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It's the battle of punctuation! East Coast vs. West Coast!


Which philosophy is correct? Should you ignore punctuation or honor it? Well, it kinda depends on a couple of things.


East Coast vs. West Coast!

- 5:58

Hey guys, it's Gabby. Today we are going to talk about a really, really controversial voiceover subject: to use punctuation or to throw it away. Stick around, we'll discuss.


All right my darlings, I'm a big fan of punctuation, okay? On any given day in my booth, especially when I get most script auditions that haven't really been well proofread, you'll hear me mutter to myself, "Can I buy a comma?" Because so many scripts need punctuation help. And the writer in me, um, yeah, gets really annoyed when punctuation is used improperly or not used enough inside of VoiceOver scripts.


As long as I can remember, there has been this really weird East Coast-West Coast debate regarding punctuation. It's wild. If you talk to people in voice acting on the West Coast and you, um, take a class or you work with a coach or just audition for any project out there, you are consistently going to be told, "Throw away the punctuation, throw away the punctuation, throw away the punctuation." Now, what exactly does that mean? Basically, you're ignoring it. You're acting like the punctuation is not in the script at all. No commas, no periods, no semicolons, no ellipses, none of that. You're letting the read flow very smoothly all the way through. It's a West Coast phenomena, okay? But because there's such a high concentration of voice actors and of voice actor hiring and of casting, and, um, just, you know, LA is a hub for our industry, this is a really, really common practice.


What gets confusing for people is that when they, um, again, take classes or work with anybody there, they then maybe work with a project for the East Coast and they're told something very, very different: "Honor the punctuation, honor the commas, um, use your ellipses to denote pauses and certain types of rhythm and pacing and tempo throughout the piece." Very contradictory, very, very different approaches.


One of the things that I have learned to do, um, in the booth over the years is really scrutinize where the hell the casting is coming from, where is the material originating, because that is going to give me a pretty good indicator: Do I throw it out or do I keep it and honor it? Another thing that you can do, um, if you're not certain of which technique or which approach to take is to do two takes: one that throws it away and one that honors it. Because the resulting performances will be pretty different just from making that small adjustment. And I know this can be a bit daunting and a bit confusing for people when they're just starting out.


I also think it's very worthwhile that you learn both methods of performing and that you learn both ways of approaching a script, because your clients are going to be all over the place. Your clients are going to have any number of requirements for you. So understanding how to properly throw punctuation away but also how to honor punctuation is going to be pretty essential for you.


I've also noticed that, um, European clients fall somewhere in the middle. It's really wild. Sometimes they throw it away, sometimes they don't, sometimes it's sort of a combo. Um, so again, it behooves you to know both ways of doing things. Some clients even see the use of punctuation or not as a stylistic choice of yours, and it can become a little bit of almost a signature, um, component of your performance. So know which one you're more comfortable with.


Myself, as a native New Yorker and East Coaster, and someone who grew up with a journalism background and who greatly appreciates the written word, I honor, man. I likey my punctuation. I likey, I likey. But, but again, not always because if I see a casting come directly from a rep or somebody that I work with on the West Coast, I'm going to throw it away.


If you are looking for examples of these techniques, if you want to know more about how they work, then you might want to look at my classes. You might want to take a look at the schedule, take a look at the various options on GabrielleNistico.com We can carve out some time and work together, and I can introduce you to both of these techniques and you can see which one you like best, but also which one you need to do some additional work on. All right, thanks so much guys. We'll talk soon.



Gabrielle Nistico, Gabby Nistico, The Voiceover Vixen, The Business First VO Coach, #VoiceoverVixen #VoiceOnFire #BusinessFirstVOCoach Voiceover, Charlotte, North Carolina, Voiceover Demo, Voiceover Coaching Advice, Working Actors, Los Angeles, New York, New York, LA, East Coast, West Coast, Writer, Copywriter, Punctuation, Voiceover Styles, Ad Agencies

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