issues in private sessions. Just send me an email or call me on Skype and we will discuss it.


© 2011 - 2016 Chema Bazán