Should You Use Voice Over Narration in Your Film?

Within film, voice over narration can get a pretty bad rap. This often comes down to the unwritten rule: show, rather than tell. While movies should rely on the in-picture characters (among other factors) to move the story along, voice over narration can help the story progress and provide the audience with more insight as to where the story is going. Even then, many moviegoers seem to think otherwise, perceiving narration as simply an annoyance.

Here at Creative Media Design, voice over narration is far from an annoyance. We provide films and various projects alike with voice over talent for narration and much more, and we’ll even mix the final product! Having said that, we still acknowledge the constant debate over narration in film. While we’ll be a bit biased, let’s take a look at voice over narration’s potential to improve a film and move the story along.

What’s Wrong with Voice Over Narration?

For the most part, the problem many see with voice over narration in films is it defeats the purpose of storytelling through imagery, and even the characters’ own dialogue. Some will even say narration is only used to move along an otherwise stagnant story, or one that’s poorly directed. Regardless of why filmmakers and directors may choose to use narration within their films, viewers will seemingly always have issue with it—whether that’s due to redundancy or improper use.

For those who don’t advocate voice over narration in movies, you must consider the fact that many films utilize it quite successfully. Not only that, but it’s often necessary to stay true to the original story. For instance, think of the many novels that have been repurposed into screenplays. As with many novels, the story is carried along through a narrator. Emulating that through film would be virtually impossible without voice over narration, that is if the director is trying to stay true to the original version. Just consider all the movies based on popular reads: Stephen King’s Stand By Me or Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Clearly, voice over narration not only works in many films, it’s often necessary.

When Voice Over Narration Works

Given the movies mentioned above and others like The Big Lebowski or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which didn’t originate in book form, voice over narration can and often is a great addition to film. Not only can it help move the story along, but it can even present additional opportunity for providing the audience with insight or even adding a touch of comic relief—or the opposite! So, when it comes down to berating a film for its narration, maybe it’s the use of such that was a misfire, rather than just utilizing narration in general.

When a narration script is both well written and effectively projected, the results can be quite pleasing to both those behind the film and the viewers. But how is this achieved?

Tips for Proper Narration in Film

As you can see, voice over narration can absolutely be vital to a film and how it’s received by the audience. Despite those who frown upon the use of narration, there are plenty of ways to properly utilize voice over within your film, and we’re happy to share some tips! Take a look below for a few pointers on how to include narration in your next project:

  • Think about how you’ll use narration. What kind of video or film will it be? And what kind of narration can help the story progress?

  • Keep your audience in mind. How can the narrator speak to them?

  • Use narration to not only move the story, but to reiterate important aspects of the movie. It can help your viewers better understand the story (insight).

  • Don’t overuse it. Just because you’re utilizing voice over doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown throughout each scene of the project.

  • Leave room for variation within the script. Partway through, you may realize a piece doesn’t fit so well—in which case you may need to alter it.

  • Work with your voice over talent—the narrator. They need to be aware of what the story or project is about. Proper voice over calls for much more than simply reading the script.

Considering the controversy surrounding it, including narration within your project isn’t always easy. While you can follow the tips above, you still may benefit from a little guidance. This is where CMD can come in! Whether you need a voice over talent, help writing your script, or even recording the narration, we can do it all right here!

If you’d like to learn more about our services, give us a call today at 212-213-9420. You can also contact us here.