More 4’s ‘Devon and Cornwall’ shows how a narrator can make or break a narrative

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With stunning scenery and fascinating stories, More 4’s series Devon and Cornwall should have been a winner. But every week the voiceover triggers rage and fury from viewers.

Last night’s episode was no exception. Why? Because every letter ‘h’ is dropped. Harbour becomes ‘arbour, hills ‘ills and home ‘ome.

Every week’s episode seems to send our collective blood pressure soaring.

In this case, the narrator is so distracting that some viewers are simply turning the telly off.

As filmmakers, we need to take note. After months of careful planning, researching, budgeting, scheduling, filming and editing, the voiceover alone can make or break a film.

Regional accents in other languages

We recently created a set of films for Caterpillar and recorded five different language voiceovers. The ads were released online in English, French, German, Italian and Dutch.

Caterpillar have brand guidelines in place for the kinds of voices that should represent them. For the UK version, narrator and actor Dean Andrews was the perfect fit. Listening to him read our script we knew he sounded genuine and warm.

But when it came to the other languages we weren’t so confident in finding voiceovers. We didn’t know enough about regional accents to say which voices sounded right or wrong.

We used the brand guidelines to choose the tone, texture and timbre of the voices. At the recording sessions, we worked with directors and voiceover artists who were fluent in each of the languages to make sure the accents and the emphasis were correct.

We had to trust that these teams would get it right for us and our client. We double-checked the results with Caterpillar’s Europe teams before we launched the ads in a digital marketing campaign.

We wanted to make sure the focus of our films was on the story we were telling – and not the storyteller.

Got a film project in mind?

We’d love to ‘ear from you! Contact us for a chat about your requirements.

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Author:

Ros is an editor and copywriter with experience in both print and digital. Her experience includes tone of voice development; interpretation for cultural sites and venues; content marketing, design and strategy; and managing an award-winning content team at a major UK charity. Ros enjoys writing about topics and industries in ways that people can relate to. She has written copy to inspire people about blanket bogs, garden birds, orchestras and refugees, among other topics!

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