Voice Over Education Blog

May 2016

Put time on your side -- calibrate your internal VO clock


How long does a minute take? We mean, in your head, not looking at a clock or stopwatch? Various research suggests that someone 60 years old will take longer to estimate when a minute is up than a 25-year-old will. There are explanations for that, but we don't know if anyone has an absolutely rock-solid answer, and in fact, we've seen research that observed just the opposite. Studies also suggest that the discrepancy is greater in the morning than in the evening and that how you’re doing on time depends on what you’re doing. Time sense may also be affected by hormones and all sorts of other medical, biological and chemical stuff. (We love clinical terminology.)

But the key observation, from our vantage, is that the ability to estimate time depends very much on experience. The more you practice, the better you get at it. And if you stop practicing, your ability to know when 10, 20, 30, or even 60 seconds are up begins to fade away.

Why is this even important anymore? After all, with digital editing, it’s pretty easy to cleanly remove a split-second here and there, adding up to several seconds' leeway when recording a 30-second spot. (In the tape-days of yore, splicing tape was a laborious, imprecise process, making a well-timed read very important.) Digital editing also makes it easy to combine parts of two takes, so the overall length of the takes may be irrelevant. And as we all know, it’s also possible to digitally speed up and slow down a recording overall.

Well, the ability to “feel” time remains important for various reasons.

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