At many a gathering either virtually or face-to-face, voice talent has been known to utter this phrase – “There is no math in voiceover.” It has various meanings for each of us, but usually means that we are grateful that we don’t have to tackle calculus or quantum physics in order to do our jobs.
I wanted to be a bio major in college (loved my high school bio classes), but kept flunking chemistry. And one semester I withdrew from calculus before the teacher had to give me the inevitable “F.” OK, so I really didn’t study very hard in school and there may have been some drinking involved (Iowa was an 18 state at the time), but my brain just didn’t want to remember formulas and add and subtract large numbers – much less fractions.
This goes back to early high school (the first of the 3 high schools I attended – military kid) where the teacher sat us by grade. Yes, the A students, B students – etc. – down to the D and F students. I sort of matched my seating position in Home Room where we were sat alphabetically. As a T, I was always near the end of the line – in front of Voorhees, but after Sims.
But I did get moved up to the A row once a year when we were doing Geometry. This wasn’t math to me, it was art – shapes, angles, designs. The biggest thrill for me was that during that unit, I got to sit near the man-boy of my dreams during math class – Bill Sims – who always sat in the A section. I was able to sit near him during Home Room – the alphabet thing – but not in math. My remembery is a bit fuzzy on how this worked in other classes, but I do remember Home Room and Math.
I have always had a knack for percentages and averages. But the detailed stuff? The balancing the checkbook stuff? Adding up complex numbers. Formulas. These have always been difficult for me. I don’t think I’m dyslexic, but numbers do get reversed. I’m probably just not really paying attention.
So, my plan to become a research biologist and discover the cure for cancer fell by the wayside and I ended up majoring in Art in college. The art degree opened the doors to a job in a TV station as a graphic artist, then floor director/camera op – on to graduate school in radio and TV.
Most of my life, I have worn many hats, some of which did require using some math. A producer needs to work up budgets for example. But script writing and talent work usually doesn’t. At least not complex math – and for that I am very grateful.
But, as a free lance voice talent, I am here to tell you that there IS math in voiceover.
It may not be complicated math, but for some reason, there are times when I amaze even myself with my lack of math skills.
Beginning a project you work with the client to determine a rate. This can be fairly simple to mind-numbingly complex depending on the type of project. You want to make sure that you are accounting for several things as you find a mutually agreeable fee. Numbers have to be crunched carefully to make sure you find that sweet spot.
Your time, your expertise, the usage, the life-span, the speed of delivery. The number of projects being done at one time. The potential length of time for continued work on the project. Are you figuring the rate by words, finished minute, amount of finish work?
And while it is not technically math, you have to create, send, track and account for money owed. Software is helpful, but it never does exactly what you want it to do, so you have to remember the workarounds you found to make it work for you.
And then, there are the occasional scripts that come across your eyeballs that are ALL MATH!!! Do I remember the actual words for all those symbols so that I can work my way through the 4th grade fractions class. A few came to mind, but work flow slowed as time was spent researching the terms. I discovered that in math, I am NOT smarter than a 4th grader. (Actually, I knew that in the 4th grade.)
But most of the time, there is not a LOT of math in voiceover – and for that I am grateful.