Studio / Voice Over Jargon Guide

I found this at … I thought it might be informative… It sure explained alot to me! rough guide to studio language and people

ADR: Automatic Dialogue Replacement – although there’s nothing automatic about it. During a shoot on location, ambient background dialogue is often left out to be added in studio at a later date. ADR is the recording process employed to recreate this background. Occasionally main characters will be revoiced during ADR sessions using lipsynching. See also post-synching, dubbing, and lipsynch.

Beta SP: Commonly used (if slightly obsolete since the apparition of the DigiBeta) tape format for recording to picture. For in-depth info click here.

Booking: If somebody wants you first they call you and they pencil you. Then they enter into a contract with you by means of a session confirmation – a booking now officially exists.

BSF: Basic Studio Fee – 1 hour. The BSF you charge varies according to the type of recording you do. That is the minimum fee you will get (hence Basic) whether you spend 5 minutes in studio or the full hour.

Buy-out: An agreement where the artist will receive a once only fixed fee in return for releasing the rights to his or her voice, usually for a limited period of time, three months for radio broadcast for instance. See also usage fee.

Cans: Headphones.

Cancellation fee: If a booking is cancelled you may be entitled to a cancellation fee (see confirmation below).

Confirmation: Sessions are confirmed by email, fax or sometimes verbally (but only if you know and trust the agent or client concerned). Once confirmed you and your client are committed to the session. Confirmed bookings cancelled less than 24 hours prior to the recording session are liable to 100% of the agreed session fee. The logic is that the voice may have been forced to decline other bookings. In practice use your common sense as always – your session may only have been postponed.

Cue: A cue is your signal to start voicing. You might have a light on your table top which will flash for you to start recording. Alternatively you might be cued over the cans with a 3/2/1 go or perhaps it will be a visual cue from the producer who you can see through the glass in the gallery.

Digi beta: Commonly used tape format for recording to picture. For in-depth info click here.

Dipping: When voicing commentary over an existing voice over. The term refers to the practice of dipping or fading out the original voice before the start of the replacement voice over.

Down The Line: A phrase to describe a remote recording or one where the voice is in one studio (or perhaps at home) using an ISDN link whilst the engineer and producer are in another studio.

Drop in: (often confused with pickup) You make a mistake that doesn’t get noticed until later so you need to re-record a short passage. You will start at a given in point, and stop at a given out point.

Dubbing: General term used to describe the recording process employed to revoice filmed material, usually for localisation purposes.

End line: The slogan decribing the brand or product in a commercial. Also known as strap line or tag line.

Fluff: An unforced error during a recording.

Gallery: That part of the studio where the engineer and producer are working.

ISDN: Or Integrated Services Digital Network – enables remote down-the-line recordings.

Legalese: Many radio and television commercials carry a set text as a legal requirement for transmission. A common example might be relating to shares, the value of which may go down as well as up…delivery is usually very quick!

Levels: Before beginning the recording the sound engineer will ask you to read from your script while he or she sets the levels , adjusting the studio sound settings to the tone, volume, clarity and proximity of your voice to the microphone. Once set, you are ready to record.

Lipsynch: The skill of voice replacement. You’ve all seen bad lipsynch on foreign commercials. Her lips look like she is saying “the sausages are mowing the elephants toenails” when in fact she is saying “It must be my round”.

Localisation: The process employed to create foreign versions.

M&E: Music and Effects.

Mic: Microphone.

Mouth noise: Clicks, pops, dry mouth and spit. Best avoided by drinking water.

Overrun: When a session looks like it might last longer than the time you have been booked for then you may be about to overrun. Overruns are charged by the half-hour. It is a good idea to let your agent or client know that you are overrunning so that extra fees can be agreed. There are all sorts of situations where an overrun fee is likely to be charged. One common situation is when you arrive on time for your session but another voice over session is already overrunning with the consequence that you start your session late through no fault of your own. Alternatively you may not have been booked for a sufficiently long session which will be apparent very quickly. Another common cause is studio technical problems that delay progress. All of these situations call for advanced diplomatic skills. Use your judgement and common sense. If working for a regular client then be prepared to go with the flow and negotiate your session fee upwards according to the total time you spent in studio. If working through an agent then it’s better to let them deal with it; find a quiet corner and warn them of the impending problem. If working for someone who always seems to put you in the same situation, well then don’t be embarrassed to make a point and let them have both barrels – charge them from when you arrived to whenever you finally finish. And that was the short definition!

Pencil: If you are on a pencil then you provisionally booked and waiting for your session to be confirmed. Once you are pencilled then you are committed to your client for first-refusal. If another session is offered that clashes with your pencilled booking you should call your client and request that they confirm. If they cannot confirm the session then you are freed from your pencil and can take the new session. In practice sessions can usually be moved around with some flexibility and you will probably be able to charm both your clients into arranging their sessions to suit you!

Pickup: (often confused with drop in) Start from an in point (where the recording was stopped, usually end of the previous sentence or paragraph). You will agree with your engineer on an outword to set the pick up point. When you hear the outword give it a very very brief pause (so that the engineer can punch you back in) and then start to voice.

Pop: When plosives (Ps, Ts) are over-projected, they saturate the microphone and that is a pop. Sometimes you will hear it – then stop and pickup.
Tip: you look good when you spot your own mistake and act upon it instead of waiting for the producer or engineer to stop you. The engineer will almost certainly hear it, stop the recording and ask you to pickup.

Pop screen: A small barrier between the voice and the microphone designed to limit… pops (see above).

Post-synching: As with ADR, post-synching is the technique of adding sound at a later date in a recording studio due to editing changes be they quality, content or language changes.

Projection: How you project your voice or how the voice carries from whispering at one extreme to shouting at the other. When the producer says “can you project your voice a bit more” it’s their polite way of telling you to speak up because nobody can hear you.

Repeat fee: See Usage fee.

Rock and roll: Very popular style of music… but more to the point: most often during longer wild recordings an engineer will let you know that you are going to rock and roll or record until you stop due to a fluff or a break. They will then ask you to pickup again and off you go once more. Your original fluffs will be edited out later.

Royalties: See usage fee.

Run-in: The engineer will play you 5 to10 seconds of the existing track to give you time to prepare for your pickup or cue.

Rustle: A term for any unwanted noises in the booth during a recording. Hall of infamy includes clinky jewellery, watches, clothing and most often paper rustles from scripts during page turns. Oh yes and excess body hair (no, not really, we just made that one up).

Session fee: The money paid to you for your time in studio – and your talent of course – is the session fee. It doesn’t include usage.

Sound engineer: The one who controls the whole show and is there to help you sound as good as possible –be sure to stay on his good side.

Strap line: The slogan describing the brand or product in a commercial. Also known as end line or tag line.

Take: Your producer might have to sort out a problem with the script at a later date long after you have left the studio. Solution? Get the voiceover artist to record different takes making sure to identify them on the track. The correct one can be “inserted” later.

Usage fee: In addition to your BSF you may receive additional fees in return for relinquishing the rights to use your voice for a limited period of time. There are several types of usage fee depending on a host of different factors. For details, see our fee guidelines.

VO: VO or voice over. MVO male voice over; FVO female voice over. For an explanation of the difference ask your parents. When in a narrative, it indicates the narrator’s lines as opposed to characters dialogue.

Wild: A recording is described as wild when the script is a part of a programme with visuals, but is recorded without the visuals. The recording is wedded to the pictures at a later date.


Many thanks for for compiling the list… and for me for finding it. I actually didnt do many changes in their original list… just took out things that are only relevant to the UK.