Don't you just love it when, as a professional voice talent, you get a narration job and then find out that you have to match the scratch track done by a non-professional? Sometimes, it's not a huge issue, but more often than not, whoever is reading it is speaking way too fast with pauses and inflections that don't come near to the way you would do it - and they are usually not reading in the style that the client wants, either. So, for example, you might need to be soft and mellow - while still reading at double or triple time in order to fit the time limitations of the video.
Often the client will want to send you the video to "match" the scratch track. I don't think they realize how time consuming it is for us to view and time each section. It is important to let them know that it will take you much more time to do that than to just voice it. If at all possible, try to get the client to time those sections for you and send time codes with each line or paragraph of the script - depending on what drives the timing. Otherwise, you will need to increase your fee to take the time to do that for yourself... or just eat it.
In all fairness, sometimes this just can't be helped and clients are very sympathetic and apologetic. Another person narrated the video and then the "powers that be" decide that they want someone different. There may not be time for your client to re-edit the video to your track. They just need to drop it in. If it's been narrated by another professional, your chances are better of it being less painless, but still, we're all individuals with our own timing and style, so it can be a challenge. If you're working in a studio with another engineer, it's easier, but if you're on your own, you get all the extra work to make it right.
A little thing I do to help get the timings right is to play the video while recording the audio track from my computer. Then, it’s easier to isolate the voice in my audio software to time it exactly. That’s half the battle right there – determining exactly what those timings are. Then, in these situations, I record section by section in order to time it perfectly with the scratch track. When it’s all been recorded, I check my sound levels from section to section and normalize the levels. I also need to make sure that it flows naturally from each section to the next and sounds like it was recorded all at once even though I’ve had to chop it up to work. I clean up the air between each section, too, so that I don’t have any little stray noises – breaths or parts of breaths, other noises leading into or out of a section. I really turn the headphones up for that part, because I want to end up with a perfectly clean audio track that the client will be pleased with. Or I want to end up with perfectly clean individual audio files for the client to drop in….and be pleased with.
After all, no matter what the task or what it takes to get there, that’s the name of the game…..keeping the client happy!